Meet the newest member of our Southern family, a three-week old Ragdoll kitten I named Carlisle after my dad. He will join our home in January when he is old enough to leave his mom.
Southerners make such good novelists; they have so many good stories because they have so much family. -Gore Vidal
Family is definitely important in the South. Is is not unusual upon meeting someone for the first time to be asked, “Where are you from and who are your people?” Great Southern writers such as William Faulkner focused on the good, the bad, and the ugly concerning Southern families.
After moving to the Southern mountains, I was intrigued with how many families all live on the same property or the same cove. In studies on Southern Appalachian educational leaders, a colleague and I found that this close family geographical connection was often a barrier to a woman’s advancement. Sometimes advancing meant taking a job elsewhere and leaving the family. (2004) McFadden & Smith. The Social Construction of Educational Leadership: Southern Appalachian Ceilings. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Our most recent election has had a profound influence on families. Psychologists report more clients who have experienced rifts in their families as a result of conflicting beliefs. According to the Star-Tribune, “Therapists say they’re seeing an unusually high number of clients seeking professional help in dealing with political polarization in their relationships ” I have had such an experience but I believe that those experiences are about much more than politics and go back many years. I fortunately have a supportive and fellow academic husband and live in an academic community where many share my more liberal beliefs or if they do not, respect them as I respect theirs. It’s wonderful to have friends, children, and family who can disagree and still love and respect each other.
A wise person once told me that different isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s just different. This is helpful advice for any family.