Home and Household Labor
What does "home" mean for your family?
To support your argument, get some family stories about household labor and
other aspects of everyday life. The following questions should elicit family
stories that will be useful to you. Composing your own questions might be even
more successful, especially if you base those questions on your knowledge of
your family chronology and history.
- Ask your older family members about the different houses they've lived
in. How was their childhood home different from the one where they live now?
differences in appliances? size? plumbing? nearness of neighbors?
- Did any of those differences affect their family life, or were they differences
only in outward appearance or convenience? Was one house better suited to
certain kinds of family activities? (For example, a big farmhouse might make
a better place for family gatherings than a retirement apartment.)
- Did your family members' occupations shape the kind of house they chose
(farmhouse, house for business entertaining, home-based business, etc.)?
- If your informant has ever bought a home, what was it like to ask for a mortgage? to close on the house? to move in to your own home? Did he or she mark the occasion in any way? If your informant has ever paid off a mortgage, what was that like? Did he or she mark the occasion in any way?
- Does your family have any superstitions about buying or selling a home? Any ceremonies for moving into a new place?
- When your informant was young, who did the laundry? cleaned the bathrooms? changed diapers? cooked meals? lawn
care? repaired things?
- When your informant was young, who shopped for groceries? furniture and home decor? cars? the house
- When your informant was young, what household chores did children do?
- Has your informant seen generational change in who does what chores at home, or in who shops for the home? What accounts for the change or continuity?
More general questions for further conversation:
- Do you remember your parents finally buying something they had wanted for
a long time (such as a television, washing machine, second car, diamond ring)?
When was this, and why did they finally buy it? Did your informant ever want
something a long time before finally buying it?
- Did you get an allowance as a child? Did you ever do extra chores for money?
Did you ever have a lemonade stand or similar enterprise?
- Who was your favorite author or favorite book from your childhood? Was there
ever a book you were surprised to find your parents reading?