Holiday Dinner with the Nuclear Family

As the winter holidays draw close and Americans everywhere travel to celebrate with their loved ones, it is important to remember how one should act when having dinner with family. The 1950 Encyclopedia Britannica film A Date with Your Family offers some helpful advice for interacting with parents and siblings. Created as an educational tool for teenagers, the film reinforces values of conformity and traditional gender roles by focusing on the ideal Cold War–era family. Father works hard at the office to provide for his family while mother keeps a welcoming home. The teenaged brother and sister respect and love their parents, while also chipping in around the house and caring for their younger brother, Junior.

The 1950s are often looked at as a golden age of American society. The desire for conformity and pleasantness in the post-war era reflects the American need for stability and unity after nearly four years at war. Threats of nuclear war and communist spies made solidarity all the more important. American society would be rocked with the coming of the 1960scivil rights and desegregation, the Vietnam War and counterculture, the Stonewall Riot and the Beatles.

Now, with that in mind would you please button your top button and pass the mashed potatoes?


A Date with Your Family, Encyclopedia Britannica Films, 1950 (Prelinger Archives, Internet Archive)