bad, broken, sad

big, love, reunions, food.


close, overprotective, caring

closeness, support, loving

culture, tradition, loyalty

distant, comforting, ubiquitous

encouragement, love, fun, vacations

friends, love, home

heart, goal, support

home, love, parents

home, support, comfort

home; support; love

love, respect, enjoy

love, support, disagreements

love, support, help

Love, warmth, support

mom, dad, sister

Mom, dad, sister, grand-mother

mother, father, sister, child


Parents, Siblings, Affection

Parents, Siblings, Traditions, Home

safe, important, life

sharing, conversation, appreciation, interesting

suffocation, migraine, numerous

Support, Parents, Love

values, happiness, completes life, best thing you can have

virtues, love, support

warm bread, bed, dinner

amour, bonheur, chaleur, force, soutien, sacré

amour, bonheur, souvenirs

chien, barbecue, vacances

enfants, maison, vacances

Esprit de famille. La chose la plus importante.

fraternité. important. partage. toujours présente.

frère, parents, cousins

Frères et soeurs, Parents, Agréable, Sécurisant, Entraide, Amour

frères, lien, oncle

frères, soeurs, parents, cousins .

Fréres; soeurs; parents; unis

grande famille,

importance, solidarité, bonheur, générosité

Important/Aimer/Fille unique

indispensable, convivial, repas, père, mère, frère

papa, maman, grand père.

parents, accompagner, enfant

parents, amis, relations, origines

parents, éducation

parents, frères et soeurs, valeurs

parents, proches

parents, règles


Repas de famille, arbre généalogique

sérénité; amour

vacances, enfants, maison


These responses were almost exactly the same not surprisingly. But I wonder what the typical family structure is like in France? How do parents interact with their children? Is there a strong emphasis on staying in regular contact with the extended family and how important is the bond to relatives? I would say that in the US, it varies greatly because of the multitude of ethnicities and cultures that comprise the country. 

The French seem to have a more pleasing point of view towards what family is than the Americans. They have a closer concept of family, using words like "la chose plus importante", which means the most important thing. I also noticed certain negativity towards the subject from the Americans, using words like bad, broken, sad, boring, distant, suffocation, and migraine. These are strong words denoting different ideas towards family than what the French consider.

For the most part, the ideas presented on both sides are very similar. Both sides consider families to be important, full of love, home, comfort, full of support, etc. In fact, many people list specific members of the family like sister, brother, parents, etc., indicating a closeness with that person. If those people were not important, then they would not have been mentioned. Some of the negative comments on the American side is worth noticing. Some people find family to be a burden with words like "suffocation," "migraine," "bad," "sad," etc. The French have much fewer if not no negative words. Perhaps there is a reason why Americans and French differ on this. It most likely depends on the family life of typical American and a typical French. 

I was surprised to find that the French and American responses for the word "family" were so similar.  Both groups mostly mentioned family members: mom dad, brother, sister, etc.  I thought it was funny that the only one mention of "chien" and I was somewhat surprised that it appeared on the French side.  I had expected the Americans to be the ones who included pets in their idea of family.

The American responses also seemed to mention more ideas like "love" and "support" while the French seemed to use words for concrete things like "papa" more often.

Some of the American responses were negative, but almost all of the French responses were positive.  In America, a lot of families have problems with things like divorces.  Are these kinds of problems less prevalent for the French?

La famille semble toute aussi importante en France comme aux Etats-Unis. Les 2 listes sont différentes dans le sens où les français ont cité des mots plus précis pour qualifié la famille tels que "papa", "maman"... alors que les américains sont restés dans des temes plus généraux (amour). De plus j'ai été surprise par certains mots tels que "bad", "sad"!

Pour répondre à ta question Megan, il y a autant de problèmes de divorces en France qu'aux Etats-Unis!

Je partage l'avis de Manuel, la vision française de la famille semble plus enjouée.

J'ai été choquée de trouver dans les listes américaines des mots tels que : bad, broken, sad, suffocation, migraine. Bien évidemment, en france comme aux état-unis il existe des conflits dans les familles, des problèmes récurents qui pèsent sur tous, mais pas au point d'avoir une vision si terne de la famille.

Qu'est-ce qui a mené certaines personnes à voir la famille ainsi ?

Ce que les francais disent sont plutot positifs, mais il y a des mots negatifs dans les americaines. Cela me fait un peu bizarre.

While the negative comments on the American list are certainly notable, they are definitely outnumbered by the positive comments, and I think American society in general has a very positive outlook on the family.

I'm curious how close the average French person is to his or her extended relatives. Are you expected to live close to your family your whole life, or are you encouraged to move to areas where opportunities are more abundant? Going to school in Boston, I live too far away from home to see my parents more than four or five times a year (usually for a few days to a week each visit), and I see my extended family even less. This is a very common situation among MIT students, and it is usually very much supported and encouraged by the students' families. Does this happen often in France? Are most of the students from the University of Brest from Bretagne?

To respond to Alice, I think that the negative words may not necessarily express a difference in how we veiw family, but how we view ourselves.  "Suffocation" was probably mentioned because although families are important to us, I think some people view them as restraining them from what they want to do or accomplish as individiuals.  Our general mindset probably also contributes to this:  I think Americans are a little more realistic and less idealistic, as well.  This also makes us a bit more cynical, too.  I think we sometimes look for the problems in any given situation, so our tendency to not overlook the negatives in favor of the positives could account for the occurence of the negative words.

I do think it's a bit bizarre that Americans associate family with words that have generally negative connotations. I come from a small nuclear family but a huge extended family and I can't think of any negative things to say about them besides that it gets a little crazy when we're all together. They provide support, love, and care and I appreciate them very much. 

However, I can understand how "an American family" can take on negative connotations. In media, we're usually exposed to dysfunctional families. In movies, dramas, reality shows, and the news we hear about broken homes, over-bearing parents, crazy rebellious teen agers, family members fighting during reunions and birthdays, the crazy uncle, etc. We rarely hear about family stories that makes your warm and fuzzy inside. I think this representation by the media largely contributes to the fact that an American family is perceived as much less than ideal.  

It is not all that strange that Americans have a negative association with family life. Imperfect families have been in American pop culture for decades and its not about to go away anytime soon. Television and movies alone demonstrate this even with the high divorce rates in the USA, which are actually decreasing. A viewer would be hard pressed to find a tv show that had an imperfect family, not to say that they don't exist. Ralph Kamden would threaten his with "one of these days Alice, pow to the moon." The Brady Bunch consisted of a widower and a divorcée. Homer Simpson often strangles his son Bart and sends his father to live in a retirement home on the Simpsons. Even on televisions shows in which the family is not the main focus, families may be broken. In Friends, Chandler's parents are divorced since childhood, Rachel's parents get divorced in the second season, Phoebe's mother commits suicide, her father abandons both his families, and her biological mother lives hours away, and Joey's father has an affair. That's four out of six characters and the remaining two are siblings. Now, onto movies. Negative family connotations is most noticeable in Disney movies since the majority of children watch them. Most of the main characters in those movies have one of fewer parents. Cinderella and Snow White both only have evil step mothers, Bambi becomes an orphan when his mother is shot, Simba's father dies, etc. I would not even know where to begin with random television episodes and movies, especially since tv shows and movies allude to past tv shows and movies. 

I know ideas and stories, like Disney movies, are taken from Europeans, but are families still depicted in the same way in French culture. If so, then my point is negligible. 

I think for a lot of college-aged Americans, family has a reduced level of importance compared to when they were younger.   There seems to be a rush to grow up and to become more independent and self-sufficient.  Perhaps some American students feel as though too strong of a connection to their family might hinder their personal growth and achievemnet towards their own autonomy.


La famille est importante pour les deux, mais j'ai vu quelques mots négatifs qui m'ont un peu surpris!

Raymond, merci pour ta réponse. C'est vrai que dans les séries que tu cites (très regardées en france!) la portrait de la famille américaine n'est pas un portrait très idyllique, et c'est ce qui nous fait tant rire !!

En france dans les films ou les séries on aime mettre en avant la famille parfaite .. Ce n'est pas très intelligent car bien évidemment, il est rare de vivre dans une famille parfaite ! De plus en plus, le cinéma français tente de "copier" le cinéma américain pour coller à la réalité.. Cependant, c'est presque toujours tourné au dramatique, alors que mine de rien Friends aborde de nombreux faits de société (homosexualité du père de Chandler..) sur un ton humoristique et c'est nettement mieux !!!

Pour ma part je trouve que l'image de la famille en france vendue par les medias n'est pas vraiment différente de l'image vendue par les médias américains . Il ne me vient pas a l'idée des films ou des séries ou tout est parfait au sein de la famille bien au contraire. Je pense dailleurs que ce qui fait vendre de nos jours ce n'est plus le bonheur dune famille comme on pouvait retrouvé avant dans "la ptite maison dans la prairie" ou " ma sorcière bien aimé" mais plus la tristesse, les disputes et tous sortes de malheurs


Desperate housewives est une serie qui correspond bien a l'image que le monde se fait de la famille malgré des idées farfelus et un ton tres humouristique

I think that Americans tend to think of their own family relations, and not families in general.  So some of the negative responses might be because that one person has a bad relation with their family, not because they feel like famillies in general are like that.