caring, love, safe-haven

disappointing, unhappy, prison

Food, Home, Security


home, loving, parents, sister

home, loving, tight-knit

home, parents, sister

hybrid, dinners, working moms

Important, blood, interesting

love, advice, aid

love, to care, reunions

love, trust, friendship

love, unity, relationship, inspiration


parents, good food, warmth

support, holidays, home

support, unconditional love, trust


autorité, soutien, amour


enfants, couple, soirées télé

Important, Fraternité, Amour


maison, parents, enfants


parents, chiens, repas

parents, cousins, enfants...

parents, frère, fête

parents, maison, enfants

père, mère, frères, soeurs

sécurité, soutien

soutien, origine, affection

souvenir, amour, soutien

valeurs, important


Family has always been an important aspect of my life, as my family has been involved with my culture and my associations, my decisions in life, and most importantly as the driving force of everything I do. For this reason, I agree with the general sentiment of love, of care, and of security that is related to family. 

I found it really interesting that a few american responses associated family with negativity: annoying, frustrating, unhappy, etc.... In contrast, none of the french responses stood out as completely negative. I have seen that this negative sentiment does exist quite frequently in my surroundings. Children also seem to be an important part of french families, where it wasn't mentioned in American families. 

Could it be that in general french families are more "happy" than american families?

 Are children seen as generally more important in french families? Could it be that american families are becoming smaller? 


I also found the negative responses interesting compared to the complete lack of negativitiy in the French responses. Could it be that the American responses reflected rather personal sentiments whereas French responses were more objective? Or is it that there are more dysfunctional families in the US than in France?

Another thing I found interesting was the number of words associated with the actual members of a family in the French responses compared to only a couple words - parents and sister - in the American responses. It seems that whereas the general feeling and idea of a family is similar in both nations (both responsed with an emphasis on love and support), perhaps the French are focused more on the actual people in the family than family as a whole. Perhaps the amount of time that we spend with our families here in America, which is not much at all, influences our reponses compared to the French responses? How much time does a French university student spend with his or her family?


-Sumin Kim

March 5, 2012

Je ne sais pas si il y a plus de problèmes familiaux aux Etats-Unis qu'en France mais je trouve que l'on ne parle pas ou peu de ces problèmes en France. Il est donc possible que la tendance "positive" des réponses françaises viennent que l'on "cache" ces problèmes.

Le temps passé avec sa famille pour un étudiant en France varie beaucoup, mais je pense qu'une majorité d'étudiants voient régulièrement leurs parents (pendant les vacances).


To agree with Emilien, I believe that most people wouldn't talk about their family problems publicly. This questionairre was anonymous, therefore some people were able to describe their sentiments without being pointed out. In class I would not expect anyone to desribe their family in that way but rather refrain from responding. 

I believe that the time spent with family for an American student also varies. A lot of students stay close to home and have more opportunity to see their family, and when students are faraway, you do hear of students having home-sickness. 

I think that it is interesting that Emilien mentions French students going home for school breaks. I think that here it is almost fifty-fifty with the number of people that go home during breaks and the number of people that stay on campus, at least I think it is this way for shorter breaks. As you get older and go through college I think that the time spent with your family decreases as you are more career oriented and tend to look for internships and research opportunities rather than just go home and hang out with your family. I think that the career focus of the US contributes to the negative family situations. Is there a big emphasis on your career in France that could cause you to loose sight of your family values?

Also American students mentioned "hybrid" families and "single moms." 

In America, there are lots of different kinds of families. Single parent families, Homosexual parents, divorced parents/step parents, etc.

Is there a sense that there are many types of families in France, or are families regarded as more traditional in general there?

I also wonder if another factor that might be contributing to the few negative American responses to "family" is the high mobility of workers in the US and the difficulty of travel. Children are often expected to move out as soon as they reach the legal age of adulthood, and can move quite far away from home.

The US is much larger than France, and travel even within the country can be both expensive and inconvenient, while in France it seems much easier to travel across the country. Is it possible that this contributes to the relative lack of emphasis on family ties indicated by American students' responses?

Also, personally, I visit home almost every chance I get and call home every day, but I think I'm uncommon. My family is also Chinese, and Chinese culture values family very highly, so maybe that has something to do with it.

A lot of students see their families a lot less frequently as they get older and get jobs and internships during break in the US. Because of the distance issue that Anne mentioned above, a lot of people do not get to see their families for more than once a year - my friends who live in California or Washington do not go back during Thanksgiving or Spring break.  A lot of students see their families a lot less frequently as they get older and get jobs and internships during break in the US.

In France, do students work or intern during breaks? Or is it a natural thing to just go back and spend time with family during break without doing anything else?

Il est tout à fait classique de voir les étudiants simplement rentrer voir leur famille pendant les vacances. Généralement, les étudiants ne travaillent pas pendant les vacances, ils préfèrent rentrer chez eux, voir leur amis, faire du ski, etc...

I agree that the French association to family is much more positive but I feel that the American culture identifies very strongly with family.  There is a rather emotional connection in most cases and we actually depend very heavily on the support of our families.  The American family is also quite tight-knit as many of my friends still choose to go on vacation with their family members ever do often although in college most others would like to go out with friends.

In my opinion, technology has a strong part to play with the isolation of students from their families. 15 years ago, a phone call home was the very least you could have done to make an effort to stay connected with your family. Nowadays, a text message or a forwarded email usually suffices, and this tends to break former family ties.

I think technology has had mixed effects on students' relationships with their family. On one hand, because long-distance communication is now so much easier and more convenient, it's easy to keep up with people and have long conversations with them even if you never travel to see them in person (Skype, gchat, etc.). This helps to ease the burden of being far away from family.

However, I think these same effects have also contributed to students' isolation by reducing the amount of time we actually spend with our families, just doing typical family activities or taking trips together. I feel like the ease of electronic communication has de-emphasized other types of communication that don't seem as important for maintaining relationships but actually are.

Is it possible that the differences between French and American students' responses reflect this? French students generally have more vacation time more often than American students, and so can spend more personal time with their families....maybe this is why French students think of actual family members, while American students think of more abstract things like love and support, because those are the things we can communicate through technology?

Perhaps it's also that people in US are generally busier and have a harder time paying attention to family. For example, parents may be overworked and may not spend as much time with kids as they're growing up, then the kids grow up and have an easier time becoming more detached from their parents and spending time on other things, such as school and work...

I agree with Galina.  In addition to each individual having too much to do and too little time to complete it, most families have two working parents or in the case with single-parent homes, the parent often works more than one job and occasionally the individual must work as well.  This is unfortunate, but it is the price we pay to live better lives.

I think it might be unfair to say that just because 2 American responses were very negative, that Americans have a negative view of family. Given the extremely positive association towards family of the rest of the American posts, I think a larger sample size of American students would be needed to make an assumption about how negative family feeling is in the US. 

C'est une assez drôle de question que tu poses Kieran... Personnellement, je pense que plus les enfants grandissent, et plus ils s'éloignent de leur famille. Ainsi, à partir d'un certain âge, il peut arriver à se ficher complètement de ce qui arrive au reste de sa famille. Surtout s'il s'éloigne géographiquement... (oui, je me reconnais un peu là dedans ! Mis à part les problèmes majeurs, je me fiche un peu de savoir si ma soeur commence à avoir des mauvaises notes à l'école, ou si mon père déteste ses collègues de boulot... Ce sont des choses qui arrivent, et je ne suis pas sans coeur !)


Après, je reste persuadée que ce n'est pas une raison pour ne plus aimer sa famille. Même si la distance (morale ou physique) se fait sentir, je pense que tout le monde serait triste d'apprendre que l'un de ses parents est décédé, ou une situation du genre... Bien sur, il est possible que cette vision soit alterée par un mauvais comportement de la famille envers l'individu...