The Searle Family Across Generations by Ryan Searle

When I examined my immediate family at the beginning of this class, I found it interesting how much a family can change from generation to generation, socially, economically, and in other ways. So I decided to go back a generation and analyze the family of my grandparents and see just how different their work-family situation was and is from my own.

Foundation: Reed and Kathy Searle were married in Salt Lake City in 1971, at a young 24 and 20 years old. My grandfather studied political science at BYU while his new wife worked as a dental assistant. They both came from unique situations, both wealthy growing up, then thrown into economic disasters in which their parents lost nearly everything. Determined to build their own success, Reed and Kathy built their own family on education and hard work.

Grandpa Reed napping with Dane and Brant

As you can see, they began their marriage working long, hard hours. They started having children right away, starting with my dad in 1972 and Brant in 1974. Right in those early years he graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in Political Science, then from BYU with a master's in Public Administration. He accepted a job with the Department of Energy in 1973, beginning his lifelong career in energy.

My grandparents were blessed with the option to care for their own children. My grandmother stayed at home to care for her children. She has taken the majority of the housework upon her strong shoulders for most of their married life, and it has been much appreciated by their five children.

Number five is missing here; Kara was born much later in 1990.

Now, to shift attention to what happened in the Searle home, Reed and Kathy lived in a small apartment in SLC, then soon had to upsize as the children came. They bought a humble home in Casper, WY while Grandpa worked for the DOE. They returned home to Utah where my dad and each of his siblings were raised.

Their second house was in Bountiful, in a beautiful area on the east bench. Then in 1980 when four of the five kids were born, they moved to a larger home in West Jordan. The kids took advantage of just about every activity available to them. Basketball, baseball, golf, tennis. Dance, singing, piano, and whatever else my Grandma could get them into. They loved to play, and I'm sure she loved to have them off her hands a couple hours a day. They also loved to get away as a family to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors; that's a tradition that we still carry today.

As years passed, Grandpa advanced in his career. He began accepting more prestigious positions, starting with his service as Chief of Staff to Governor Bangerter from 1987-1988. In 1989 he began his run as GM of Intermountain Power Agency, where he was very successful. I remember seeing him on TV at the capitol every so often. While he worked out in public, Grandma worked at home to keep the house from burning down and the kids from killing each other. They raised five amazing kids, who went on to create our now quite large Searle family; more on them later.

Most recently, Reed and Kathy live in South Jordan and spend their winters in St. George. Reed undertook a project with his colleagues called the Blue Castle Project. They've been working for nearly a decade to bring nuclear power to Utah. We began referring to him as Mr. Burns after the greedy, devious power plant boss from The Simpsons.

He and Kathy have taken to traveling the world. Most recently I received pictures from them in Israel and Egypt. They've hit six of seven continents and don't plan on stopping soon.

Most of their life they have been capable of living an upper-middle-class lifestyle; at this point you could accurately say they belong to the elite class. However, they have always been quite modest in their spending and associations; they are great examples of practicality, enjoying the simple happiness of family.

They currently serve as service missionaries at Heber Valley Girls Camp.

Generations and social mobility: I want to briefly examine the work-family situation of each of the five children because I find it so fascinating how this family is diversely spread across the social spectrum.

1. Dane: Oldest of the five, born in 1972, my dad experienced the poorest stages of his family life, and enjoyed the blessings of a stay-at-home mom and a financially stable upper-middle class family. He is now a co-provider with my mom, who together with us kids make up a "Missing Middle" type of family. Though he has so far been the most independent financially of the five, he has never been able to uphold the masculine norm of "breadwinner-homemaker."

2. Brant: Born in 1973, Brant grew up alongside Dane. He did well in school, then studied at Snow College and the University of Utah. He had various lower-level business jobs until he got his real-estate license. At that point when he and his family felt they had it made, his wife quit working to stay home with the kids. They increased their spending and enjoyed life, but nearly a decade ago the housing market crashed and they went into a downward spiral financially. They were forced to leave their circle of friends, high-status job and luxurious home. Since then both Brant and Laurie have worked low-skill jobs and migrated from one place to the next looking for home. Sadly they've ended up in the working class with major debt, but they are beginning to climb out of this hole and see the sun again.

Couldn't find a picture of Lisa with her crazy kids - they can't sit still long enough for a family photo.

3. Lisa: Born in 1976, Lisa was sort of the rebel of the family. Straight out of high school she joined the military and shipped off to Texas. With no higher education and being unmarried, she has always struggled through low-wage jobs to provide for her four kids. Within the last several years she has come home and shacked up with Grandma and Grandpa while going back to school. While they help her with child care, she works as a pharmacy tech and is nearly finished with her degree at SLCC, which she hopes will help her increase her wages enough to buy a house and raise her kids in a more stable home.

4. Mindy: Born in 1979, Mindy grew up privileged most of her life. She did well in school and attended college, then married fairly young and had four kids. Her first husband worked in law enforcement, which doesn't pay nearly as well as it should, so Mindy had no choice but to put the kids in day care or, when possible, leave them with Grandma and Grandpa, while she worked various low-wage jobs. Off and on, they lived with Grandma and Grandpa or even with Great Grandma Yetive for a few years to save on rent. She continued like this for about 15 years, until she was divorced, remarried, and added two step-kids to the equation. Her new husband is in security, which also doesn't pay well. But, with the kids growing up and with help from family, the two are returning to school pursuing degrees. They hope tomove out of the working class and build a more stable home centered on family rather than paying the bills.

5. Kara: As the youngest child, Kara experienced the height of privilege, which was a moderate upper-middle class lifestyle. She has always been very successful academically. After graduating from SUU, she began her career as a landscape designer at Thanksgiving Point, and currently works for the city of Saratoga Springs as a city planner. Out of the three sisters, Kara turned out to be the most independent and ambitious in regards to her career. She married a successful young man, Alex, who works as a software engineer and is in the police academy. Kara marks a remarkable shift in society over time. She is a strong woman in the workplace, raised by a professional father and a stay-at-home mom.

Summary: What caught my attention as I analyzed my extended family is that we are a demonstration of the mismatch between the modern family and the slow-to-change workplace. My grandparents managed, perhaps not intentionally, to live by masculine norms. They ended up in a good place with high status and have enjoyed their life. Decades ago, America was different and they were able to work the breadwinner-homemaker style. They were also very cautious with their money, which has shown through in their modest lifestyle, perhaps because their backgrounds are both working-class families who made it big, then watched their livelihood collapse.

Most fascinating to me is that a single generation forward brought forth five families who are living the reality of the "Missing Middle," fighting to escape masculine norms. Each of the five kids and their spouses has made sacrifice after sacrifice to bring home a sufficient income. Perhaps this is a manifestation of our lower status values, or maybe my grandparents engrained this lesson by their example to us, but our first priority has been and always will be caring for each other. Whether or not some of the next generation climbs the social ladder higher than the previous, this is one thing that will always remain the same: family is first.

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