Free «Changes in the American Family» Essay Sample

Family is the basic unit which makes up a society. Usually family is defined as two or more individuals both related by birth, marriage or adoption and live together as a household in one time or another. However, the majority of people think broadly where they see a family as being encompassed by history, commitment, kinship, and love. Marriage institution of 1950s used to identify the family as traditional whereby it had one mother, father, and two kids to whom they sired while living together in the same home. Fathers were the breadwinners in the family, and mothers were responsible for household chores and raring children. In the early years of the 1960s, family life was still dominated by the traditional roles for mother and father. As a matter of fact, in the 20th century the main idea of marriage was communication based on sexual relationship, intimacy, and love as well as each member carrying out their stipulated duties to the latter while living with the family (The Way We Live, n.d.).

Over the past 4 decades, the characterization for the American family has altered in both structure and the very basic composition. The nuclear family setting no longer exists. The nuclear family which was considered as the traditional family since the 1960s has transformed into modern families currently. Most families in the United States are still composed of a married couple who raises children, but various diversities have since arose, for instance the emergence of one-parent families. Statistics shows that 30% of the U.S. families with children under the age of 18 are composed of single parents, and this number has doubled since 1970. Another form of the family that has risen since the 1960s is cohabitation, which composes about 5% of all households in the country. These cohabiting couples can either be heterosexual or homosexual. The gay and lesbian family setting has been popular since 1996 where currently several States have legalized same sex marriage. Moreover, there have risen other household settings like step-families, grandparents raising children and other multi-generational families. One cannot neglect the ever growing family setting of singlehood where, for instance, the count of women who are single has increased to 77% since 1960 (Macionis, 2004).

Several factors have influenced the traditional family to change drastically. Sexual revolution together with revolution in morals and manners has hugely influenced the settings of families. Modern Americans are highly likely to postpone marriage, live alone, and engage in sexual intercourse outside of marriage than their fore ancestors. Extramarital sex has also increased sharply where adultery in women has risen to 24% from 8% in 1940s (Mintz, n.d.)

Another cause bringing in restructuring of families is the massive movements of women to professionalism. In late 1960s, women immersed into becoming doctors, lawyers, and teachers where currently over 60% of women work in line of their careers while in the 1940s, less than 12% of white, married ladies were working (The Way We Live, n.d.). The main forces that have urged women into the work force included a rising cost of living, increasing birth control mechanisms which allowed them to work without interruption and rising educational levels (Mintz, n.d.).

Feminism has greatly transformed the American family life where women fight for gender equality and fight against sexism (Macionis, 2004, p. 292). Women mobilized movements in the fight for them to be regarded as equals to men thus changing their attitudes toward family roles, child care, and housework. Therefore, majority of women now suppose that both the husband and wife ought to have jobs, carry out housework, and also take care of kids (Mintz, n.d.).

At the end of the day, one cannot fail to realize that family setting diversifications occur more often than ever due to the extensive changes in the way of living. Today’s American family is opulently diverse, and the society is changing rapidly at the present, much faster than in previous decades and centuries.


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