The American Family Today
And they lived happily ever after…… That is the end of every love story that we as Indians expect.However, the western world has kept surprising us with the changing relationship and family trends since quite a many years now.
Remember, when in the year 2004, the American pop-star, Britney Spears took the wedding vows (‘till death do us apart’) with her childhood sweetheart, Jason Alexander and barely 55 hours later they got divorced. The entire world was in shock, thinking about a marriage that could last only a few hours.
However, the pop-singer was not the only one. There have been various celebrity examples of quick marriage and divorces in the United States. Similar is the scenario to be noticed for the masses in the States.
Unlike the family structures in India, the American families have been witnessing drastic changes in the recent years. On one hand, in India we are still moving towards nuclear families from joint families but most marriages last for years. On the other hand, the American society is witnessing a sharp decline in two parent households. The reasons to blame can be the soaring number of divorces, single parenting, remarriage and live-in relationships in the American couples.
The American family size has thus shrunk owing to the rise of single parenting and infertility in men and women. In a survey from the year 2006 to 2010, more than 1.5 million U.S women or 6% of the married population (15 to 44 years of age) reported infertility. Similar are the stats for men as well. Moreover, the new studies are unveiling trends that are pointing out at declining reproductive health in the U.S.A.
However the family dynamics in the U.S in the recent period was not always the same if we go back in the early 1960’s. Families were united and children were mostly raised with their biological parents both mother and father. On the other hand, now, four out of ten births happen to either women who are single or living with an unwedded partner. One third of American kids are raised by and live with one parent.
No Dominant Family Form
Family structures of some or the other form are prevalent in different countries. When it comes to the US, traditionally theirthe family structure was more of nuclear and even joint family with two parents (man and woman) being the support system for providing care and security to their biological descendants.
However, over the time, family structures in America have turned more towards the non-traditional family forms. By contrast, more single women and non martial partners are raising kids. Even stepfamilies as a result of remarriage are a familiar concept in the US nowadays. Thus as a result no dominant family form prevails in the Land of Liberty today.
Single and Unmarried Mothers
The recent trends in family forms of the United States exhibit the rise in single-parent households with single or unmarried mothers. Single or unmarried mothers being the primary custodian is the new societal norm.
Though this gives rise to economical struggles as well in raising children. Many women who aren’t paid well try to cohabit with another adult or live with any relative seeking financial assistance. Single mothers also have time constraints when they are the primary caregiver to their children which also results in low income making things difficult for them.
Blended Families or Step Families
According to data collected few years back, nearly 16% of children in the US live in blended families. The percentage must have risen sharply in the recent years with the changing nature of families in the States. The concept of blended families includes kids living in a household with stepparents, step siblings or even half siblings.
Many couples in the US voluntarily choose being childless owing to various reasons. Some prefer not having a child as they want to be free from the responsibility of a child, some take this decision due to financial aspects as raising a child can burn a big hole in their pockets. Some studies in the recent past also show that many career oriented women also opt to be childless. Many women prefer being single all their life thus do not opt for childbearing.
Family life changes over the years in the US and other countries as well. However, most people especially children have adopted the changing trends in family structures. Even the parents supporting and caring for their children as single parents are quite satisfied with their efforts in raising their children. Over the generations, parents have become more educated and are aware about child well- being. The changing family life has also shown rise in employment amongst youngsters. This changing scenario clearly says “Change is inevitable”.