The changing face of American families (even mine)by Carolyn Classen on Jul. 24, 2011, under Health, Life, Politics
Recently I read an article about different types of American families
http://tucsoncitizen.com/arizona-news/2011/07/14/census-traditional-arizona-families-falling-in-number/. The article basically says that the traditional American family is in the decline.
As in the United States, the traditional ideal of a family in Arizona – a married man and woman with children – continues to be chipped away by divorce, single parenthood, adults living without children and same-sex couples forming households and raising children of their own, according to 2010 census data.
When I was growing up years ago just about everyone in my home town in rural Hawaii was married (only once) with children. No one was divorced, there were no gay couples (or openly gay people), and only a few couples without children or infertile. It was indeed a homogenous society of the so-called “traditional family”. And I believe this was typical of most cities and towns back then in America.
Now the rate of divorce in America is at about 50% of married couples, and gay couples are able to marry in 5 states (plus the District of Columbia) and adopt children as well. Gay marriage is also legal as of today in New York State (the 6th state). And in 2011 there are numerous couples without children (either by choice, due to careers, or due to infertility).
These many divorces are creating blended families of half siblings and step brothers/sisters, as well as step-grandchildren. One of my friends has a grandchild and two “pseudo” step-grandchildren, as their daughter is not married to the father of their grandchild. Confusing? Somewhat.
I know a few gay couples with children, from one partner’s previous marriage or relationship, or through adoption or artificial insemination. Two of my son’s friends have mothers who are now openly gay after they had been married and then divorced from the father of their children. And I met a lesbian couple in Massachusetts who were sharing child custody with a gay male friend who had impregnated one of them (via artificial means).
In America today as mentioned in the article, women don’t need to get married due to financial freedom and career choices. And many who do marry get divorced and become single mothers. Same with single fathers due to the higher divorce rate. And more fathers are now playing a more active role in parenting, some even as “house husbands.” I now have many divorced friends (both sexes) and actually know several people who are in their 2nd or 3rd marriage.
And I know several women and men who have remained single and chose not to marry, for various reasons. The rate of marriage is also falling in America and was at a record low in 2009:
And I do say that marriage is NOT for everyone (see previous blog entitled “Why marriage?”:
as it is a lot of hard work and commitment. I say this being married (happily) for 27 years. But gay couples are now fighting for the choice to be able to get married.
And many people are now marrying or in relationships with someone outside their race/ethnicity (which could be the subject of another blog).
In my new world family, I have an adopted nephew (half-Turkish), a German step nephew (via my brother–in-law’s 2nd wife), a “pseudo” nephew (as my niece is in an unmarried relationship with a Kiwi man who is the father of their two children), and a nephew-in-law (from Morocco).
Ah, this is truly the new face of America, the land of immigrants and descendents from all over the world.
And this is becoming a land of acceptance and tolerance of different types of families and romantic relationships.