The Change of the American Family

The American family has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. During the 1950s, the Cleavers on the television show “Leave it to beaver” epitomized the American family. In 1960, over 70 percent of all American households were like the Cleavers: made up of a breadwinner father, a homemaker mother, and their kids. Today much of the recent research indicates the traditional American family is not a model anymore in the sense that, there is no ideal or normal family.

Family is now defined by some sociologists as, “a unit comprising two or more people who share a residence for a substantial period of time and have legal or moral responsibilities for long term care for each other (our social world p287). As time passes we evolve with all the changes in our society and people are living and thinking how they feel instead of keeping up with the values and morals society once followed. Each of us has a concept of the typical family and how it has changed overtime. Being rooted in our own family experience and community, our views are seldom, if ever, an accurate depiction of the typical family.

It is fair to say that there is no such thing as the “typical” family. In our nation the characteristics of families vary dramatically by race and ethnicity, age and income of adult members of the family; religious affiliation; region of the country; and by the demographic, social, and economic factors (monthly labor review p4). One change that has affected the modern American family is Divorce. Back then divorce was uncommon. Single parent households were very rare. The last 50 years have seen a dramatic rise in divorce (the u.s has the highest in any industrialized nation), cohabitation rather than marriage, blended families of both gay and heterosexual design, and children born out of wedlock.

Another change that has affected the modern American family is immigration. Immigration has changed the modern family from what America has considered the normal type, too many different races and families. Interracial couples have become more accepted over the years, as it was once viewed as wrong and what caused a lot of racial bigotry and crimes of hate becoming more prominent, but in these times it is much more accepted. Our society has evolved and has become more accepting of the new ideas in what family is. The rise of dual career, two income marriages have transformed from time.

More American women are employed now as so to their husbands. While husbands are more involved in child bearing, the bulk of the housework and parenting still falls on the woman. It becomes a balancing act between care-giving demands, spousal engagement and job responsibilities. Self-definition can become a heavy burden when there is no one to come home to. Today people are able to make choices now, than back then they couldn’t due to fear of judgment from others or because of religious belief etc. with our choices and things like rational theory these changes have become more prominent. After all rational theory happens when “the costs outweigh the rewards” (our social world pg290).