Change in the Nuclear Family

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The Evolution of the American Family Structure from WWII to Present Day

Everyone on the planet has a family, but not everyone sees eye to eye about what constitutes as a “real” family. Since WWII, the structure of the American family has been constantly changing. The “normal” American family is known as the nuclear family, with a mother, father, son, daughter, and occasionally, a pet. But as time has progressed, the nuclear family has had to make room for larger families, single parent families, biracial families, and families with step and half relatives in them. After WWII, the American family’s structure changed drastically, with many types of families appearing, aside from the nuclear family structure. The baby boom led to larger families and an increase of child births and the women’s right movement and counterculture played part in the rise of single parent households. With minorities gaining more rights, more biracial households started to appear, while couples’ decisions to get divorces led to step families and half siblings in families. The definition of a “normal” American family has been continuously changing since the 50s, but no matter what anyone says, it is still a family.

During World War II, American families were disarrayed. With approximately 16 million soldiers leaving their families and going to war, households in America were left in distress (nationalww2museum). Many men had to abandon their work positions to go to war, which left many jobs vacant. The women of America had to step up and fill the missing men’s positions in the work force, meaning many children were left parentless during the day, “In 1940 only 8.6% of mothers with children younger than 18 were in the work force” (Boschee). Though 8.6% does not seem high, it is higher than the percent of women employed ever before at that time. Employed women with children under the age of 18 were leaving many “latchkey children” unsupervised during working hours, causing the rate of...
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