Part D: Article
A ‘Normal’ Family
By LISA BELKIN
What is a “family”? Statistically, it is no longer a mother, a father and their biological children living together under one roof (and certainly not with Dad going off to work and Mom staying home). Although perception and acceptance often lag behind reality, there is evidence that a new definition of family — while far from universally accepted — is emerging. A report this month by the Pew Research Center asked 2,691 randomly chosen adults whether seven trends were “good, bad or of no consequence to society.” The trends were: more unmarried couples raising children; more gay and lesbian couples raising children; more single women having children without a male partner to help raise them; more people living together without getting married; more mothers of young children working outside the home; more people of different races marrying each other; and more women not ever having children.
A little less than one-third of respondents (31 percent) are what the study authors label “accepters” (believing that most of these trends make no difference, or are good for society); a similar percentage (32 percent) are “rejecters” (believing that five or more of the trends are bad for society) and just over one-third (37 percent) are “skeptics,” sharing most views of the accepters, but where they differ, they differ sharply. (For instance, nearly all skeptics say “mothers having children without male partners to help raise them is bad for society, while only two percent of accepters say the same.) The results reflect division within American society, but, arguably, a trend toward acceptance. You can take the poll yourself and see where you rank. I learned I am “more accepting of changes in family structure” than 91 percent of the population. One result that stood out in the report was the sharp division of opinion of the trend toward “more gay and lesbian couples raising children.” Forty-three percent of respondents said...
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