The American Family

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The American Family

Family Patterns
The US has many different types of families. While most American families are traditional, comprising a father, mother and one ore more children, there are families headed by one parent, usually a woman. In a few families, like everywhere else, there are no children. Other families in the US have one adult who is a stepparent.

Americans tolerate and accept these different types of families. In the US, people have the right to privacy and Americans do not believe in telling other Americans what type of family group they belong to. They respect each other’s choices regarding family groups.

Americans show great concern about the family as an institution. Many of them say that there are too many divorces, they worry that teenagers are not obeying their parents, they are concerned about whether working women can properly care for their children. Furthermore, they worry that too many families live in poverty. In addition to this, newspapers, motion pictures and TV shows often highlight difficulties within families: family crimes, problems and abuse become new stories.

Families serve many functions. They provide a setting in which children can be born and reared. Families help educate their members: parents teach their children values, daily skills, common practices and customs. The most important job for a family is to give emotional support and security.

Families in a fast-paced, urban country such as the US face many difficulties. American families adjust to the pressures of modern society by changing. Changing American Family
When Americans consider families, many of them think of a “traditional family”, where the father goes out and works and the mother stays at home and rears the children. The biggest change in families is that most families today do not fit this image.

The most common type of family now is one in which both parents work outside the home. Even women with young children are going back to work. Another big change is the increase of families that are headed by only one person (the number of single-parent families has more than doubled). Some families may consist of a couple of one race who have adopted children of another race, or from other countries. In many states, single people can also adopt children.

Another change is that families in the US are getting smaller. In the mid-1700s, there were 6 people in the average household. Today the average household contains 2 or 3 people. A household is defined as a place where at least one person lives.

From the colonial period until today, there has been little change in the structure of the family until the past quarter century. Until that point, the age of marriage changed from time to time, but only a minority of women never married and births outside marriage were less than 10 percent of all births. But this fundamental social institution has changed profoundly since 1980. In the post-1980 period in the United States, changes have been occurring in both families and households for all sections of the national population. The traditional American family has been undergoing profound transformations for all ages, all races, and all ethnic groups. Every aspect of the American family is experiencing change. These include the number of adults who marry the number of households that are formed by married people, the number of children that are conceived, and the economic role of mothers, the number of non-family households, and even the importance of marriage in accounting for total births. In 2000 a third of the men and a quarter of the women were listed as never having married. The decline in marriage among whites is occurring at a slower pace than among blacks, but both are experiencing rising trends in unmarried adults. By 2000, 22 percent of adult white women and 42 percent of adult black women had never married. This rise in the ratio of people never married is also reflected in historical changes in the...
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