Family Diversity

Topics: Family, Marriage, Same-sex marriage Pages: 7 (2460 words) Published: May 1, 2006
Diversity In Families

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, "A family consists of a domestic group of people (or a number of domestic groups), typically affiliated by birth or marriage, or by comparable legal relationships-including domestic partnership, adoption, surname and (in some cases) ownership.

Although many people (including social scientists) have understood familial relationships in the terms of "blood", many anthropologists have argued that one must understand the notion of "blood metaphorically, and that many societies understand ‘family' through other concepts rather than through genetics."#

The families of our nation and our world are steadily changing. While they remain our most valued source of strength and comfort, about which we exult and anguish, families are becoming somewhat amorphous. Our uncertainty about their changing shape has fueled acrimonious political debate and engendered widespread discomfort. Many of us would like families to stay the same or, more accurately, stay the way we thought they were, but demographic trends suggest that change and diversity will continue to characterize American family life for years to come. The question is "Can we all tolerate the drastic changes being made?"

Even as family scientists and sociologists dispel our mythology of family with facts, we cling to the Ward-and-June-Cleaver vision of the way we were and ought to be. In truth, we never were as perfectly shaped as we thought. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just 43 percent of families in 1940 were "traditional" in the sense that they had a working father and a homemaker mother and, of course, well-rounded children. Today, less than 20 percent of American families fit nicely into this shape and two-income marriages are now the norm (Otten). Others are blended and step-parent families, single-parent families, and extended families. Still united by the common threads of shared experience and, in the best of circumstances, shared commitment, families have become more elastic. And a growing number of people are choosing to live alone or with partners, friends, co-workers, etc., in what sociologists refer to as "nonfamily" households. #

In order to retain a peaceful society, it is essential to recognize, embrace, and support the family diversity that exists today. Stigmatizing and segregating people who are divorced, punishing single parents, casting stepfamilies as less-than-perfect, shaming unmarried couples, and ignoring the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are not positive approaches for supporting families. Many opponents of diverse families misrepresent and oversimplify both the history and research on which they base their claims. The picture that is painted by these opponents is bleak. In reality, however, there are millions of happy, healthy unmarried families. The challenge is to find effective approaches to supporting these successful families, as well as the ones who are having difficult times. There are several types of families that are represented in America today. Cohabitators

The number of unmarried partners living together is skyrocketing and is steadily climbing of the charts -- it grew 72% between 1990 and 2000. Just a generation or two ago, it was scandalous for an unmarried man and woman to live together. Today, most couples who marry live together first -- "shacking up" has gone mainstream. But that change happened so quickly, it's no wonder things are inconsistent. Some couples find living together is easy. Others find themselves attacked by angry family members, excluded from faith communities, baffled by how to introduce each other, and discriminated against because they're not married. In some places and situations, unmarried partners can get certain legal protections; in other situations, they're considered legal strangers with no rights, even if they've lived together for decades. This usually causes tremendous legal ramifications,...
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