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The American Family - Essay Example

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This paper highlights these changes which have brought about a new structure of the contemporary American family. The paper also points out the main idea found in articles by Popenoe (2003)…
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The American Family al affiliation The American Family The American family has gone through several changes from the nineteenth century to date. This paper highlights these changes which have brought about a new structure of the contemporary American family. The paper also points out the main idea found in articles by Popenoe (2003) and Coontz (2003).
Popenoe (2003) is a strong advocate for a nuclear family where children grow up with a father and a mother. However, in the American family this changed after 1950s. This is because men became more promiscuous and were not keen to take responsibility for the children they sired. The woman became a working being who viewed the nuclear family as an oppressive institution. The development of modern technology, contraceptives and abortion allowed women to have active sexual lives without worrying about pregnancy and childbearing. Boden (2005) testifies that more women have joined the working class and single parenthood is on the rise. As a result, parents have little free time with their children, which is unhealthy.
Earlier on, the men worked while women stayed at home as full time house wives, and marriage focused more on companionship and reproduction rather than romance and sex (Popenoe, 2003). Popenoe (2003) further argues that there is a call to revive the American nuclear family by emphasizing the importance of monogamy. This can be achieved through countering the sexual revolution, promoting marriage and renewing a cultural focus on children.
On the contrary, Coontz (2003) believes that many American families are better off today than in the past where women were not allowed to work, infant mortality was high and few children graduated from school. Today, both men and women have more choices than in the past. For instance, since the woman spends more hours at work than in the house, families have fewer children. This means that children get individualized attention from the parents. This was not so in the past. Moreover, people not only have the freedom to marry from the same or opposite sex or even remain unmarried, but also no one is under pressure to stay in an unhappy marriage. Men are no longer the main breadwinners in their families unless by choice. Furthermore, according to Coontz (2003), parents have learnt to balance between family needs and industrialization.
After a thorough study of the two articles, the modern structure of the nuclear family is more appealing. Although marriage is indispensable, it is no longer the foundation of a good family. A healthy family is made up of a parent or parents and children. The sexual orientation of the parent is not as weighty as raising children that enjoy the full attention of their parents. Nobody should endure a lousy marriage. McClain (2011) claims that commitment and investment to family can be done without the legal bond of marriage.
In conclusion, such a study on the modern American family is crucial because current and prospective parents can borrow a lot from the two schools of thought. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages but if implemented with caution can raise a powerful future generation.
References
Boden, L. I. (2005). Running on Empty: Families, Time, and Workplace Injuries. American Journal of Public Health, 95(11), 1894-1897.
Coontz, S. (2003). The American family today is not worse off than in the past. In Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. Points & counterpoints controversial relationship and family issues in the 21st century. Los Angeles: Roxbury.
McClain, L. R. (2011). Better Parents, More Stable Partners: Union Transitions Among Cohabiting Parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73(5), 889–901.
Popenoe, D. (2003). Can the nuclear family be revived? In Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. Points & counterpoints controversial relationship and family issues in the 21st century. Los Angeles: Roxbury. Read More
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