What do you think is essential for healthy family functioning

What do you think is essential for healthy family functioning

1Families and Children

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Learning Outcomes

After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

ሁ Assess the various definitions of family, and explain the key functions that families provide to their members and communities.

ሁ Distinguish key features in American history that have affected how families are structured. ሁ Assess how changes to the idea of family have influenced our concepts of marriage, gender roles,

and social trends.

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Section 1.1Understanding the Family

Introduction Throughout history, children have represented society’s hope for survival and the future. Thus, their development and survival has always been an essential part of any society. How- ever, as the world has developed, changed, and progressed, so too has the way the next gen- eration is raised. Raising children in today’s society can mean many different things. Our goal in this book is to explore family styles and dynamics, child development, and the rich diversity of today’s families. Understanding how children develop and interact with their families and communities will help you anticipate challenges and develop effective strategies for working with children and their families.

This chapter will provide a foundation for many of the concepts we will discuss throughout this book, starting with definitions of what it means to be a family and an exploration of family functions and structures. The second section of this chapter will cover some of the key eras in American history that have affected how families formed, developed, and operated. In the third and final section of this chapter, we will examine how changes to the idea of family have influenced traditional family roles and larger societal trends. Keep an open mind as you read this chapter and be prepared to challenge what you know about families.

1.1 Understanding the Family Understanding how families evolve and function in society is critical to being able to work effectively with them. This first section is intended to serve as a foundation for many of the concepts discussed throughout this book. In our quest to understand family, we will begin by attempting to define family. We will begin this quest by meeting Todd and Sharon in the fol- lowing The Evolving Family feature box. Todd and Sharon are members of two types of fami- lies we will follow throughout this chapter.

Defining Family Families are generally viewed as the primary unit in which children are raised and learn about the world. However, defining family is not an easy thing to do. There are a variety of per- spectives on what it means to be a family. Representing the historical perspective, Elkin and Handel (1978) defined family as “the first unit with which children have a continuous contact and the first context in which socialization patterns develop” (p.118). The historical notion of the traditional family included “married partners and children residing in a household.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s perspective acknowledges that family structures can vary and offers the following definitions of family:

1. A traditional “nuclear family” of two parents and their children, and where the par- ents are presumed to be acting in the best interests of their children;

2. An extended-kin model of family made up of a community of parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives which should be recognized as a primary family, even if the blood-ties are not as strong as in a nuclear family; and

3. An individualist model where family members are autonomous and individuality should be respected (Dolgin, 2002).

And according to the U.S. Census Bureau,

T h e e v O L v I n g F a m I L y : M E E T T O D D A n D S H A R O n Family composition and roles change over one’s lifespan. During infancy and the early years of child development, individuals are typically cared for by their family. As individu- als age and maturation occurs, the family composition changes, adapts, or is intentionally modified. As unique as the individuals who comprise today’s families are, so too are the structures and processes by which families exist. In this chapter, we will follow Todd and Sharon as they experience the evolution of family. As you read these features, consider how external influences have shaped your life, expectations, and definition of family.

Todd After Todd’s parents divorced, their shared custody agreement determined that he would spend four days of the week at his mother’s home with her new husband and his three chil- dren from a previous relationship, and three days, including weekends, with his father. The split was originally amicable until Todd’s mother remarried. His parents worked very hard to reassure Todd that their divorce had nothing to do with him and that for the most part everything else would remain the same. Todd remained active in the extracurricular activ- ities he had always participated in since childhood, and stayed at his mother’s house four out of five weekdays so that he could remain at his current high school for his Junior and Senior years. While Todd was typically an A and B student, his grades declined due to the added family stress he experienced before, during, and after his parents’ divorce. Todd’s parents send him to a therapist once a week for added support. Through conversations with Todd, his therapist quickly noticed that Monday mornings seemed to be a difficult time for Todd. She noted that while Todd’s time at his mother’s house included supervised activities with the family, his father’s efforts to provide financial support left little time for leisure activities.

Sharon Sharon’s parents truly believed in family first, so when her paternal grandfather passed away and her grandmother’s health began to decline, Sharon’s family quickly relocated to her father’s hometown to be closer to her ailing grandmother. Sharon’s mother, a teaching assistant, quickly found work with a child care program in the area and her father trans- ferred to his company’s local office. In an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy, the fam- ily decided to move into a small rental home near Sharon’s grandmother. After Sharon’s mother was laid off in a reduction in force, her parents found it difficult to maintain the mortgage on both her grandmother’s home, which had been in the family for several gener- ations, and on their rental home. Eventually, Sharon’s family moved into her grandmother’s home. Sharon quickly became the primary caregiver for her grandmother and younger sis- ter, as her mother worked with a temp agency and her father worked overtime in an effort to maintain the middle-class lifestyle to which their family had become accustomed.

Discussion Questions 1. How does Todd’s family composition differ from Sharon’s? 2. What do you think are the anticipated challenges and benefits of each family’s

composition?

© 2016 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution.

 

 

Section 1.1Understanding the Family

Introduction Throughout history, children have represented society’s hope for survival and the future. Thus, their development and survival has always been an essential part of any society. How- ever, as the world has developed, changed, and progressed, so too has the way the next gen- eration is raised. Raising children in today’s society can mean many different things. Our goal in this book is to explore family styles and dynamics, child development, and the rich diversity of today’s families. Understanding how children develop and interact with their families and communities will help you anticipate challenges and develop effective strategies for working with children and their families.

This chapter will provide a foundation for many of the concepts we will discuss throughout this book, starting with definitions of what it means to be a family and an exploration of family functions and structures. The second section of this chapter will cover some of the key eras in American history that have affected how families formed, developed, and operated. In the third and final section of this chapter, we will examine how changes to the idea of family have influenced traditional family roles and larger societal trends. Keep an open mind as you read this chapter and be prepared to challenge what you know about families.

1.1 Understanding the Family Understanding how families evolve and function in society is critical to being able to work effectively with them. This first section is intended to serve as a foundation for many of the concepts discussed throughout this book. In our quest to understand family, we will begin by attempting to define family. We will begin this quest by meeting Todd and Sharon in the fol- lowing The Evolving Family feature box. Todd and Sharon are members of two types of fami- lies we will follow throughout this chapter.

Defining Family Families are generally viewed as the primary unit in which children are raised and learn about the world. However, defining family is not an easy thing to do. There are a variety of per- spectives on what it means to be a family. Representing the historical perspective, Elkin and Handel (1978) defined family as “the first unit with which children have a continuous contact and the first context in which socialization patterns develop” (p.118). The historical notion of the traditional family included “married partners and children residing in a household.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s perspective acknowledges that family structures can vary and offers the following definitions of family:

1. A traditional “nuclear family” of two parents and their children, and where the par- ents are presumed to be acting in the best interests of their children;

2. An extended-kin model of family made up of a community of parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives which should be recognized as a primary family, even if the blood-ties are not as strong as in a nuclear family; and

3. An individualist model where family members are autonomous and individuality should be respected (Dolgin, 2002).

And according to the U.S. Census Bureau,

T h e e v O L v I n g F a m I L y : M E E T T O D D A n D S H A R O n Family composition and roles change over one’s lifespan. During infancy and the early years of child development, individuals are typically cared for by their family. As individu- als age and maturation occurs, the family composition changes, adapts, or is intentionally modified. As unique as the individuals who comprise today’s families are, so too are the structures and processes by which families exist. In this chapter, we will follow Todd and Sharon as they experience the evolution of family. As you read these features, consider how external influences have shaped your life, expectations, and definition of family.

Todd After Todd’s parents divorced, their shared custody agreement determined that he would spend four days of the week at his mother’s home with her new husband and his three chil- dren from a previous relationship, and three days, including weekends, with his father. The split was originally amicable until Todd’s mother remarried. His parents worked very hard to reassure Todd that their divorce had nothing to do with him and that for the most part everything else would remain the same. Todd remained active in the extracurricular activ- ities he had always participated in since childhood, and stayed at his mother’s house four out of five weekdays so that he could remain at his current high school for his Junior and Senior years. While Todd was typically an A and B student, his grades declined due to the added family stress he experienced before, during, and after his parents’ divorce. Todd’s parents send him to a therapist once a week for added support. Through conversations with Todd, his therapist quickly noticed that Monday mornings seemed to be a difficult time for Todd. She noted that while Todd’s time at his mother’s house included supervised activities with the family, his father’s efforts to provide financial support left little time for leisure activities.

Sharon Sharon’s parents truly believed in family first, so when her paternal grandfather passed away and her grandmother’s health began to decline, Sharon’s family quickly relocated to her father’s hometown to be closer to her ailing grandmother. Sharon’s mother, a teaching assistant, quickly found work with a child care program in the area and her father trans- ferred to his company’s local office. In an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy, the fam- ily decided to move into a small rental home near Sharon’s grandmother. After Sharon’s mother was laid off in a reduction in force, her parents found it difficult to maintain the mortgage on both her grandmother’s home, which had been in the family for several gener- ations, and on their rental home. Eventually, Sharon’s family moved into her grandmother’s home. Sharon quickly became the primary caregiver for her grandmother and younger sis- ter, as her mother worked with a temp agency and her father worked overtime in an effort to maintain the middle-class lifestyle to which their family had become accustomed.

Discussion Questions 1. How does Todd’s family composition differ from Sharon’s? 2. What do you think are the anticipated challenges and benefits of each family’s

composition?

A family includes a householder and one or more people living in the same household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. All people in a household who are related to the householder are regarded as members of his or her family. A family household may contain people not

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Section 1.1Understanding the Family

related to the householder, but those people are not included as part of the householder’s family in census tabulations. (2001, p. A-1)

As illustrated by the many definitions of “family,” there are a variety of family types in contem- porary society. As you venture into the field of family behavior and dynamics, you must be conscious of how you interact with children and families. One way to do this is to be culturally responsive and acknowledge and respect the uniqueness of each family. Being culturally responsive means that you affirm the cultures of the children and families with whom you work, and that you view their cultures and experiences as strengths” (Gollnick & Chinn, 2009). We will discuss cultural responsiveness from various perspectives throughout this text.

Family Structures and Family Functions There is no such thing as a “typical” or “normal” family composition in contemporary society. Family structures, or kinds of family configurations, can include, but are not limited to:

• Adoptive families • Blended families • Extended families • Families of divorce • Foster families • nuclear families • Single parent families by choice • Single parent families by situation • Same sex families • Separated families • Transitioning families

We will discuss family structures more in Chapter 2; however, all families, regardless of their structure, have a function. Family functions are the essential tasks that all families perform to meet the essential needs of the children and other family members. According to Berger (2011), these include:

• Meeting the physical needs of children. Families provide shelter, food, clothes, and medical care.

• Encouraging learning. Schools cannot succeed without family support, collaboration, and school-family communication.

P a U S e a n D R e F l e c t: W H O D O Y O U C O n S I D E R F A M I l Y ? Take a moment to reflect on the way you would have defined your family as a nine year old.

Reflection Questions 1. Who were the members of your family? 2. Were these individuals genetically related to you? 3. now consider your current definition of family. How has this definition changed

over time?

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Section 1.1Understanding the Family

• Contributing to the development of self-esteem. Families need to help their children feel competent, loved, and appreciated. We will examine the developmental process of self-esteem more closely in Chapters 2 and 3.

• Providing harmony, stability, and consistency. Children need to feel psychologically and physically safe at home; they need to feel protected and experience a predictable environment.

Families and parents do not exist in a vacuum; they reflect and contribute to the cultures and societies from which they come. As we will see later in this chapter and throughout the book, societal, historical, and cultural forces significantly impact contemporary families (Socha & Stamp, 2009).

The lives of children are heavily dependent on their caregivers’ choices, choices which are in turn influenced by their caregivers’ family, community, and cultural norms. Cultural norms are customs and rules that guide the behaviors, expectations, and responses of a group. They can provide insight into how an individual will respond when becoming a parent or caregiver and dictate appropriate reproductive patterns, caregiving practices, and familial roles, all of which affect the developing child. For some, the decision to become a parent is a conscious one based on careful planning and consideration; for others, this decision may be unplanned. Regardless, families have a function and a direct effect on the development and behavior of the children within them.

The way in which families function has been viewed as one of the greatest predictors of a child’s psychological well-being. For emotional well-being, infants and toddlers need sensi- tive, responsive adult caregivers. They need warm, caring adults who are able to form endur- ing relationships (Honig, 2002). An infant’s survival is dependent upon the willingness of oth- ers to provide for his or her primary needs. When caregivers are responsive, children learn to trust those around them. “Infants are ready from birth to connect emotionally, interact, and start relationships with their primary caregivers” (Freeney, Galper, & Seefeldt, 2009, p. 60). The individuals that comprise a family provide the first relationships that a child will experi- ence. It is from these relationships that children develop their expectations for the future. Family Systems Theory, discussed in the next section, is one of the most common frameworks in which to view how families function.

the Family Systems theory According to Turner and Welch (2012), “The manner in which parents interact with and guide their children influences the child’s development in more ways than are immediately visible” (p.30). With this in mind, professionals must seek to understand the children within the context of their families and communities. Family instability is commonly associated with the inability to complete necessary family tasks, and when families function ineffectively or are not able to fulfill their family tasks, the results can affect the larger community. According to Robles de Melendez and Beck (2010), there are six key tasks that effective families provide:

• Basic needs • Socialization tasks • Emotional support and spirituality • Economic tasks • Educational tasks • Crisis management tasks

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Section 1.1Understanding the Family

Dr. Murray Bowen’s Family Systems theory, developed in the 1950s, is a theoretical frame- work that focuses on universal characteristics found among families (boundaries, roles, rules, hierarchy, climate, and equilibrium). It views families in the context of interconnected and interdependent individuals by examining each individual family member’s influence on each other in predictable, consistent ways, with an emphasis on family dynamics and communica- tion styles. The individuals that comprise the system are a collection of friends, coworkers, or family members. The primary focus is the dynamic of the group rather than the individuals who are a part of the group. like a well-oiled machine, a family system is a cohesive unit in which each member is affected by others in the system. If the family system is destabilized by

the actions or decisions of one member, the remaining parts of the system must adapt. Family Systems Theory is com- monly viewed from two perspectives: family composition and family process (Mclanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

The family composition perspective examines the impact of the family struc- ture and suggests that two-parent, intact families are optimal for a child’s develop- ment. Proponents of this approach argue the benefits of two biological parents and the social capital the two parents can provide. Social capital is considered the emotional, economic, and educational support that famlies provide (Mclanahan and Sandefur, 1994). For example, when children live with both biological parents,

they are said to benefit from the ability to interact with and learn from two knowledgable adults who are invested in the wellbeing of their children. The biological parents in an intact family are thought to be fully invested in the successful outcomes of their children and thus

are likely to provide the necessary sup- port associated with positive outcomes (Mclanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

Family process researchers, on the other hand, support the position that the pro- cess of the family can mitigate the impact of the family structure, focusing on the quality of the parent-child relationships within each family configuration (Acock & Demo, 1994). In other words, unlike the family compostion belief, the family pro- cess perspective supports the belief that social capital does not have to come from both biological parents, but can be pro- vided by another individual, including a single parent. The value is perceived to be in the quality of the adult interaction rather than in the quantity (Mclanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock ሁ According to the family composition perspective,

children raised by two biological parents benefit from a greater amount of social capital than other family systems.

David Sacks/Digital Vision/Thinkstock ሁ According to family process perspective, non-

biological and single-parent families can create just as supportive environments as biological, two- parent families; in some cases they can be more supportive.

T h e e v O L v I n g F a m I L y : T O D D A n D S H A R O n A S A C O U P l E Sharon and Todd attend the same high school and saw one another in the hallways numer- ous times. While at first glance the two seemed to have little in common, their platonic friendship became romantic. However, they were concerned about the interracial nature of their relationship (Sharon is Black and Todd is White). Interracial dating was not common in their community, so they worked diligently to keep their relationship a secret. Sharon assumed that her parents would not approve of her relationship with Todd based on con- versations she had overhead about the contentious racial climate in their community, while Todd avoided most conversation with his mother and rarely saw his father.

In an attempt to escape the stress of dating in secret, which they had been doing for a year, Sharon and Todd decide they will move into a small apartment together their senior year of high school. While their friends accepted this decision as the “next step” to their rela- tionship, they were very apprehensive about telling their parents. When Sharon formally introduced Todd to her family and informed them of their plan to move in together, her parents were less than pleased with her decision to cohabit. Yet they were also relieved when Sharon agreed to remain close to the family home to continue caring for her sister and grandmother while she completed high school. She also agreed to attend classes at the local university after graduation.

When Todd mentioned his plans to move in with Sharon and get a full-time job after high school, rather than go on to college, his mother expressed her disappointment and ended their rare conversations. Todd’s father initially appeared to accept Sharon. However, he later expressed concern about Todd’s well-being given the racial tension in the area and predicted that neither of them would graduate high school.

Discussion Questions 1. How has the proposal of moving in together changed Todd’s and Sharon’s family

structures and functions? 2. Is the Family Systems Theory applicable to this scenario? If so, how?

© 2016 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution.

 

 

Section 1.2Historical Influences on Family Development

1.2 Historical Influences on Family Development To better understand the modern family, it is important to consider the cultural and economic events that have modified it over the course of time. These events impact the way families function and also shape the social identity of the individuals within the family. Social identity is the way in which individuals view themselves, how they interact with others, and how they live their lives. Because social identity is influenced by both time and context, it is in a con- stant state of flux. For example, the history of the American family, as well as in most devel- oped nations, can be described in three economic eras: agricultural, industrial, and service.

The agricultural era (1500 to 1800) This era reflects a historical period in which most people survived on income earned from agricultural work or farming land. While by present day standards these individuals were primarily self-employed, their wages were not significant. Most families during this period grew or made many of the items they needed for daily living and bartered for items they could

Dr. Murray Bowen’s Family Systems theory, developed in the 1950s, is a theoretical frame- work that focuses on universal characteristics found among families (boundaries, roles, rules, hierarchy, climate, and equilibrium). It views families in the context of interconnected and interdependent individuals by examining each individual family member’s influence on each other in predictable, consistent ways, with an emphasis on family dynamics and communica- tion styles. The individuals that comprise the system are a collection of friends, coworkers, or family members. The primary focus is the dynamic of the group rather than the individuals who are a part of the group. like a well-oiled machine, a family system is a cohesive unit in which each member is affected by others in the system. If the family system is destabilized by

the actions or decisions of one member, the remaining parts of the system must adapt. Family Systems Theory is com- monly viewed from two perspectives: family composition and family process (Mclanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

The family composition perspective examines the impact of the family struc- ture and suggests that two-parent, intact families are optimal for a child’s develop- ment. Proponents of this approach argue the benefits of two biological parents and the social capital the two parents can provide. Social capital is considered the emotional, economic, and educational support that famlies provide (Mclanahan and Sandefur, 1994). For example, when children live with both biological parents,

they are said to benefit from the ability to interact with and learn from two knowledgable adults who are invested in the wellbeing of their children. The biological parents in an intact family are thought to be fully invested in the successful outcomes of their children and thus

are likely to provide the necessary sup- port associated with positive outcomes (Mclanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

Family process researchers, on the other hand, support the position that the pro- cess of the family can mitigate the impact of the family structure, focusing on the quality of the parent-child relationships within each family configuration (Acock & Demo, 1994). In other words, unlike the family compostion belief, the family pro- cess perspective supports the belief that social capital does not have to come from both biological parents, but can be pro- vided by another individual, including a single parent. The value is perceived to be in the quality of the adult interaction rather than in the quantity (Mclanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock ሁ According to the family composition perspective,

children raised by two biological parents benefit from a greater amount of social capital than other family systems.

David Sacks/Digital Vision/Thinkstock ሁ According to family process perspective, non-

biological and single-parent families can create just as supportive environments as biological, two- parent families; in some cases they can be more supportive.

T h e e v O L v I n g F a m I L y : T O D D A n D S H A R O n A S A C O U P l E Sharon and Todd attend the same high school and saw one another in the hallways numer- ous times. While at first glance the two seemed to have little in common, their platonic friendship became romantic. However, they were concerned about the interracial nature of their relationship (Sharon is Black and Todd is White). Interracial dating was not common in their community, so they worked diligently to keep their relationship a secret. Sharon assumed that her parents would not approve of her relationship with Todd based on con- versations she had overhead about the contentious racial climate in their community, while Todd avoided most conversation with his mother and rarely saw his father.

In an attempt to escape the stress of dating in secret, which they had been doing for a year, Sharon and Todd decide they will move into a small apartment together their senior year of high school. While their friends accepted this decision as the “next step” to their rela- tionship, they were very apprehensive about telling their parents. When Sharon formally introduced Todd to her family and informed them of their plan to move in together, her parents were less than pleased with her decision to cohabit. Yet they were also relieved when Sharon agreed to remain close to the family home to continue caring for her sister and grandmother while she completed high school. She also agreed to attend classes at the local university after graduation.

When Todd mentioned his plans to move in with Sharon and get a full-time job after high school, rather than go on to college, his mother expressed her disappointment and ended their rare conversations. Todd’s father initially appeared to accept Sharon. However, he later expressed concern about Todd’s well-being given the racial tension in the area and predicted that neither of them would graduate high school.

Discussion Questions 1. How has the proposal of moving in together changed Todd’s and Sharon’s family

structures and functions? 2. Is the Family Systems Theory applicable to this scenario? If so, how?

© 2016 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution.

 

 

Section 1.2Historical Influences on Family Development

not produce. Individuals were valued for their economic contributions, and while women had little legal power, many men sought skilled women who could contribute as co-providers to the household’s ability to remain self-sufficient.

The Industrial era (about 1800 to 1970) Propelled by the Industrial Revolution in Europe and a number of advances in technology and medicine, the United States experienced its own era of industrialization. During this time, society saw a reduction in infant mortality as life expectancy increased. As industry grew, families and residential patterns shifted. Gains from farm work were replaced with wages earned from industrial jobs as families relocated from rural living arrangements to the more common urban settings of today. In many cases, mandatory public school systems were devel- oped and child labor laws passed to prevent children’s exposure to the harsh working condi- tions familiar to most industrial workers.

In the United States, racial and ethnic demographics became increasingly more diverse during this era as a result of the Mexican-American war (1848), the Civil War and the legal end of slavery (1860), the Spanish-American War (1898), and waves of immigration (mid-1800s to early 1920s). Despite the legal end of slavery in 1860, legal segregation occurred for another century.

The Service era (1970s to Present) As indicated by the name, during the Ser- vice Era employment patterns shifted from industrial to service-sector jobs (i.e. retail, banking, policing etc.). Influenced by several economic and political events, these types of jobs increased wages from previous eras and sparked an increase of women in the work force. With the return to a co-provider structure, known today as dual-income families, house- hold incomes increased. The increase of women in the workforce continues to impact family structures and fuel changes in traditional domestic roles.

Everett Collection/Everett Collection/Superstock ሁ Scenes such as this one were not uncommon

before the passage of child labor laws restricted the age of child workers as well as the conditions under which they might be employed.

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Section 1.3Changes in the Family

1.3 changes in the Family According to Donald J. Hernandez, Chief of the Marriage and Family Statistic branch of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, “never during the past half century were a majority of children born into ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ families” (1995). Hernandez analyzed the impact of the three eras discussed in the previous section (agricultural, industrial, service) on the American family. Hernandez describes at least five major revolutions of family structures (Feldman, 2003). These revolutions are:

1. 1800s: An increase in non-farm work by fathers 2. 1930s: A decrease in family size 3. 1870–1930: An increase in school attendance 4. 1960s: An increase in women entering the workforce 5. 1960s: An increase in one-parent, mother-only families

Hernandez attributes the first revolution to the rise of industrial work by fathers, a shift from the large farm families of the mid-1800s. During this time families consisting of a mother, father, and multiple children worked daily on the farm to support themselves. This revolution

T h e e v O L v I n g F a m I L y : T O D D A n D S H A R O n S T A R T A F A M I l Y Determined to prove their naysayers wrong, Sharon and Todd settled into their small home and worked together to build a better life than each felt they had in their parents’ homes. Sharon fulfilled her promise and continued to assist her family while going to school and working part time to help Todd with their household bills. Todd graduated with honors and accepted a lucrative part-time job with the city in hopes of obtaining a full-time city job in the near future. Sharon and Todd agreed that while the job was too good to pass up, Todd would take night classes and obtain the necessary credential for a management position with the city.

When Sharon was ten months away from graduating with a degree in early childhood education, she learned she was pregnant and would give birth just before graduation. Todd remained a part-time worker with the city where both his hours and compensation increased. The two vowed to work hard to provide for their baby together, and while the idea of marriage had never been an issue for the two of them, they did not want to com- pound two life-changing events. Sharon’s grandmother passed away one week before the birth of Sharon’s daughter, Maia. While Sharon and Todd’s families lived in the same city, their interactions were rare, yet Maia’s birth was a reminder that they were now family. These two once different families now shared a common goal: to love, nurture, and protect the next generation.

Discussion Questions 1. How do you think the birth of Maia will influence their family functions? 2. How might Todd and Sharon’s family circumstances have differed had they lived in one

of the previous historical eras discussed in this section?

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Section 1.3Changes in the Family

forever changed the parental role of the family, with fathers now earning an income outside of the home while many mothers became homemakers responsible for childrearing and domes- tic duties. This change in parental roles contributed to the second revolution, a decrease in family size.

As fathers struggled to support their previously large families with wages from work out- side the home, the traditional family decreased from eight or more children to two or three (Feldman, 2003). The third revolution increased the rate of schooling for children, as moth- ers became homemakers and fathers made a living outside the home. Additional revolutions involved women entering the workforce and the increase of one parent, mother only families in the 1960s.

not only has family structure gone through revolutions, but also the ideal family size has changed over time. In general, families in the United States are smaller today than they were one hundred years ago, and families in developed societies tend to be much smaller than in developing societies (Trawick-Smith, 2014).

As indicated in Figure 1.1, between 1960 and 2000, the number of married couples with chil- dren decreased, while other family structures increased.

Figure 1.1: Proportions of U.S. household types, 1960–2000

100

80

60

40

20

0 1960 1970

P er

ce nt

o f

ho us

eh o

ld s

1980 1990 2000

Family households Nonfamily households

Other nonfamily

Women living alone

Men living alone

Married couples without children

Married couples with children

f01.01

Other families without children

Other families with children

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, March supplements of the Current Population Surveys, 1960 to 2000

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Section 1.3Changes in the Family

Marital Instability and cohabitation Past revolutions in family structure mean that today there are more unmarried mothers lead- ing families, as well as unmarried couples living together. In the 1700s and 1800s, women mar- ried and typically started their families in their late teen years. However, by the 1970s, divorce rates and births to unmarried women increased. The reasons for these changes in the ‘60s and ‘70s include real wages increasing for women and decreasing for men; a weakened economy; women joining the workforce due to the downturn in the economy; and women gaining access to legal rights, education, birth control, and paid work (Mclanahan & Casper, 2001).

Between 1970 and 1999, the percentage of women aged 40 to 44 who were married declined from 82% to 64%. Despite this decrease in marriage rates among women, cohabitation rates increased. Cohabitation is defined as a living arrangement in which an unmarried couple shares a household. Many individuals view cohabitation as a step after dating yet before marriage (for those who do marry) (Turner & Welch, 2012). This also includes unmarried, blended families. According to Child Trends, more than two-thirds of all couples who married for the first time previously cohabited. In 2006, there were 5.5 million unmarried hetero- sexual partner households and 5.3 % of all children under the age of 18 in the U.S. lived in this family structure (Child Trends, 2014).

Social Changes and Trends In addition to the many behavioral and role changes that have occurred since the 1960s, numerous family-related social changes and trends have influenced how we define family. For example, today 51% of all U.S. adults over 18 years of age are married; in 1960, that figure was 72%. In 2012, 40.7% of children born in the U.S. were born to unmarried mothers (Pew Research Center, 2014b). Today, 68% of children live with two parents—either biological or stepparents—and 28% in one-parent homes (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics 2012).

Challenging Traditional Gender Roles All of the changes to the idea of family have led to evolutions in traditional gen- der roles. Balancing family and work responsibilities often requires that two- parent families challenge traditional gen- der roles and learn ways to be more flexi- ble and efficient. However, many parents struggle to change their accustomed roles, partly because they tend to parent like their own parents did, with strictly sepa- rate spheres for husband and wife (Fagan & Palm, 2004; Gary, 1987; Palm & Palkov- itz, 1988; Thompson & Pleck, 1995; Tur- biville & Marques, 2001). Also, many con- temporary immigrants come from societies where gender roles and expectations are more strict or inflexible than in other countries (Roopnarine, Shin, & lewis, 2001).

Jeff Randall/Digital Vision/Thinkstock ሁ More and more families are beginning to

challenge traditional gender roles, although there is still a long way to go before equality is reached.

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Section 1.3Changes in the Family

Although gender is an important factor in determining the distribution of household and child care responsibilities in many families, research suggests that this picture is slowly chang- ing (Coltrane, 2000). In one study, researchers found that from 1989 to 1999, men slightly increased their performance of housework and in households with more balanced sharing of labor, women experienced less depression and higher overall marital satisfaction. However, even though men’s contributions increased, women still performed at least twice as much routine housework as men (Coltrane, 2000). Thus, parents and caregivers need to continually struggle against the temptation to fall into the traditional gender-role trap when considering duties, responsibilities, and job allocation in caring for their children and home.

One approach to addressing gender role changes in contemporary families is for each parent or caregiver to acknowledge, respect, and appreciate all contributions to the family as equal, regardless of the type of job each individual does and whether it is paid or unpaid (e.g., career, job, caring for the children, cooking, repairing the home, attending PTA meetings, or doing housework). Taking an egalitarian approach does not mean that each parent or caregiver should not have clear roles and responsibilities or that every task is necessarily negotiable; what it does mean is that all activities involving the family are seen as equally valid, regardless of who does them (Coltrane, 2000). This sense of equality is, of course, very challenging to achieve, as many have learned to value punctuality, discipline, and work requirements more highly than flexibility, child rearing, healthy give-and-take with one’s spouse, and home- related tasks.

T h e e v O L v I n g F a m I L y : T O D D A n D S H A R O n A S P A R E n T S After their daughter was born, Todd and Sharon married and quickly accepted non- traditional family roles. On a middle working class salary, Sharon and Todd continued to provide for Maia in a way very different than their own parents had provided for them. Todd felt that his part-time status allowed him to be an active emotional provider for his daughter. He enjoyed his daily interactions with Maia and prided himself on being one of only a few fathers actively involved in her preschool. Todd enjoyed fatherhood, and his par- enting style was one of the reasons Sharon agreed that they should plan to have another baby. As a teacher, Sharon was aware of the benefits of effectively planning the birth of their baby to coincide with a school break to reduce the amount of maternity leave she would have to take. Todd did not receive paternity leave; however, he was able to take time off to assist Sharon with her recovery and to help take care of their new child.

now five years old, Maia attends a bilingual French International school for the full school day until Todd picks her up and takes her home on his way to night classes. Maia and her one-year-old brother, Jordan, are often cared for by Todd’s mother in the family’s home.

Discussion Questions 1. Does Todd’s active paternal role reflect your cultural norms? Explain. 2. What influence do you believe Maia’s family will have on her development and

understanding of family?

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Summary and Resources

chapter Summary This chapter provided a foundation for many of the concepts you will encounter throughout this book. We began by defining family and exploring how families function. We then cov- ered key eras in history that influenced how families work. We also discussed some signficant changes to the idea of family, including the changing nature of family structures and the evolv- ing roles within families. In the next chapter, we will take a closer look at some of the common family structures you might encounter in your work with children and families.

Critical Thinking Questions 1. As we discussed in this chapter, the family has undergone some profound changes

in modern times. Which changes, if any, do you think have had positive impacts on families? Which, if any, do you think have had negative impacts on families? Explain.

2. Explain why it can be difficult to define family. Of the definitions we discussed in this chapter, which do you think is the most accurate? Why?

3. What do you think are the most important family functions? Are there any that were not included in this chapter?

4. What do you think is essential for healthy family functioning?

Key terms cohabitation A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple shares a household; in many states, this is not a legally recognized partnership.

cultural norms Informal cultural cus- toms and rules that guide the behaviors,

expectations, and response of the group. These norms may change or be modified.

culturally responsive An approach to working with children and families that affirms their cultures and views their cul- tures and experiences as strengths.

P a U S e a n D R e F l e c t: F A M I l I E S I n T H E M E D I A For many, the 1970 television sitcom The Brady Bunch served as an introduction to a family structure known as the blended family, as two previously married individuals with chil- dren combining their two families remained the story line for the show’s duration. In 1984, The Cosby Show portrayed a family configuration similar to the previous iconic 1950s tele- vision family of Ozzie and Harriet with a noticeable difference in the ethnicity of the main characters.

Both The Brady Bunch and The Cosby Show were popular television shows of their respec- tive times; however, neither reflected the common family configuration of their viewers. While television shows can provide insight into common cultural norms, it is important to note the difference between entertainment and educational information.

Reflection Questions 1. Do you believe today’s reality television accurately portrays the daily lives of the major-

ity of Americans? 2. When seeking information about the children you work with, what do you think should

be the primary source of information?

Summary and Resources

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family composition The makeup of fam- ily structures; the specific individuals who comprise a family.

family composition perspective A view of family systems that examines the impact of the family structure. This perspective sug- gests that two-parent, intact families are optimal for a child’s development.

family functions The essential tasks that all families perform, regardless of the family’s structure, to meet the essential needs of the children and other family members.

family process perspective A view of fam- ily systems that examines the quality of the adult interaction rather than the quantity. This perspective supports the belief that social capital does not have to come from both biological parents, but can be provided by another individual, including a single parent.

family structures The different kinds of family configurations, such as two-parent families, single-parent families, and grand- parents raising grandchildren.

Family Systems theory A theoretical framework that focuses on universal charac- teristics (boundaries, roles, rules, hierarchy, climate, and equilibrium) found among fami- lies. It examines the individual family mem- bers’ influence on each other in predictable, consistent ways, with an emphasis on family dynamics and communication styles.

social capital The emotional, economic, and educational support that families provide to their members.

social identity The way in which individu- als view themselves, how they interact with others, and how they live their lives.

additional Resources U.S. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/ The U.S. Census provides many statistics about the state and nature of American fami- lies. This website is a good place to start when you are researching facts about American families.

Children’s Defense Fund: http://www.childrensdefense.org/ The Children’s Defense Fund is a prominent advocacy and research group that advocates on behalf of children. It is a good place to find resources for children and families in need.

Summary and Resources

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