Marriage and Family in America: Needs , Myths, and Dreams. Ch. 1. Science: Transcending Personal Experience. The Blinders of Personal Experience Scientific Investigation: Removing the Blinders. The Blinders of Personal Experience.
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Well-Being and Intimacy
We’ve Lost the Extended Family
People Marry Because They Love Each Other
Having Children Increases Marital Satisfaction
A Good Sex Life Is the Best Predictor of Marital Satisfaction
Happily Married People Don’t Have Conflict
Half of all Marriages End in Divorce
Births to Unmarried Women
-Family is understood to be a social institution.
-Social institutions are patterned and largely predictable ways of thinking and behaving that are organized around vital aspects of group life and serve essential social functions.
-Choices in regard to family have become less predictable, and individuals have differing ideas about one’s obligations to family and society.
-We are witnessing an ongoing social trend that involves increasingly relaxed institutional control over relationship choices.
-How we view this change can be understood via two different perspectives:
Critics have described the relaxation of institutional control over relationships and families as “family decline” or “breakdown.”
Claims that cultural change toward excessive individualism and self-indulgence has led to high divorce rates and could undermine responsible parenting.
Additionally, fewer family households contain children, thus reducing the child-centeredness of society, and overall, weakening the institution of marriage.
Others agree that changes have occurred with family, but argue that change represents the historical evolution of family as a social construct.
Advocates argue that we need to view the family from an historical standpoint.
Families in the past experienced similar challenges in regards to the consequences of illness, death, social class, and race/ethnicity upon the ability to meet the functions of a family.
Today’s family forms need to be seen as historically expected adjustments to changing conditions in the wider society, including the decline in manufacturing jobs, the need for more education, the entry of women into the labor force, and the increased insecurity of middle- and even upper-class jobs.
Economic trends as well as cultural change accounts for subsequent changes in the family.
Family is an “adaptable institution” and, as such, changes in response to larger social change.
1. At any given time, a majority of children live in two-parent households.
2. Individuals experience a variety of living arrangements throughout childhood.
3. Children are more likely to live with a grandparent today than in the recent past.
4. Although most parents are employed, children are more likely than the general population to be living in poverty.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau 1987:45 and 2010a.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Web site and Centers for Disease Control 2010.