American Families Changes and Diversity

Families have changed greatly over the past 60 years, and they continue to become more diverse.

  • Why is the family considered the most important agent of socialization?
  • What caused the dramatic changes to the American family? What are those changes?
  • Describe the differences in marriage and family life that are linked to class, race, gender, and personal choice.
  • Do you feel the trend toward diverse families is positive or negative?
  • If the trend changed toward traditional (pre-World War II) families, how would that affect women’s rights?

Over the past 60 years, the family unit has undergone some of the most perceptible changes in recent history.   It has, essentially, morphed from a homogenous entity into one which is increasingly becoming diverse to keep up with changes witnessed in a fast-paced world. According to Golombok (2015), this phenomenon is linked to gradual vagaries impacting prevailing attitudes regarding cross-cultural marriages and exposure to different societies which prompts cross-cultural nuptial unions.  This paper will, therefore, provide an in-depth evaluation of the reasons why family is considered the most important agent of socialization, causative agents associated with dramatic changes to the archetypal American family, and differences in marriage and family life linked to class, race, gender, and personal. Additionally, this paper will also feature my sentiments on the trend toward diverse families and the effect, on women’s rights, of a putative change toward pre-World War II families.

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Why is the family considered the most important agent of socialization?

            The family unit is considered as one of the most important agents of socialization in modern times. It has traditionally been viewed as a fundamental element of society where coordinated dynamics are harnessed to serve as useful conduits for imparting core values, ideals, ethics, and principles (Kendall, 2014). Families now play the role of modeling go-betweens primarily tasked with molding children as they grow and develop within an environment ridden with a multitude of complexities. It goes without saying that the family unit has an intense impact on children and serves as a vital influence. The subjective nature of the impact of family on socialization far supersedes the influence of school and media as change agents in society. The family conveys socio-cultural values to children from the initial stages of development to adulthood (Saccombe, 2015). It is also noteworthy to acknowledge that the various manifestations of family all play a central role in the socialization of children.  Two parent families, single-parent households, and blended families all follow a composite working plan grounded in teaching children how to interact with others  and social expectations. Families also play a central role in relaying important information in relation to behavioral norms which would enable them navigate expeditiously in life and fit appropriately into society.

What caused the dramatic changes to the American family? What are those changes?

            The American family has undergone a series of dramatic changes over the course of the 21st century. These changes have occasioned a higher frequency of divorce resulting in co-parenting arrangements, households with same-sex parent, high prevalence of adoptions, cohabitation with marital commitment, and role-reversal to meet occupational demands as is the case in military families. The period between the 19th and 20th centuries was characterized by adherence to customary perspectives about the family and a dependence on conservative systems of belief (Castelloe, 2011). At this juncture, women were prepared to serve the role a future wife, mother, care giver, and homemaker. Men, on the other hand, were expected to head their households; serving as both protectors and providers. They would also use their position of influence within the societal hierarchy to identify a woman capable of taking up the aforementioned responsibilities as a wife.

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Nevertheless, this has changed histrionically. While divorce was a rare occurrence nearly six decades ago, it is now commonplace among married couples claiming to contend with numerous so-called “irreconcilable differences”.  This then results in a high level of emotional disruption for children due to a breakdown in relations between both parties. Although a variety in the type of families found in the United States is a welcome addition, a significant change in the traditional family structure is bound to affect socialization and proper development of a child.  Similarly, an increase in the number of children born out of wedlock creates a new scenario where their best interests are rarely considered thus creating a complicated co-parenting relationship detrimental to their overall wellbeing.

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Describe the differences in marriage and family life that are linked to class, race, gender, and personal choice.

            Several differences in marriage and family life are now inherently linked to class, race gender, and personal choice. For instance, societal stratification has had a massive impact on the development of children simply based on stark income difference and the resulting participation of parents within such arrangements. Low income families are characterized by an emphasis on academic excellence, conventionality, and respect for authority figures. Conversely, wealthy families typically encourage children to pursue their dreams by creating an enabling environment where creativity and abstract thinking is encouraged. Additionally, parents from a low socio-economic background have been known to have lower education levels compared to their wealthy counterparts. This goes a long way in determining their offspring’s future due to a vague idea of careers which are suitable for their children and what they should aspire to become. It is due to this lack of clarity that children from such families which generally hinders their success.

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On the other hand, children from wealthy families are normally raised in an environment with a college-educated parent with an extensive wealth of knowledge regarding all available career options. They are ultimately better placed in identifying specific areas of competence linked their ability which is linked to a practical sense of direction offered within their households. Additionally, racial and ethnic differences also explain the variances in family structure instability. According to Seccombe (2015), the instability witnessed among many African-American teens and non-White Hispanic American males may be as a result of a family structure which increases the chances of delinquent behavior, non-marital sex, and non-marital birth. This phenomenon is particularly linked to the socioeconomic stress that often stems from uncertainty within unions.

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Do you feel the trend toward diverse families is positive or negative? If the trend changed toward traditional (pre-World War II) families, how would that affect women’s rights?

            I firmly contend that the trend towards diverse families is positive and should be encouraged for posterity. Such families create an ideal environment for children to develop fully by acknowledging and accepting diversity as a contemporary reality which should be embraced fully. Cross-cultural interactions are also bound to create individuals who are more appreciative of differences which are crucial in today’s society. Diverse family structures are essential in creating an enabling environment for children to advance and transition during development and the primary reason why it is regarded as a major predictor of developmental outcomes (Hogan et al., 2017).

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They also foster effective parenting which then promotes optimal growth among children.  Conversely, the trend towards traditional (pre-World War II) families would have far-reaching implications for human rights. This is because of an overall retrogression in the role of a woman in society which would revert to women being viewed only as wives and their role as mothers. This would be in contrast to the massive leaps that women have made over the past century through the suffrage movement and feminist campaigns which created a sense of independence, empowerment, and autonomy.             

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In conclusion, the family unit has undergone drastic changes over the past 60 years. Yet, the family still remains the main socialization agent by imparting knowledge, values, ethics, and a society’s beliefs to children. The American family has undergone a series of dramatic changes which include resulting in co-parenting arrangements, households with same-sex parent, high prevalence of adoptions, cohabitation with marital commitment, and role-reversal to meet occupational demands. Nevertheless, diversity has had a lasting impact on the family which is also why returning to traditional perspectives of family should be avoided to avoid infringing upon women’s rights.

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