The change in the dynamics occurring within the family structure and the factors that have contributed to their change are important while attempting to predict the course that events will take in the future and what the current state of affairs might contribute to this further change.
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In the 2016 census, families with married couples consisted of 67% of the families in Canada which is a decline from the percentage of 70.5 that was observed in 2011. Common law relationships have quadrupled from 5.6% in 1981 to 16.7% in 2011. In 12.6% of families in Canada, at least one child is not the biological child of one of the parents or is the adopted child of one of the parents. It was also estimated that close to 30,000 foster children were living in private residents/households as of 2016. The number of families run and supported by single parents also increased from 8.4% in 1961 to 16.3% in 2006 while the number of families that involve same sex married couples has increased to 72,880 which constitutes almost 1% of the number of married couples in Canada (Eichler, 2012).
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There has also been a growing trend of grandparents (members of the extended family) living with the family in the same resident. Moreover, there has also been a growing trend in marriage between visible members of minority groups as and non-members as well as between two members of visible minority groups (Eichler, 2012)
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The decline in the number of traditional marriage setups within a family can be postulated to have be linked to the rate at which Canadians get married. This rate has been on the decline since the great depression to date, witnessing significant decline during the Second World War when there were no single men to marry because most young men had gone off to serve. This decline was followed by a slight increase in the wake of the new Millennium and gradual decline ever since (Eichler, 2012).The events of the great depression seem to inform an observer that the decision to get married is related to the economic capacity of an individual with unemployment and low economic conditions being negative indicators for marriage and low income earners becoming less likely to marry.
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The increase in the incidence of common law couples can be attributed to the decline in the stigma associated with this kind of cohabitation and the shift of societal norms regarding norms to regard it as a choice rather than an obligation. The increase in the number of same sex marriages can be traced back to the legalization of these unions in 2005. The increase in number of single parent families is from the result of the frequent dissolution of common law unions, divorce and separation of married couples, having children outside of the marriage union and the death of a spouse (Eichler,2012). The increase in foster children living in private households can be attributed to the rise in the average age of marriage for men and women, which has encumbered the reproductive process due to low fertility levels in older ages and necessitated the process of adoption. The increase in mixed marriages can be attributed to the incredible diversity acquired by the Canadian population that was quite absent in the 1950s.
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The family and the dynamics that define it have changed significantly from the image presented by the video of the 1950s family dinner, with the rise in divorce rates have come single parent families. With the increase tolerance has come same sex marriages and common law marriages. The family institution has evolved via the catalysts discussed above to become an individualized affair rather than a norm governed by societal rules.
What new developments in family dynamics might occur in the future?
In the coming years, the picture of the perfect family is going to change significantly and what seems shocking about the statistics will seem to fade away as the society adopts a more relaxed attitude towards the institution of marriage. More members of the extended family might be found in the residents of many families due to the increase in single parent households and the need for support systems.
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The family will undergo significant legal and social transformation in the coming years due to the diversity in family composition that will continue to be present in the Canadian population. Social and legal reforms that define the rights and responsibilities of step-parents as well as those of biological (non-resident) parents might be initiated to prevent the overlap in responsibility and competing interests that is an ever present source of conflict for children who have two divorced biological parents who have remarried (Eichler,2012).
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More and more religious organizations will begin endorsing same sex marriages, the percentage of Canadians who have remarried more than once might increase as well as the number of male lone parents and foster children living in private households. The age gap between married couples will increase significantly, older, divorced men will marry younger women due to the lowered fertility levels in older women and younger women will marry older men due to the desire for economic stability.
The average age at which women with vibrant careers will increase as the acquisition of wealth and independent status seems to become an incredible priority for many women. It will not be uncommon to find married couples that have no children as women and men in the upper classes shift from marrying for children to marrying for emotional or economic reasons.
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To conclude, the family, its composition, symbolism and its norms will continue to undergo significant changes over the years as the world evolves and with the ever present effect of the catalysts for change. It is not unlikely that more shocking statistics will emerge in the next census as more people move away from societal norms and live lives fully informed by their own personalities and preferences.
Does anything about 1950s family dynamics surprise you? Explain.
The most surprising aspect of the 1950s family dynamics would be the strict division of labor that seems to characterize the 1950s household with women (wives) being responsible for household duties such as; keeping the family in top most emotional and physical health, caring for the children and housework while men shouldered the responsibility of maintain the economic well-being of the family and ensuring the needs of the family pertaining to this area were always met. This is surprising because, this strict division of labor has not been in practice since the early 1980s, when women started earning their own independent income and contributed to the financial needs of the family with the same or even greater amounts compared to their male counterparts.
Moreover, family laws have since moved away from these gender-based specifications of responsibilities within a family unit and accorded each parent equal responsibility for home related activities. Indeed, this archaic division of labor seems to almost disappear in 2010 when 65% of males and 76% of females reported engaging in housework (Eichler,2012). Furthermore, majority of children being in some form of childcare or cared for by someone other than the parent during the day and there has also been an increase in the number of lone male parents who were not considered as ideal caregivers in the 1950s.
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