Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
The American family is more diverse than ever–even compared to the changing landscape of the past few years with a rise in same-sex marriages, adoptions, and trans-racial families–according to researchers who follow census data on family structure. More from The New York Times:
“This churning, this turnover in our intimate partnerships is creating complex families on a scale we’ve not seen before,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a mistake to think this is the endpoint of enormous change. We are still very much in the midst of it.”
Yet for all the restless shape-shifting of the American family, researchers who comb through census, survey and historical data and conduct field studies of ordinary home life have identified a number of key emerging themes.
Families, they say, are becoming more socially egalitarian over all, even as economic disparities widen. Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago — than even half a year ago.
In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows. Good friends join forces as part of the “voluntary kin” movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally.
Single people live alone and proudly consider themselves families of one — more generous and civic-minded than so-called “greedy marrieds.”
“There are really good studies showing that single people are more likely than married couples to be in touch with friends, neighbors, siblings and parents,” said Bella DePaulo, author of “Singled Out” and a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll be single forever. “There are not just more types of families and living arrangements than there used to be,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of the coming book “Intimate Revolutions,” and a social historian at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. “Most people will move through several different types over the course of their lives.”
At the same time, the old-fashioned family plan of stably married parents residing with their children remains a source of considerable power in America — but one that is increasingly seen as out of reach to all but the educated elite.
“We’re seeing a class divide not only between the haves and the have-nots, but between the I do’s and the I do nots,” Dr. Coontz said. Those who are enjoying the perks of a good marriage “wouldn’t stand for any other kind,” she said, while those who would benefit most from marital stability “are the ones least likely to have the resources to sustain it.”
Image: Multi-colored picket fence, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 21st, 2013
In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out in favor of same sex marriage, saying that partners who are raising children together can offer better benefits and security for their children if they are married.
“Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage,” said Benjamin Siegel, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and a co-author of the policy statement. “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”
The AAP’s previous policy statement, which was last affirmed in 2010, supported second-parent adoption in cases where one member of a couple had a child, but stopped short of calling for the legalization of gay marriage.
“The AAP has long been an advocate for all children, and this updated policy reflects a natural progression in the Academy’s support for families,” said Ellen Perrin, MD, FAAP, co-author of the policy statement. “If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so.”
The AAP cited scientific research that indicates no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and the well-being of children in the policy statement.
Image: Same sex couple with child, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
A proposed piece of legislation before the California state legislature would allow children to have multiple–more than two–legal parents. State Senator Mark Leno says the bill would bring the state into the 21st century, where different kinds of families are becoming more commonplace. The Christian Science Monitor has more:
“The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” the San Francisco Democrat said.
Surrogate births, same-sex parenthood and assisted reproduction are changing society by creating new possibilities for nontraditional households and relationships.
Benjamin Lopez, legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, blasted Leno’s bill as a new attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure by a leader in the drive to legalize gay marriage.
“It comes as no surprise that he would try to say that a child has more than two parents — that’s absurd,” said Lopez, whose group calls itself a leading voice for Bible-based values.
Under Leno’s bill, if three or more people who acted as parents could not agree on custody, visitation and child support, a judge could split those things up among them.
SB 1476 is not meant to expand the definition of who can qualify as a parent, only to eliminate the limit of two per child.
Image: Family, via Shutterstock.
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