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The Changing Face of the American Family

Aug 23, 2008
Fifty years ago, the American family consisted of two married parents who were usually of the same ethnic background and their children. Times have definitely changed. Today, children are being raised in households with every type of family unit imaginable.

Interracial relations have become more commonplace than they were a few years ago. The children that are a result of these relationships do not have to deal with the problems and challenges that were faced by ethnically mixed children of the past. That does not mean that they have no problems at all, however. Teaching your child to embrace and celebrate their race can help build their self esteem and help them to feel as though they "fit in" with other children.

Unfortunately, divorce has also become more commonplace in today's society. Some researchers estimate that 80% of all homes are headed by a single parent, usually the mother. This situation can be extremely difficult for children, especially little boys, who need a male role model in their lives. If you are divorced and do not have custody of your children, you should try to remain as involved in your children's lives as you can.

You and your ex spouse should also agree not to talk negatively about each other in front of the children. This can lead to the children to feel hostile towards the absent parent.

Another type of American family that is becoming more common is couples who choose to live together without marriage. Many of these couples claim that they are happier than their married counterparts as they stay in the relationship because they want to, not because they feel as though they have to. Some of these partners have been together for years and share a good relationship with their children. When asked, most of these couples state that they are married as far as they are concerned. The children that are growing up in this type of family unit do not seem to be detrimentally affected by these circumstances.

More American families consist of a grandparent who is raising her grandchildren. For one reason or another, the child's own parents cannot raise their children. To prevent their grandchildren from entering the foster care system, the grandparent steps in as the main provider. This situation can cause a number of difficulties. A retired grandparent may need to go back to work in order to financially support her grandchildren. These older individuals may not have the stamina that is required in caring for these youngsters. This type of family also destroys any normal grandparent/grandchild bonding as the grandparent is no longer a trusted friend but is now an authority figure.

Not quite as common are children that are being raised by same-sex parents. As gay marriages continue to be legalized in more and more states, this type of family may occur more often. This type of situation will create its own set of problems, including custody issues if one parent leaves or dies unexpectedly. There will need to be new legislature passed to deal with the issues of children in a same-sex family unit.

The traditional American family is becoming a thing of the past. To help your children deal with the issues that pertain to your type of family, you may need to talk to a family therapist or other type of family professional.
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