In the United States the most common type of family structure adopted is the Nuclear family which consists of a father, mother and kids. It is structured around the concept of a single family unit based on the concept that it is able to independently support itself. The number of children is not fixed but when the family is unable to cater to the needs of its members and more members are involved in managing a home’s finances it becomes an extended family. Yet, the extended family structure was never that prevalent in the United States at any period in time.
In recent years a gradual shift has been observed in the family structures and the lifestyles practiced in them. The structure has changed due to numerous factors such as the acceptance of single parenting by the society, more open approach to adoptions and government permission of homosexuals to marry and begin families. Also the number of kids play a crucial role in determining the family structure as there are many households which just have a couple who have no desire for having kids (AEM, 2005).
A rising trend is the Single parent household, with one parent, either the mother or the father, taking full responsibility of the kids and not requiring the help of the other parent.
This kind of household is rising due to the increasing divorce rates and increasing opportunities for both sexes to indulge in activities which did not fall under the responsibilities of the gender role. Such as, fathers becoming more sensitive to their children’s needs and problems and mothers working to bring money home to support the family.
Grandparents are also becoming more involved in the raising of the grandchildren rather than the parents. Many people regard this phenomenon in a negative light as parents shirk their responsibilities leaving the care of their own children to their parents and not providing a nurturing environment themselves.
With recent amendments in legal rights, homosexuals have been given the right to marry in many states and also the right to adopt children. The right of homosexuals to adopt children is widely debated as being immoral and corrupting the children making them turn into homosexuals themselves but there is no such evidence of such parents influencing their kids to choose their sexual orientation.
As is evident the central focus towards the structure of a family in the United States is towards the degree of care towards the children of the household. But in recent years we have observed a sharp decline in the birth rates of kids and population growth is stagnating as the desire for kids is stemming in couples (America’s Families- Changing Family Structures).
In my opinion the nuclear family is still the most viable option for having the best household atmosphere as all the natural constituents are there to support each other in a meaningful relationship. Yet however, the second best alternative to a nuclear household would probably be an extended household structure. It is widely popular in many countries such as China, India and other Asian countries. the reason I believe that the extended family system is suitable for households is because it saves resources with parents getting time to pursue their own activities as relatives could take care of kids on short notice as well as kids having the company that they require at all times.
AEM. (2005, December 12). A Look at the Different Types of Families in America. Retrieved December 30, 2008, from Associated Content: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/13363/a_look_at_the_different_types_of_families.html
America’s Families- Changing Family Structures. (n.d.). Retrieved December 31, 2008, from America’s Families: http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/1315/America-s-Families-CHANGING-FAMILY-STRUCTURE.html