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Stereotypical American Family

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According to Eberstadt, more American children are born out of wedlock, which points to the collapse of the traditional family structure of the country (Yoshihara). In addition, a number of Americans, who describe themselves as distant from religion people, constantly grows, especially among the youth.

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Over the past 30 years, the family in the U.S. has undergone a significant transformation. Being the central institution of American society, the family is now playing a less important role than before. The share of adults, who have never married, an increasing number of divorces, declining birth rates and the proportion of children born in marriage changed the model of a traditional family. In 1998, a model of the family in early 60's - a legally married couple with children - is no longer dominant. Simultaneously, “The number of single mothers increased from three million to 10 million between 1970 and 2000” (Groundspark). Conversely, the proportion of children who are raised in a stable family is reduced from 73% in 1972 to 49% in 1996 and 52% in 1998. Thus, a stable family is not the norm.

Another important change concerns the division of family roles. Female labor force increased from 49% in 1970 to 71.5% in 1995 mainly due to the increase in conomic activity of women with young children. The share of traditional family with a traditional housewife was 53% of registered families in 1972; by 1998 it dropped to 21%. In contrast, the proportion of families with two working spouses increased to 59% of married couples in 1995. Moreover, the contribution of women to the family income does not cease to grow. Since 1994, 22.5% of households’ income consists mainly of the income of a woman. Thus, in one generation, the American family has undergone profound changes. Society changed the attitudes to the family. Americans continue to recognize the importance of marriage, though about half of the population admits that divorce is the best option for the couple, who could not solve their problems. Most Americans want to have children, but the number of desired children in the family declined. The model of upbringing and children’s education has also changed. The emphasis on obedience to parents is not so seen than before, whereas children get wanted autonomy. The family values, such as "the need for hard work" gained an increasing importance now, being minor in the past. The main feature of the stereotypical American family is to maintain good neighborly relations and to participate in public life. However, over the past 30 years, these links have weakened, but the intensity of communication with parents and frriends remained almost the same. This is due to the fact that more women are now working.

Traditional family inevitably loses to the other forms of private life organization, which seem to be more flexible and appropriate to the realities of the post-industrial society. One should not forget about such an important principle of Western society as individualism, which development is closely related to the dynamics of market relations. In an extremely individualized society, the stereotypical family is unstable and non-traditional forms of organization of the household, however, show high vitality and become ordinary.

Wide distribution of these forms is explained by their correspondence to the needs of modern society. Therefore, one cannot state that it correct to consider households of one parent families, simply as a result of the crisis in the traditional family models, as some of its fragments. This is actually a separate and stable existing form of organization of private life, consistent with efficiency. The U.S. will further see the transformation of the traditional family and will change the views on gender equality and women's economic activity. Thus, the family model of the XXI century will be generated, which will eventually replace the stereotypical family model.

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