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The Changing American Family

             In the fifties the ideal family was a father who worked, a mother who stayed home, and children who went to school. This ideal family structure was the model for the rest of Middle America. It was on the television, in books, and in advertising. It was what every middle class family strove to posses. Any deviation from this was typically looked down upon and ostracized. However, times and social norms have changed rapidly since then. This typical family structure, called the nuclear family, no longer exists in today's world. For example, divorce, which is commonplace to current generations, was rare and shameful to past generations. This model of the perfect family no longer exists, and few expect it to. This ideal family structure has been destroyed by the woman's movement, a need for more income due to materialism, industrialization, Vietnam, and the motives behind marriage changing. A new norm for family structure has emerged. This structure doesn't necessarily have to have two parents married to each other and it usually has both parents working. These changes in family structure affect not only the parents but also the children greatly. The society in which the children live in is much different from their parent's society. They face many more things at much younger ages than their parents did. This causes parents to have a difficult time understanding what their children are going through and relating to them. .
             Summary of Findings:.
             In the past century the typical family structure has changed dramatically. Divorce rates have shot up to fifty percent of all marriages fail, along with an increase in unmarried cohabitation, and out of wedlock births (Thornton 2001). Not only did these changes occur but the attitudes towards these life choices have changed as well. People are now more open and tolerant, different structures for families are not as stigmatized. The people who partake in these supposedly unorthodox relationships and actions within relationships are not as ostracized for not fitting the mold of the perfect "nuclear" family.

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