Changes In Family Structure Essay

1346 words - 5 pages

The typical family consists of a breadwinner father, homemaker mother, and children, all living in one home. This was my narrow view of family and my own family follows this model very closely, so it is indeed normal to me. Early sociologists called the family a social institution, emphasizing the rules and expectations that guided family interaction. They stated that the family consisted of at least two adults of the opposite sex, united by marriage, living together, pooling their resources, sharing intimacy, and producing and raising children. It's a well know fact that this definition of family only applies to some families while others live in similar or entire opposite situations. My ideas on family were shaped while I was growing by the social, economic and community situations in which I lived. After my enrollment in Families and Social Change I learned that what family meant to me was only one perspective, and a very close mined one at that. There are of course many families with parents and children, and this course has shown me this with broadening my definition of family considerably. Children are raised by many varieties of adults, single parents, grandparents, kin networks, homosexual couples, and others. After examination of the assigned course readings I found that these authors are the ones who have given me a wider sense of what family is and why my thoughts were simple and traditional. The following paragraphs will explain my change in thinking when discussing family accompanied by my new definitions and understandings of family, its structure and the responsibilities held by its members.

I explain that to me family is social unit of people that share the same culture, morals, values, norms and resources. I continued to explain that I grew up in a middle-class home with a stay at home mother and a working father, and felt as though this was the proper way of family living. Maureen Baker explains in her text that, "Before the 1980s, both the academic and policy portrayal of North American families resembled the nuclear family (with a male breadwinner and a female caregiver) rather than any other configuration." She goes on to explain, "Academics and policy-makers also normalized the experiences of young, white, middle-class families in which two heterosexual parents and their biological children shared a household without other relatives, and the parents maintained a gendered division of labour." While growing up my thoughts of family structure were standardized, just as Baker explains. Having a stay at home mother, a working father and living in a neighborhood where other families lived in similar situations, it never gave me the chance to observe families living in different situations. As I grew older, I realized that there...

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