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The Changing American Family

Posted on in Family Law

Lombard family law attorneysThe landscape of families in America is changing. The days of “Leave it to Beaver”-style nuclear families as the majority are largely behind us. Today, American families often include stepparents, stepsiblings, half-siblings, adopted children, single parents, or same-sex parents. Compared to previous generations, many more children are being raised by guardians or grandparents as well. 

A Look Inside the Numbers

A study from the University of Maryland’s Philip N. Cohen puts these changes into statistical perspective. For example, a household consisting of married parents in which the father worked outside of the home and the mother served as a homemaker accounted for 60 percent of families in 1960. Another 18 percent of families included married parents who both worked.

More current numbers look much different than those from 50-plus years ago. In 2012, only 22 percent of families included married parents with the father being the sole breadwinner.  The percentage of families with two married working parents rose to 34 percent. According to the study, the remaining 44 percent of families included single parents, parents who have never married, grandparents, and divorced parents. The married parents category also includes remarried individuals and stepparents. 

Nontraditional Is Now the Norm

Blended or so-called “nontraditional” family situations often create unique challenges for the individuals living in them. How can these redefined families remain healthy and happy?  According to celebrity author and former clinical psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, there are several steps that adults in these scenarios should take in order to create the most productive and loving household possible. McGraw explains that parents and guardians should approach a blended family experience with a plan for how children will be raised, how much authority each parent will have, and how much time each adult will be spending with the children. He also encourages families to plan for new financial trials which may arise. Parents should also make time to check on the emotional well-being of their children in order to help them navigate and settle into the new family situation.

Keep the Focus Where It Matters

McGraw also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a civil relationship with a former spouse or the child’s other biological parent. It is often tempting to shut out an estranged former partner – especially if the relationship ended on bad terms. However, when it comes to children, differences must be put aside.  He directs, “You and your former spouse have not ended your relationship; instead, you have changed it from an intimate, emotional affiliation to a relationship that’s held together by common goals for your children.” If these things can be remembered by all of the adults in a nontraditional family, those within it will certainly be better for their efforts.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you are thinking about creating a nontraditional family situation through remarriage, adoption, or legal guardianship, contact an experienced family law attorney in Lombard today. At A. Traub & Associates, we can help you meet your family’s needs and protect your rights along the way. Call 630-426-0196 to schedule a consultation at any of our three convenient locations.

 

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/28/step-family-blended-family_n_6058890.html

http://time.com/3265733/nuclear-family-typical-society-parents-children-households-philip-cohen/

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