The Changing American Family – from New York Times

The New York Times just published a special section of their Science Times entitled The Changing American Family. And in the category of disappointing but not surprising, nary a partnered childfree family is to be found.

Author Natalie Angier notes that the American family “has become as multilayered and full of surprises as a holiday turducken” yet apparently those many layers do not include partnered families without children. While the article does note the increase in single “families of one” and families that include “good friends” who are part of the “’’voluntary kin’ movement,” couples without kids appear to be the only category that don’t seem to count enough as “families” that they warrant inclusion in the 28-page piece.

At one point, the article does mention that our nation’s birthrate is at an all-time low but, oddly, it doesn’t consider how adults with partners but without kids form family. It also only mentions families of one in passing; none of the families featured in the piece are childfree nor are any of them childless.

Thus while the article charts the demographic changes in the family landscape across the U.S. quite thoroughly, the families interviewed for the piece do not represent the diverse trends described.

The Changing American Family

American households have never been more diverse, more surprising, more baffling. In this special issue of Science Times, NATALIE ANGIER takes stock of our changing definition of family.

The Schulte-Wayser family is both modern and traditional at the same time.David Walter Banks for The New York Times.

 

By                                NOVEMBER 25, 2013

CHELSEA, MICH. — Kristi and Michael Burns have a lot in common. They love crossword puzzles, football, going to museums and reading five or six books at a time. They describe themselves as mild-mannered introverts who suffer from an array of chronic medical problems. The two share similar marital résumés, too. On their wedding day in 2011, the groom was 43 years old and the bride 39, yet it was marriage No. 3 for both.

Today, their blended family is a sprawling, sometimes uneasy ensemble of two sharp-eyed sons from her two previous husbands, a daughter and son from his second marriage, ex-spouses of varying degrees of involvement, the partners of ex-spouses, the bemused in-laws and a kitten named Agnes that likes to sleep on computer keyboards.

Today, their blended family is a sprawling, sometimes uneasy ensemble of two sharp-eyed sons from her two previous husbands, a daughter and son from his second marriage, ex-spouses of varying degrees of involvement, the partners of ex-spouses, the bemused in-laws and a kitten named Agnes that likes to sleep on computer keyboards.

If the Burnses seem atypical as an American nuclear family, how about the Schulte-Waysers, a merry band of two married dads, six kids and two dogs? Or the Indrakrishnans, a successful immigrant couple in Atlanta whose teenage daughter divides her time between prosaic homework and the precision footwork of ancient Hindu dance; the Glusacs of Los Angeles, with their two nearly grown children and their litany of middle-class challenges that seem like minor sagas; Ana Perez and Julian Hill of Harlem, unmarried and just getting by, but with Warren Buffett-size dreams for their three young children; and the alarming number of families with incarcerated parents, a sorry byproduct of America’s status as the world’s leading jailer.

The typical American family, if it ever lived anywhere but on Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving canvas, has become as multilayered and full of surprises as a holiday turducken — the all-American seasonal portmanteau of deboned turkey, duck and chicken.

Researchers who study the structure and evolution of the American family express unsullied astonishment at how rapidly the family has changed in recent years, the transformations often exceeding or capsizing those same experts’ predictions of just a few journal articles ago.

Continue to the source article at New York Times

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