Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity

Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity

While children spend a great deal of time in your care, their family and family life continues to be the most influential factor. Educators must be prepared to recognize, respect, and positively support each and every child in their care. Families come in all shapes and sizes. The traditional nuclear family (mom, dad, kids) is no longer the norm. The families of the children in your care may have very different structures, values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors, and lifestyles you may not be familiar with.

For example, some children may live with a single parent, a relative, a blended family, or a traditional family who have different values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors and lifestyles from your own. It is important to be a culturally competent early childhood professional and create an environment that is supportive of each and every child and family. As our classrooms and society continues to diversify, you must consider the actual situations of the children and families. This week’s discussion will increase your awareness of several different family structures that could be present in your classroom. You will use your knowledge and experience to describe how to best support these families. To prepare for this week’s discussion, please read the Knoph & Swick (2008) article, as well as Chapter 2 in the Gestwicki course text, focusing specifically on the families described beginning on Page 23. Additionally, please use at least two sources to support your response.

For this discussion, you are to write a response from the perspective of either a teacher, early childhood administrator, or other early childhood professional of your choosing. Please write on one role that best aligns with your career interests and goals. After you have read through the descriptions of families in your textbook, choose one family to be the focus of your discussion. Be sure to explicitly state which family you are focusing on by writing the child’s name in the subject line of your discussion post. Taking respect for diversity and cultural competence in early childhood education into consideration, address the following discussion prompts:

Provide a summary of the family structure and identify the types of diversity within their family.

Analyze what makes their situation challenging and discuss how this impacts their family.

Develop five strategies to best support the child in your care, including how you will support the family. Also, please incorporate specific action steps within these strategies. Action steps are what you will actually do in your role to support the child and their family. For example, one suggestion might be, “As the caregiver of Joshua Stein (Gestwicki, 2013, p. 24), I could suggest, or encourage the family to….”

chapter 2

2-1. What Defines a Family?

The family is the most adaptable of human institutions and is able to modify its characteristics to meet those of the society in which it lives.Certainly, the family has adapted to much in recent decades: urbanization, a consumer-oriented economy, economic uncertainty, wars and terrorist attacks, changes in traditional religious and moral codes, increasing cultural diversity, and changes in all relationships basic to family life—including but not limited to those between male and female and young and old. Such changes have been occurring in every corner of the world, although our primary concern here is the American family.

Consider the families you might meet within any classroom or community: single-father families and single-mother families, with parents who may be widowed, divorced, or have never married; blended families from second marriages that bring together children from unrelated backgrounds; unmarried couples with children; gay and lesbian parents; adoptive families; grandparents functioning as parents in the absence of the intermediate generation; foster families; and families of mixed racial heritage—either biological or adoptive.

Such a wide range of families and relationships may make us feel uncomfortable in the distance from our values or ideals or comforted by the realization that our families are not the only ones that do not fit the perfect image of 1970s families in The Cosby Show seen on late-night cable reruns.

The word family has always meant many things to many people. What comes to mind when you think of the traditional family? Social historian Stephanie Coontz reminds us that this answer has changed depending on the era and its particular myths (2000). Despite the obvious fact that the phrase the American family does not describe one reality, it is used sweepingly. Many creators of television commercials seem to think it usually means a white, middle-class, monogamous father and mother at work, children busy with school and enrichment activities family—one that lives in a suburban one-family house, nicely filled with an array of appliances, a minivan or SUV in the driveway, and probably a dog in the yard. Such a description excludes the vast majority of American families, according to the last census(which does not enumerate dogs or minivans but found less than 7 percent of households conforming to the classic family headed by a working husband with a wife and two children at home). A recently made comment was that whereas most families used to have 2.6 children, many children now have 2.6 parents.

The entire Western world has experienced similar changes in family life during the past several decades.

Rather than suggest that the family is under siege, it is more accurate to suggest that our image of family may need to be broadened to accept diversity. It may be more important to concentrate on what families do rather than what they look like. Family may be more about content than about form (see Figure 2-1).

2-1a. “Ideal” Family Images

What image comes to mind when you see the word family? People’s mental images vary greatly, based in large part on their individual life experiences.

Try an experiment while you think about family. On a piece of paper, draw stick figures to represent the members of the family you first knew as a young child. Who represented family to you? Then, do the same to represent your family when you were a teenager. Had your family changed? Was anyone added or removed? What were the reasons for any changes?

Now draw the family in which you presently live. Who are your family members? What does this say about any changes in your life? If, as an adult, you have lived in numerous family structures, represent them, too.

Now, for one last picture. Imagine that you could design the ideal family for yourself. Draw what it would look like.

Sorting through your pictures may generate some thinking about family. One prediction is that most of the ideal pictures include a father,mother, and two children (probably a boy first and then a girl). If you are like most students who have done this, the ideal family usually includes these members—regardless of the actual composition of the families in which individuals have participated or presently live. Real experiences are often passed over in favor of the ideal two-parent, two-child home.

For many, the image of an ideal family is influenced less by real experiences than by subtle cultural messages that have bombarded us since childhood. The Vanier Institute reports that 86 percent of high school students surveyed, including 78 percent of the teens whose own parents had not stayed together, expect a lifelong marriage. From magazine advertisements to children’s books—and, even more pervasively, from television shows—the attractive vision of husband, wife, and children beams at us. These inescapable messages influence our thinking about desirable family characteristics, and may produce guilt and negative feelings when the reality does not match the ideal.

Interestingly, students surveyed are aware that their ideal image is just that and are also aware of the societal influences that helped produce it.

Family Images

Draw the family you lived in as a child.

Draw the family you lived in as a teenager.

Draw the family in which you presently live.

Draw the ideal family you would design for yourself.

Share your pictures with two classmates.

Considering all the pictures, what statements can you make about family and the influences that have created your sense of an ideal family?

But they may be less aware of how insidiously this subliminal image can influence their encounters with real families. If an ideal lurking unknowingly in a teacher’s value system is considered “right,” then a negative evaluation can be made of any family that does not measure up to this standard. The problem with assessing this one nuclear family A social unit composed of parents and children. model as “good” is that it may prevent us from considering alternative family structures as equally valid.

It is too easy for a teacher to feel more affinity and comfort with a family that approaches his or her ideal than with one that is clearly outside the teacher’s individual frame of reference.

2-1b. Samples of Diverse Family Structures

If personal images of family cannot convey a complex enough picture, perhaps brief descriptions of families you might meet and work with will help. In Chapter 1, you followed two fictitious families through a day. Here, we will meet them and others—as a sample of families any teacher may encounter—to consider the diversity in structure that corresponds to the differing values, customs,cultural influences, and lifestyles that appear in our world. Watch for these same families later in this book when we consider different relationships and techniques in teacher-parent communication.

If personal images of family cannot convey a complex enough picture, perhaps brief descriptions of families you might meet and work with will help. In Chapter 1, you followed two fictitious families through a day. Here, we will meet them and others—as a sample of families any teacher may encounter—to consider the diversity in structure that corresponds to the differing values, customs,cultural influences, and lifestyles that appear in our world. Watch for these same families later in this book when we consider different relationships and techniques in teacher-parent communication.artment store. Since then, her income has come from TANF Temporary Aid to Needy Families—the welfare reform legislation passed in 1996. (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) funds and food stamp payments as well as the subsidized housing. She is now beginning a job-training program, hoping to follow through with her plan to become a nurse’s assistant. Ricky has been home with Sylvia, but he will enter a child care program when his mother begins the job-training program.

You have also met Otis and Fannie Lawrence, each married before. Otis has two sons from his first marriage—14 and 10—who visit one weekend each month and for about six weeks each summer. Fannie’s seven-year-old daughter Kim and four-year-old son Pete see their father, who has moved out of state, only once or twice a year and have called Otis “Daddy” since their mother married him three years ago. Fannie is six months pregnant, and they have recently moved into an attractive new four-bedroom house, knowing even that will be too small when the boys visit. Fannie teaches third grade and will take a three-month maternity leave after the baby is born; she is on the waiting list at four centers for infant care. Otis sells new cars and is finishing up a business degree at night. Kim goes to an after school child care program that costs $115 a week. Pete is in a private child care center, operated by a national chain, that costs $175 a week. The Lawrence family income is $98,000 annually. The Lawrence family is African American.

Bob and Jane Weaver have been married five years. They married the day after Jane graduated from high school. Sandra, blonde and blue-eyed just like her parents, was born before their first anniversary. Bob and Jane live in an apartment down the street from Jane’s parents and around the block from her married sister. Jane has not worked outside the home much during their marriage. They are hoping to have another child next year. A second pregnancy ended in stillbirth last year. Bob earns $49,750 on the production line at a furniture factory. Jane started working part-time this year to help save for a down payment for a first home purchase. Her mother cares for Sandra while Jane works. Her income of $950 a month after taxes would not go far if she had to pay for child care. They are concerned that Bob’s hours could be decreased in the economic downturn.

Salvatore and Teresa Rodriguez have lived in this country for six years. Occasionally, one of their relatives comes to stay with them, but the rest of the family has stayed in Mexico. Right now, Sal’s 20-year-old brother Joseph is here taking an auto mechanics course; he plans to be married later this year and will probably stay in the same town. Teresa misses her mother, who has not seen their two children since they were babies. Sylvia is seven and has cerebral palsy; she attends a developmental kindergarten that has an excellent staff for the physiotherapy and speech therapy that she needs. Tony is four. Teresa works part-time in a bakery. Her husband works the second shift on the maintenance crew at the bus depot so he can be home with the children while she is at work. This is necessary because Sylvia needs so much extra care. They rent a six-room house, which they chose for the safe neighborhood and large garden.

Mary Howard is 16 and has always lived with her parents in a predominantly middle-class neighborhood of African American families. Her grandmother had a stroke and now lives with them, too. When Mary’s daughter, Cynthia, was born last year, her mother cared for the baby so Mary could finish the tenth grade. Cynthia is now in a church-operated child care center because Mary’s mother needed to return to work to cover increased family expenses. Mary still hopes she might someday marry Cynthia’s father, who is starting college this year. He comes to see her and the baby every week or so. Mary also wonders if she will go onto train in computer programming after she finishes high school, as she had planned, or if she should just get a job so she can help her mother more with Cynthia and with their expenses.

Susan Henderson celebrated her thirty-ninth birthday in the hospital the day after giving birth to Lucy. Her husband Ed is 40.After 13 years of marriage, they have found adding a child joyful and shocking. Lucy was very much a planned child. Susan felt established enough in her career as an architect to be able to work from her home for a year or so. Ed’s career as an investment counselor has also demanded a lot of his attention. Some of their friends are still wavering over the decision to begin a family. Ed and Susan are quite definite that this one child will be all they will have time for. Money is not the issue in their decision; their combined income last year was well over $350,000. Susan’s major complaint since being at home with the baby is that the condominium where they live has few families with children, and none of them are preschoolers. She has signed up for a Mother’s Morning Out program for infants one day a week and has a nanny who comes to their home each day so she can work.

Sam (age two) and Lisa (age four) Butler see their parents a lot—they just never see them together. Bill and Joan separated almost two years ago, and their divorce is about to become final. One of the provisions calls for joint physical custody of their two preschoolers. What this means right now is spending three nights one week with one parent and four with the other. The schedule gets complicated sometimes because Bill travels on business, but so far, the adults have been able to work it out. The children seem to enjoy going from Dad’s apartment to Mom and the house in which they have always lived, but on the days they carry their suitcases to the child care center for the midweek switch over, they need lots of reassurance about who is picking them up. Joan worries about how this arrangement will work as the children get older. Sam and Lisa attend a child development center run by the local community college. Joan is already concerned about finding good after school care for Lisa when she starts school in the fall, and she knows that it will further complicate her schedule when she has to make two pickup stops after work.She works as a secretary for the phone company and needs to take some computer courses this fall, but she does not know how she can fit them in and the kids, too—let alone find time to date a new man she has met.

James Parker and Sam Leeper adopted a one-year-old Korean boy, Stephen, four years ago. They have been together in a committed relationship for 10 years, although they do not live in a state that recognizes gay marriage or legal civil unions. They live a fairly quiet life and visit with Sam’s family, who lives in the same town, as well as a few friends, including another family they met at an adoptive parents’ support group. Many of their gay friends have also expressed the desire to adopt but are concerned about the prejudices sometimes directed toward gay fathers. Stephen attends prekindergarten in an early childhood program at a church in their neighborhood. Sam is an emergency room doctor at the local hospital. James sells insurance with a national company. When asked if they are worried about their son growing up without a relationship with a mother figure, James responds that Stephen has a grandmother and aunt with whom he is close and that they are more concerned about helping him come to know something of his native culture, as well as for him to be free of some of society’s myths regarding sexuality.

James Parker and Sam Leeper adopted a one-year-old Korean boy, Stephen, four years ago. They have been together in acommitted relationship for 10 years, although they do not live in a state that recognizes gay marriage or legal civil unions. Theylive a fairly quiet life and visit with Sam’s family, who lives in the same town, as well as a few friends, including another family theymet at an adoptive parents’ support group. Many of their gay friends have also expressed the desire to adopt but are concernedabout the prejudices sometimes directed toward gay fathers. Stephen attends prekindergarten in an early childhood program at achurch in their neighborhood. Sam is an emergency room doctor at the local hospital. James sells insurance with a nationalcompany. When asked if they are worried about their son growing up without a relationship with a mother figure, James responds that Stephen has a grandmother and aunt with whom he is close and that they are more concerned about helping him come to know something of his native culture, as well as for him to be free of some of society’s myths regarding sexuality.

xuality.

Nguyen Van Son has worked very hard since he came to this country with his uncle 12 years ago. After graduating from high school near the top of his class, he completed a mechanical drafting course at a technical college. He has a good job working for a manufacturing company. His wife Dang Van Binh, a longtime family friend, came from Vietnam only six years ago, and they were married soon after. Her English is still not good, so she takes evening classes. Their three-year-old son Nguyen Thi Hoang goes to a half-day preschool program because his father is eager for him to become comfortable speaking English with other children.Their baby daughter Le Thi Tuyet is at home with her mother. On weekends, the family spends time with other Vietnamese families, eager for companionship and preserving their memories of Vietnam. None of their neighbors talk much with this family,assuming they cannot speak English.

Richard Stein and Roberta Howell have lived together for 18 months. Richard’s six-year-old son Joshua lives with them. Roberta has decided she wants no children; she and Richard have no plans for marriage at this time. Roberta works long hours as a department store buyer. Richard writes for the local newspaper. On the one or two evenings a week that neither of them can getaway from work, Joshua is picked up from a neighborhood family child care home by a college student Richard met at the paper.Several times, this arrangement has fallen through and Joshua has had to stay late with his caregiver, who does not like this because she cares for Joshua and five other preschoolers from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.

Richard Stein and Roberta Howell have lived together for 18 months. Richard’s six-year-old son Joshua lives with them. Roberta has decided she wants no children; she and Richard have no plans for marriage at this time. Roberta works long hours as a department store buyer. Richard writes for the local newspaper. On the one or two evenings a week that neither of them can getaway from work, Joshua is picked up from a neighborhood family child care home by a college student Richard met at the paper.Several times, this arrangement has fallen through and Joshua has had to stay late with his caregiver, who does not like this because she cares for Joshua and five other preschoolers from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.

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he and his wife believe that one parent should be available as much as possible during children’s early years. He sometimes wonders if some of the digs he receives are because his wife, who is the main family breadwinner, is white and he is black, or whether it is just because others do not seem to understand th e reasoning they used to make their choices about roles inside and outside the home. Jana is happy and very successful in her work, providing for a comfortable lifestyle, although she misses being home with the family. When out of town, she tries to talk with the children on Skype every night.

In this sample, as in any other you might draw from a cross section in any school, the family some might call “traditional”—with a father who works to earn the living and a mother whose work is mostly rearing the children and caring for the home—is a distinct minority in the variety of structures; in fact, well over 60 percent of American children under age eighteen live in what used to be considered as unconventional families (Downer & Myers, 2010).

The last census indicated the diversity and continuing change in patterns of living situations. The proportion of children living with two married parents continues to steadily decrease, falling from 77 percent in 1980 to less than 25 percent in 2011 (Coontz, 2011). Among children younger than age 18 today, about one-quarter live only with their mothers, 5 percent live only with their fathers, and another 4 percent live with neither parent—often in the care of grandparents, other relatives, or foster care (Coontz, 2011).

Cultural Considerations icon Family diversity

As you read the descriptions of the various families, you may be focusing only on the most obvious cultural differences, as in families who have come from other countries or speak different languages. But when we define culture broadly to include the values, beliefs,and usual behaviors passed on to individuals by the segment of society around them, we realize that each of these families will have its unique culture, related to the specific environment that surrounds each one. Cultural beliefs are influenced by educational and socioeconomic experiences, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and individual community and family interpretations of societal norms.

To reflect on the reality of this awareness, think about answers to the following three questions and then discuss your answers with two classmates to discover how your unique family culture influences your own thinking:

What one food would you be astonished not to see on the table during a family celebration?

What is one thing you would expect only a mother to do? Only a father?

What is the correct way to fold a bath towel?

Each of us comes from a unique cultural background, no matter what our ethnic or language background.

The Vanier Institute defines family as any combination of two or more persons who are bound together over time by ties of mutual consent, birth, and/or adoption of placement and who, together, assume responsibilities for variant combinations of some of the following:

Physical maintenance and care of group members

Addition of new members through procreation or adoption

Socialization of children

Social control of members

Production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services

Affective nurturance—love

How do we define family? The Census Bureau definition of “two or more people related through blood, marriage, or adoption who share a common residence” seems too narrow to include all the dynamics of these sample families. Webster’s Eleventh New Collegiate Dictionary suggests a broader interpretation and no fewer than 22 definitions that seem more applicable when considering these sample families: “a group of people united by certain convictions or common characteristics” or “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.” Perhaps the most inclusive definition of a family is “a small group of intimate, transacting, and interdependent persons who share values, goals, resources, and other responsibilities for decisions; have a commitment to one another over time; and accept the responsibility of bringing up children.” Or simply, from the definition in a survey by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, “a group of people who love and care for each other.” The organization Family Support America says that “family is a group of people who take responsibility for each other’s well-being, and defining the family is up to the family itself.” What about the idea that family is “not only persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption, but also sets of interdependent but independent persons who share some common goals,resources, and a commitment to each other over time” (Hildebrand et al., 2007)? Mary Pipher (1996) adds these thoughts:

Family is a collection of people who pool resources and help each other over the long haul. Families love one another even when that requires sacrifice. Family means that if you disagree, you still stay together…. All members can belong regardless of merit. Everyone is included regardless of health, likability, or prestige…. Families come through when they must…. From my point of view, the issue isn’t biology. Rather the issues are commitment and inclusiveness.

Consider the Truth of This Statement

A family is like no other family, like some other families, and like all other families.

No matter how we define it, family is important to us (see Figure 2-2). Families may include more than just parents and children. Mary Howard’s family includes her parents, grandmother, and child, and the Rodriguezes have Uncle Joseph. The development of the nuclear family is more for affection and support than for the self-sufficient economic unit that the traditional extended family created. Families may include people not related by blood and hereditary bonds. The Parker-Leeper and Stein-Howell households include parents and children and others whose relationship is based on choice, not law. New relatives, like those acquired in a step family, such as the Lawrences, may beadded. Families may omit a generation, such as Justin Martin and his grandparents. In Justin’s case, as with increasing numbers of children—now about 4 percent (Child stats, 2013), he is being raised by grandparents in the absence of his own parents. Aunts, grandparents, and other family members as well as thousands of foster parents who are not related to children by blood are some of the adults who head modern families.

What Does Brain Research Tell Us about Poverty and Brain Development in Early Childhood? Brain Icon

With millions of American children spending their first years living in families with incomes below the poverty line, the concern arises for their greater risk of impaired brain development. This is due to the number of risk factors associated with poverty that can influence the brain through multiple pathways. During the sensitive early years, children’s brains are most vulnerable to deficits and negatives in their environments. These include the following: inadequate nutrition, both prenatally and in the early years; effects of nicotine, alcohol,and drugs; exposure to environmental toxins; trauma and abuse; maternal depression; and the quality of daily care. Any or all of these risk factors may have a direct impact on the neurological development within the brain, becoming evident later in delayed motor skill sand in much lower test scores related to vocabulary, reading comprehension, math, and general knowledge. America’s poor children are disproportionately exposed to these risk factors.

Consider how quality child-care experiences for America’s poor children can help mitigate some of these specific risk factors.

What is being done in your community to alleviate the effects of poverty on children’s development?

Learn more about the work of the Children’s Defense Fund by visiting their website.

Opportunity for Self-Reflection icon

Think about our case study families just described. Are there any families with whom you would be uncomfortable? What is causing this discomfort? How would you work with this family, given the discomfort? Which families seem closest to you in values? How do you define family?

Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity

Ackerman, K. By the Dawn’s Early Light. (Mom works the night shift)

Adoff, A. Black Is Brown Is Tan. (interracial family)

Aldrich, A. How My Family Came to Be—Daddy, Papa and Me. (adoption, biracial family, two dads)

Aylette, J. Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment, and Love. (photos and descriptions of all kinds of families)

Bauer, C. My Mom Travels a Lot. [self-explanatory]

Baum, L. One More Time. (child going between Mom’s house and Dad’s house)

Blain, M. The Terrible Thing That Happened at Our House. (Mom takes a job)

Blomquist, G., & Blomquist, F. Zachary’s New Home: A Story for Foster and Adopted Children. [self-explanatory]

Bosch, S. Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. (two fathers)

Boyd, L. Sam Is My Half-Brother. [self-explanatory]

Brisson, P. Mama Loves Me From Away. (mother in prison)

Brownstone, C. All Kinds of Mothers. (mothers who work in and out of the home)

Bunting, E. Can You Do This, Old Badger? (living with grandparent)

Bunting, E. Fly Away Home. (homeless child and father)

Cowen-Fletcher, J. Mama Zooms. (mother in a wheelchair)

Crews, D. Bigmama’s. (extended family)

Davol, M. Black, White, Just Right. (biracial family)
The post Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity

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What Does Brain Research Tell Us about Poverty and Brain Development in Early Childhood? Brain Icon

What Does Brain Research Tell Us about Poverty and Brain Development in Early Childhood? Brain Icon

While children spend a great deal of time in your care, their family and family life continues to be the most influential factor. Educators must be prepared to recognize, respect, and positively support each and every child in their care. Families come in all shapes and sizes. The traditional nuclear family (mom, dad, kids) is no longer the norm. The families of the children in your care may have very different structures, values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors, and lifestyles you may not be familiar with.

For example, some children may live with a single parent, a relative, a blended family, or a traditional family who have different values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors and lifestyles from your own. It is important to be a culturally competent early childhood professional and create an environment that is supportive of each and every child and family. As our classrooms and society continues to diversify, you must consider the actual situations of the children and families. This week’s discussion will increase your awareness of several different family structures that could be present in your classroom. You will use your knowledge and experience to describe how to best support these families. To prepare for this week’s discussion, please read the Knoph & Swick (2008) article, as well as Chapter 2 in the Gestwicki course text, focusing specifically on the families described beginning on Page 23. Additionally, please use at least two sources to support your response.

For this discussion, you are to write a response from the perspective of either a teacher, early childhood administrator, or other early childhood professional of your choosing. Please write on one role that best aligns with your career interests and goals. After you have read through the descriptions of families in your textbook, choose one family to be the focus of your discussion. Be sure to explicitly state which family you are focusing on by writing the child’s name in the subject line of your discussion post. Taking respect for diversity and cultural competence in early childhood education into consideration, address the following discussion prompts:

Provide a summary of the family structure and identify the types of diversity within their family.

Analyze what makes their situation challenging and discuss how this impacts their family.

Develop five strategies to best support the child in your care, including how you will support the family. Also, please incorporate specific action steps within these strategies. Action steps are what you will actually do in your role to support the child and their family. For example, one suggestion might be, “As the caregiver of Joshua Stein (Gestwicki, 2013, p. 24), I could suggest, or encourage the family to….”

chapter 2

2-1. What Defines a Family?

The family is the most adaptable of human institutions and is able to modify its characteristics to meet those of the society in which it lives.Certainly, the family has adapted to much in recent decades: urbanization, a consumer-oriented economy, economic uncertainty, wars and terrorist attacks, changes in traditional religious and moral codes, increasing cultural diversity, and changes in all relationships basic to family life—including but not limited to those between male and female and young and old. Such changes have been occurring in every corner of the world, although our primary concern here is the American family.

Consider the families you might meet within any classroom or community: single-father families and single-mother families, with parents who may be widowed, divorced, or have never married; blended families from second marriages that bring together children from unrelated backgrounds; unmarried couples with children; gay and lesbian parents; adoptive families; grandparents functioning as parents in the absence of the intermediate generation; foster families; and families of mixed racial heritage—either biological or adoptive.

Such a wide range of families and relationships may make us feel uncomfortable in the distance from our values or ideals or comforted by the realization that our families are not the only ones that do not fit the perfect image of 1970s families in The Cosby Show seen on late-night cable reruns.

The word family has always meant many things to many people. What comes to mind when you think of the traditional family? Social historian Stephanie Coontz reminds us that this answer has changed depending on the era and its particular myths (2000). Despite the obvious fact that the phrase the American family does not describe one reality, it is used sweepingly. Many creators of television commercials seem to think it usually means a white, middle-class, monogamous father and mother at work, children busy with school and enrichment activities family—one that lives in a suburban one-family house, nicely filled with an array of appliances, a minivan or SUV in the driveway, and probably a dog in the yard. Such a description excludes the vast majority of American families, according to the last census(which does not enumerate dogs or minivans but found less than 7 percent of households conforming to the classic family headed by a working husband with a wife and two children at home). A recently made comment was that whereas most families used to have 2.6 children, many children now have 2.6 parents.

The entire Western world has experienced similar changes in family life during the past several decades.

Rather than suggest that the family is under siege, it is more accurate to suggest that our image of family may need to be broadened to accept diversity. It may be more important to concentrate on what families do rather than what they look like. Family may be more about content than about form (see Figure 2-1).

2-1a. “Ideal” Family Images

What image comes to mind when you see the word family? People’s mental images vary greatly, based in large part on their individual life experiences.

Try an experiment while you think about family. On a piece of paper, draw stick figures to represent the members of the family you first knew as a young child. Who represented family to you? Then, do the same to represent your family when you were a teenager. Had your family changed? Was anyone added or removed? What were the reasons for any changes?

Now draw the family in which you presently live. Who are your family members? What does this say about any changes in your life? If, as an adult, you have lived in numerous family structures, represent them, too.

Now, for one last picture. Imagine that you could design the ideal family for yourself. Draw what it would look like.

Sorting through your pictures may generate some thinking about family. One prediction is that most of the ideal pictures include a father,mother, and two children (probably a boy first and then a girl). If you are like most students who have done this, the ideal family usually includes these members—regardless of the actual composition of the families in which individuals have participated or presently live. Real experiences are often passed over in favor of the ideal two-parent, two-child home.

For many, the image of an ideal family is influenced less by real experiences than by subtle cultural messages that have bombarded us since childhood. The Vanier Institute reports that 86 percent of high school students surveyed, including 78 percent of the teens whose own parents had not stayed together, expect a lifelong marriage. From magazine advertisements to children’s books—and, even more pervasively, from television shows—the attractive vision of husband, wife, and children beams at us. These inescapable messages influence our thinking about desirable family characteristics, and may produce guilt and negative feelings when the reality does not match the ideal.

Interestingly, students surveyed are aware that their ideal image is just that and are also aware of the societal influences that helped produce it.

Family Images

Draw the family you lived in as a child.

Draw the family you lived in as a teenager.

Draw the family in which you presently live.

Draw the ideal family you would design for yourself.

Share your pictures with two classmates.

Considering all the pictures, what statements can you make about family and the influences that have created your sense of an ideal family?

But they may be less aware of how insidiously this subliminal image can influence their encounters with real families. If an ideal lurking unknowingly in a teacher’s value system is considered “right,” then a negative evaluation can be made of any family that does not measure up to this standard. The problem with assessing this one nuclear family A social unit composed of parents and children. model as “good” is that it may prevent us from considering alternative family structures as equally valid.

It is too easy for a teacher to feel more affinity and comfort with a family that approaches his or her ideal than with one that is clearly outside the teacher’s individual frame of reference.

2-1b. Samples of Diverse Family Structures

If personal images of family cannot convey a complex enough picture, perhaps brief descriptions of families you might meet and work with will help. In Chapter 1, you followed two fictitious families through a day. Here, we will meet them and others—as a sample of families any teacher may encounter—to consider the diversity in structure that corresponds to the differing values, customs,cultural influences, and lifestyles that appear in our world. Watch for these same families later in this book when we consider different relationships and techniques in teacher-parent communication.

If personal images of family cannot convey a complex enough picture, perhaps brief descriptions of families you might meet and work with will help. In Chapter 1, you followed two fictitious families through a day. Here, we will meet them and others—as a sample of families any teacher may encounter—to consider the diversity in structure that corresponds to the differing values, customs,cultural influences, and lifestyles that appear in our world. Watch for these same families later in this book when we consider different relationships and techniques in teacher-parent communication.artment store. Since then, her income has come from TANF Temporary Aid to Needy Families—the welfare reform legislation passed in 1996. (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) funds and food stamp payments as well as the subsidized housing. She is now beginning a job-training program, hoping to follow through with her plan to become a nurse’s assistant. Ricky has been home with Sylvia, but he will enter a child care program when his mother begins the job-training program.

You have also met Otis and Fannie Lawrence, each married before. Otis has two sons from his first marriage—14 and 10—who visit one weekend each month and for about six weeks each summer. Fannie’s seven-year-old daughter Kim and four-year-old son Pete see their father, who has moved out of state, only once or twice a year and have called Otis “Daddy” since their mother married him three years ago. Fannie is six months pregnant, and they have recently moved into an attractive new four-bedroom house, knowing even that will be too small when the boys visit. Fannie teaches third grade and will take a three-month maternity leave after the baby is born; she is on the waiting list at four centers for infant care. Otis sells new cars and is finishing up a business degree at night. Kim goes to an after school child care program that costs $115 a week. Pete is in a private child care center, operated by a national chain, that costs $175 a week. The Lawrence family income is $98,000 annually. The Lawrence family is African American.

Bob and Jane Weaver have been married five years. They married the day after Jane graduated from high school. Sandra, blonde and blue-eyed just like her parents, was born before their first anniversary. Bob and Jane live in an apartment down the street from Jane’s parents and around the block from her married sister. Jane has not worked outside the home much during their marriage. They are hoping to have another child next year. A second pregnancy ended in stillbirth last year. Bob earns $49,750 on the production line at a furniture factory. Jane started working part-time this year to help save for a down payment for a first home purchase. Her mother cares for Sandra while Jane works. Her income of $950 a month after taxes would not go far if she had to pay for child care. They are concerned that Bob’s hours could be decreased in the economic downturn.

Salvatore and Teresa Rodriguez have lived in this country for six years. Occasionally, one of their relatives comes to stay with them, but the rest of the family has stayed in Mexico. Right now, Sal’s 20-year-old brother Joseph is here taking an auto mechanics course; he plans to be married later this year and will probably stay in the same town. Teresa misses her mother, who has not seen their two children since they were babies. Sylvia is seven and has cerebral palsy; she attends a developmental kindergarten that has an excellent staff for the physiotherapy and speech therapy that she needs. Tony is four. Teresa works part-time in a bakery. Her husband works the second shift on the maintenance crew at the bus depot so he can be home with the children while she is at work. This is necessary because Sylvia needs so much extra care. They rent a six-room house, which they chose for the safe neighborhood and large garden.

Mary Howard is 16 and has always lived with her parents in a predominantly middle-class neighborhood of African American families. Her grandmother had a stroke and now lives with them, too. When Mary’s daughter, Cynthia, was born last year, her mother cared for the baby so Mary could finish the tenth grade. Cynthia is now in a church-operated child care center because Mary’s mother needed to return to work to cover increased family expenses. Mary still hopes she might someday marry Cynthia’s father, who is starting college this year. He comes to see her and the baby every week or so. Mary also wonders if she will go onto train in computer programming after she finishes high school, as she had planned, or if she should just get a job so she can help her mother more with Cynthia and with their expenses.

Susan Henderson celebrated her thirty-ninth birthday in the hospital the day after giving birth to Lucy. Her husband Ed is 40.After 13 years of marriage, they have found adding a child joyful and shocking. Lucy was very much a planned child. Susan felt established enough in her career as an architect to be able to work from her home for a year or so. Ed’s career as an investment counselor has also demanded a lot of his attention. Some of their friends are still wavering over the decision to begin a family. Ed and Susan are quite definite that this one child will be all they will have time for. Money is not the issue in their decision; their combined income last year was well over $350,000. Susan’s major complaint since being at home with the baby is that the condominium where they live has few families with children, and none of them are preschoolers. She has signed up for a Mother’s Morning Out program for infants one day a week and has a nanny who comes to their home each day so she can work.

Sam (age two) and Lisa (age four) Butler see their parents a lot—they just never see them together. Bill and Joan separated almost two years ago, and their divorce is about to become final. One of the provisions calls for joint physical custody of their two preschoolers. What this means right now is spending three nights one week with one parent and four with the other. The schedule gets complicated sometimes because Bill travels on business, but so far, the adults have been able to work it out. The children seem to enjoy going from Dad’s apartment to Mom and the house in which they have always lived, but on the days they carry their suitcases to the child care center for the midweek switch over, they need lots of reassurance about who is picking them up. Joan worries about how this arrangement will work as the children get older. Sam and Lisa attend a child development center run by the local community college. Joan is already concerned about finding good after school care for Lisa when she starts school in the fall, and she knows that it will further complicate her schedule when she has to make two pickup stops after work.She works as a secretary for the phone company and needs to take some computer courses this fall, but she does not know how she can fit them in and the kids, too—let alone find time to date a new man she has met.

James Parker and Sam Leeper adopted a one-year-old Korean boy, Stephen, four years ago. They have been together in a committed relationship for 10 years, although they do not live in a state that recognizes gay marriage or legal civil unions. They live a fairly quiet life and visit with Sam’s family, who lives in the same town, as well as a few friends, including another family they met at an adoptive parents’ support group. Many of their gay friends have also expressed the desire to adopt but are concerned about the prejudices sometimes directed toward gay fathers. Stephen attends prekindergarten in an early childhood program at a church in their neighborhood. Sam is an emergency room doctor at the local hospital. James sells insurance with a national company. When asked if they are worried about their son growing up without a relationship with a mother figure, James responds that Stephen has a grandmother and aunt with whom he is close and that they are more concerned about helping him come to know something of his native culture, as well as for him to be free of some of society’s myths regarding sexuality.

James Parker and Sam Leeper adopted a one-year-old Korean boy, Stephen, four years ago. They have been together in acommitted relationship for 10 years, although they do not live in a state that recognizes gay marriage or legal civil unions. Theylive a fairly quiet life and visit with Sam’s family, who lives in the same town, as well as a few friends, including another family theymet at an adoptive parents’ support group. Many of their gay friends have also expressed the desire to adopt but are concernedabout the prejudices sometimes directed toward gay fathers. Stephen attends prekindergarten in an early childhood program at achurch in their neighborhood. Sam is an emergency room doctor at the local hospital. James sells insurance with a nationalcompany. When asked if they are worried about their son growing up without a relationship with a mother figure, James responds that Stephen has a grandmother and aunt with whom he is close and that they are more concerned about helping him come to know something of his native culture, as well as for him to be free of some of society’s myths regarding sexuality.

xuality.

Nguyen Van Son has worked very hard since he came to this country with his uncle 12 years ago. After graduating from high school near the top of his class, he completed a mechanical drafting course at a technical college. He has a good job working for a manufacturing company. His wife Dang Van Binh, a longtime family friend, came from Vietnam only six years ago, and they were married soon after. Her English is still not good, so she takes evening classes. Their three-year-old son Nguyen Thi Hoang goes to a half-day preschool program because his father is eager for him to become comfortable speaking English with other children.Their baby daughter Le Thi Tuyet is at home with her mother. On weekends, the family spends time with other Vietnamese families, eager for companionship and preserving their memories of Vietnam. None of their neighbors talk much with this family,assuming they cannot speak English.

Richard Stein and Roberta Howell have lived together for 18 months. Richard’s six-year-old son Joshua lives with them. Roberta has decided she wants no children; she and Richard have no plans for marriage at this time. Roberta works long hours as a department store buyer. Richard writes for the local newspaper. On the one or two evenings a week that neither of them can getaway from work, Joshua is picked up from a neighborhood family child care home by a college student Richard met at the paper.Several times, this arrangement has fallen through and Joshua has had to stay late with his caregiver, who does not like this because she cares for Joshua and five other preschoolers from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.

Richard Stein and Roberta Howell have lived together for 18 months. Richard’s six-year-old son Joshua lives with them. Roberta has decided she wants no children; she and Richard have no plans for marriage at this time. Roberta works long hours as a department store buyer. Richard writes for the local newspaper. On the one or two evenings a week that neither of them can getaway from work, Joshua is picked up from a neighborhood family child care home by a college student Richard met at the paper.Several times, this arrangement has fallen through and Joshua has had to stay late with his caregiver, who does not like this because she cares for Joshua and five other preschoolers from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.

ay.

he and his wife believe that one parent should be available as much as possible during children’s early years. He sometimes wonders if some of the digs he receives are because his wife, who is the main family breadwinner, is white and he is black, or whether it is just because others do not seem to understand th e reasoning they used to make their choices about roles inside and outside the home. Jana is happy and very successful in her work, providing for a comfortable lifestyle, although she misses being home with the family. When out of town, she tries to talk with the children on Skype every night.

In this sample, as in any other you might draw from a cross section in any school, the family some might call “traditional”—with a father who works to earn the living and a mother whose work is mostly rearing the children and caring for the home—is a distinct minority in the variety of structures; in fact, well over 60 percent of American children under age eighteen live in what used to be considered as unconventional families (Downer & Myers, 2010).

The last census indicated the diversity and continuing change in patterns of living situations. The proportion of children living with two married parents continues to steadily decrease, falling from 77 percent in 1980 to less than 25 percent in 2011 (Coontz, 2011). Among children younger than age 18 today, about one-quarter live only with their mothers, 5 percent live only with their fathers, and another 4 percent live with neither parent—often in the care of grandparents, other relatives, or foster care (Coontz, 2011).

Cultural Considerations icon Family diversity

As you read the descriptions of the various families, you may be focusing only on the most obvious cultural differences, as in families who have come from other countries or speak different languages. But when we define culture broadly to include the values, beliefs,and usual behaviors passed on to individuals by the segment of society around them, we realize that each of these families will have its unique culture, related to the specific environment that surrounds each one. Cultural beliefs are influenced by educational and socioeconomic experiences, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and individual community and family interpretations of societal norms.

To reflect on the reality of this awareness, think about answers to the following three questions and then discuss your answers with two classmates to discover how your unique family culture influences your own thinking:

What one food would you be astonished not to see on the table during a family celebration?

What is one thing you would expect only a mother to do? Only a father?

What is the correct way to fold a bath towel?

Each of us comes from a unique cultural background, no matter what our ethnic or language background.

The Vanier Institute defines family as any combination of two or more persons who are bound together over time by ties of mutual consent, birth, and/or adoption of placement and who, together, assume responsibilities for variant combinations of some of the following:

Physical maintenance and care of group members

Addition of new members through procreation or adoption

Socialization of children

Social control of members

Production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services

Affective nurturance—love

How do we define family? The Census Bureau definition of “two or more people related through blood, marriage, or adoption who share a common residence” seems too narrow to include all the dynamics of these sample families. Webster’s Eleventh New Collegiate Dictionary suggests a broader interpretation and no fewer than 22 definitions that seem more applicable when considering these sample families: “a group of people united by certain convictions or common characteristics” or “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.” Perhaps the most inclusive definition of a family is “a small group of intimate, transacting, and interdependent persons who share values, goals, resources, and other responsibilities for decisions; have a commitment to one another over time; and accept the responsibility of bringing up children.” Or simply, from the definition in a survey by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, “a group of people who love and care for each other.” The organization Family Support America says that “family is a group of people who take responsibility for each other’s well-being, and defining the family is up to the family itself.” What about the idea that family is “not only persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption, but also sets of interdependent but independent persons who share some common goals,resources, and a commitment to each other over time” (Hildebrand et al., 2007)? Mary Pipher (1996) adds these thoughts:

Family is a collection of people who pool resources and help each other over the long haul. Families love one another even when that requires sacrifice. Family means that if you disagree, you still stay together…. All members can belong regardless of merit. Everyone is included regardless of health, likability, or prestige…. Families come through when they must…. From my point of view, the issue isn’t biology. Rather the issues are commitment and inclusiveness.

Consider the Truth of This Statement

A family is like no other family, like some other families, and like all other families.

No matter how we define it, family is important to us (see Figure 2-2). Families may include more than just parents and children. Mary Howard’s family includes her parents, grandmother, and child, and the Rodriguezes have Uncle Joseph. The development of the nuclear family is more for affection and support than for the self-sufficient economic unit that the traditional extended family created. Families may include people not related by blood and hereditary bonds. The Parker-Leeper and Stein-Howell households include parents and children and others whose relationship is based on choice, not law. New relatives, like those acquired in a step family, such as the Lawrences, may beadded. Families may omit a generation, such as Justin Martin and his grandparents. In Justin’s case, as with increasing numbers of children—now about 4 percent (Child stats, 2013), he is being raised by grandparents in the absence of his own parents. Aunts, grandparents, and other family members as well as thousands of foster parents who are not related to children by blood are some of the adults who head modern families.

What Does Brain Research Tell Us about Poverty and Brain Development in Early Childhood? Brain Icon

With millions of American children spending their first years living in families with incomes below the poverty line, the concern arises for their greater risk of impaired brain development. This is due to the number of risk factors associated with poverty that can influence the brain through multiple pathways. During the sensitive early years, children’s brains are most vulnerable to deficits and negatives in their environments. These include the following: inadequate nutrition, both prenatally and in the early years; effects of nicotine, alcohol,and drugs; exposure to environmental toxins; trauma and abuse; maternal depression; and the quality of daily care. Any or all of these risk factors may have a direct impact on the neurological development within the brain, becoming evident later in delayed motor skill sand in much lower test scores related to vocabulary, reading comprehension, math, and general knowledge. America’s poor children are disproportionately exposed to these risk factors.

Consider how quality child-care experiences for America’s poor children can help mitigate some of these specific risk factors.

What is being done in your community to alleviate the effects of poverty on children’s development?

Learn more about the work of the Children’s Defense Fund by visiting their website.

Opportunity for Self-Reflection icon

Think about our case study families just described. Are there any families with whom you would be uncomfortable? What is causing this discomfort? How would you work with this family, given the discomfort? Which families seem closest to you in values? How do you define family?

Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity

Ackerman, K. By the Dawn’s Early Light. (Mom works the night shift)

Adoff, A. Black Is Brown Is Tan. (interracial family)

Aldrich, A. How My Family Came to Be—Daddy, Papa and Me. (adoption, biracial family, two dads)

Aylette, J. Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment, and Love. (photos and descriptions of all kinds of families)

Bauer, C. My Mom Travels a Lot. [self-explanatory]

Baum, L. One More Time. (child going between Mom’s house and Dad’s house)

Blain, M. The Terrible Thing That Happened at Our House. (Mom takes a job)

Blomquist, G., & Blomquist, F. Zachary’s New Home: A Story for Foster and Adopted Children. [self-explanatory]

Bosch, S. Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. (two fathers)

Boyd, L. Sam Is My Half-Brother. [self-explanatory]

Brisson, P. Mama Loves Me From Away. (mother in prison)

Brownstone, C. All Kinds of Mothers. (mothers who work in and out of the home)

Bunting, E. Can You Do This, Old Badger? (living with grandparent)

Bunting, E. Fly Away Home. (homeless child and father)

Cowen-Fletcher, J. Mama Zooms. (mother in a wheelchair)

Crews, D. Bigmama’s. (extended family)

Davol, M. Black, White, Just Right. (biracial family)

Downey, R. Love Is a Family. [self-explanatory]

Drescher, J. Your Family, My Family. (different shapes and sizes)

Eichler, M. Martin’s Father. (nurturing single father)

Eisenberg, P. You’re My Nikki. (new working mother)

Falwell, C. Feast for 10. (large family)

Galloway, P. Good Times, Bad Times—Mummy and Me. (working single mother)

Galloway, P. Jennifer Has Two Daddies. (child alternates weeks with her mom and stepdad and her father)

Garden, N. Molly’s Family. (two moms)

Gonzalez, R. Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio. (two moms; bilingual book)

Hayes, M., & Witherell, J. My Daddy Is in Prison. [self-explanatory]

Hickman, M. Robert Lives with His Grandparents. [self-explanatory]

Hines, A. Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti. (father cooking)

Jenness, A. Families. (family diversity)

Juster, N. The Hello, Goodbye Window. (grandparents)

Kroll, V. Wood-Hoopoe Willie. (African American family)

Kuklin, S. How My Family Lives in America. (real stories of different ethnic backgrounds)

Lasker, J. Mothers Can Do Anything. (many jobs mothers do)

Loewen, I. My Mom Is So Unusual. (contemporary American Indian)

Maslac, H. Finding a Job for Daddy. (unemployed father)

McPhail, D. The Teddy Bear. (homelessness)

Merriam, E. Mommies at Work. (mothers who work in and out of the home)

Moore, E. Grandma’s House. (spending the summer with an active, nontraditional grandmother)

Newman, L. Gloria Goes to Gay Pride. (child in gay family)

Parr, T. The Family Book. (different types of families, including two moms and two dads)

Pelligrini, N. Families Are Different. (family diversity)

Quinlan, P. My Dad Takes Care of Me. (unemployed father at home)

Richardson, J., & Parnell, P. And Tango Makes Three. (two dads)

Rotner, S., & Kelly, S. Lots of Moms. (the many appearances of American mothers, and what they do)

Schlein, M. The Way Mothers Are. (unconditional love)

Schwartz, A. Oma and Bobo. (mother, grandmother, and child)

Simon, N. All Families Are Special. (different types of families)

Simon, N. All Kinds of Families. (diverse family structures)

Skutch, R. Who’s in a Family? (multicultural contemporary families)

Soto, G. Too Many Tamales. (Mexican American family)

Spelman, C. After Charlotte’s Mom Died. (single father)

Stinson, K. Mom and Dad Don’t Live Together Any More. (divorce)

Tax, M. Families. (variety of families)

Valentine, J. One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads. (all kinds of dads)

Vigna, J. My Two Uncles. (child with uncle and his partner)

Wickens, E. Anna Day and the O-Ring. (two mothers)

Wild, M. Space Travelers. (homeless)

Willhoite, M. Daddy’s Roommate. (divorced parent, gay father)

Williams, V. A Chair for My Mother. (families; generations of urban working-class family)

Woodson, J. Visiting Day. (father in prison)

Families may consist of more people than those present in a household at any one time. The Butler joint custody arrangements and the“blended” Lawrence family are examples of separated family structures.

Families change. Their composition is dynamic, not static. It is assumed that Uncle Joseph will form his own household when he and his fiancée marry; Mary Howard hopes to marry and establish her own household. The Butler family may have additions when the parents remarry, as both say they would like to. The Weavers hope to have another baby. Change occurs as family members grow and develop.Family members are continually adjusting to shifts within the family dynamics that challenge earlier positions. It is important that teacher sand classrooms always convey an understanding that each family is unique. For ideas, refer to the “Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity” box. Families are complex systems, and such outside systems as schools, businesses and employers,neighborhoods, communities, religious organizations, subcultures, and society all influence the functioning of families. In recent years, all these systems have been undergoing turbulence and change. It is time to look at some of those changes (see Figure 2-3).

chapter 2 cont’d

2-2. Demographics of Modern Families

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2-2. Demographics of Modern Families

Is it harder or easier to be a parent today than it was a generation or two ago? There is no question that today’s families are functioningunder conditions different from those of their grandparents or even parents. Changes in family forms and functions are not necessarily bador worrisome—unless one insists on clinging to the past, maintaining the exclusive rightness of bygone ways. Almost all the changesdiscussed in this chapter have had both positive and negative impacts on today’s families.

Some recent trends in contemporary life influencing the nature of families include the following:

Marital instability and rising numbers of single parents

Changes in gender role behavior

Mobility, urbanization, and economic conditions

Decreasing family size

Increased rate of social change

Development of a child-centered society

Stress in modern living

Each of these will be discussed in this chapter.

2-2a. Marital Instability and Single Parents

Statistics tell us part of the story. The proportion of children living with two married parents fell from 77 percent in 1980 to 64 percent in2012, the last year for which we have government statistics (Childstats, 2013). Currently, it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of marriagesbegun today will end in divorce. Between 60 and 70 percent of second marriages will collapse. According to Census Bureau predictions, it islikely that at least half of all children born in this decade will spend a significant part of their childhood in single-parent homes. In theWestern world, fewer than two-thirds of parents who are legally married when their first child is born are still together when theiryoungest child graduates from high school.

Top 10 Trends in Modern Families

The Vanier Institute reports these trends:

Fewer couples are getting legally married.

More couples are breaking up.

Families are getting smaller.

Children experience more transitions as parents change their marital status.

Adults are generally satisfied with life.

Family violence is under reported.

Multiple-earner families are now the norm.

Women still do most of the juggling involved in balancing work and home.

Inequality is worsening.

The future will have more aging families (Sauve, 2004).

Between 1970 and 2012, the proportion of children growing up in single-parent families more than doubled to about 35 percent. The majority of these single-parent families are created by divorce. But divorced parents—70 to 80 percent—often remarry. One child in five lives in a step family or blended family. In many areas, children living with two biological parents are a distinct minority.

In addition, some of the single-parent families are the result of a rising birthrate among unmarried women (see Figure 2-4). Births to unmarried women continue to increase—now over 40 percent of all births each year (NCHS, 2013) compared with just over 3 percent of births in 1940. What is interesting is that the birthrate to teen aged mothers continues to drop, with the majority of unmarried mothers being in their 20s. Even so, in some hospitals in poor urban areas, well over half of the women giving birth are single teenagers (see Figure2-5).

Although there is no question that many single parents do a remarkable job of parenting, a single-parent family can face additional difficulties. A growing body of social and scientific data indicates that children in families disrupted by divorce and birth outside marriage often do worse than children in intact families in several respects. They are two to three times as likely as children in two-parent families to have emotional and behavioral problems and more likely to drop out of high school, get pregnant as teenagers, abuse drugs, and get in trouble with the law. They are also at much higher risk for physical or sexual abuse. But single-parent families are as diverse as any other.When all things are equal—when a single mother has a job that pays a decent wage, is basically contented with her life, and is not overly stressed—there are no major behavioral differences between children raised by single parents and those raised by two. But for purposes of considering demographics The statistical data of a human population. and families, here we note that family structure may be linked to children’s well-being. In the absence of one parent, families often have less social and human capital to draw upon.

Poverty

The term single parent does not fully convey the reality that mothers head most of these families. About one-quarter of all American children (50 percent of all black children) live only with their mothers; about 5 percent of all children live with their fathers alone, although this figure is an increase of 25 percent over the previous census—perhaps indicating changes in how custody is granted to parents and more social acceptance of single fathering (Child stats, 2013).

Poverty affects more than 22 percent of all children (Addy, et al., 2013) and makes the United States a shocking leader in the percentage of poor children in the world. In addition, poverty disproportionately affects children who live in mother-headed households.

Children younger than six who are living with single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than children who live in two-parent households. Children living with single fathers are two and a half times more likely to live below the poverty line. Of children being raised by grandparents, the Children’s Defense Fund reports that from 10 to 30 percent are living in poverty. Figure 2-6 indicates how poverty among children is divided by specific factors. Research indicates that three factors indicate particular risk for poverty:

Single parenthood

Low educational attainment

Part-time or no employment

Figure 2-6. America’s poor children are everywhere.

Who Are America’s Poor Children?Poor children are Over 20% of total of children Of all poor children: Living in single mother families 56.1%Living in single father families 8.6%Living in married couple families 35.3%White poor children 12.3 %Black poor children 37.9%Hispanic poor children 33.8%Asian poor children 13.8%American Indian 29%Living with grandparents 27%Living with neither parent 32%© Cengage Learning®

In the current economic climate, these factors may intertwine and make it very difficult for single-parent families to escape poverty.Surprisingly, nearly 70 percent of poor young children live in families in which a parent is employed.

Single-parent families created by divorce may precipitously plunge children into poverty. In the years following divorce, living standards for ex-wives and their children drop by an average of 30 percent, whereas those for the men involved rise 8 percent. Only half of all families with an absent parent have child support orders; of these families, only half receive the full amount ordered. About a quarter receive partial payment, and a quarter receive nothing. Despite successful efforts in some states to enforce such legal obligations, a majority of fathers’scheduled payments are still in arrears.

Child support accounts for only 15 percent of the total income of single-parent families. Financial stress is a major complaint of divorced women. Many single-parent families are not able to provide adequate support services they need, such as child care while a mother works,as well as recreation or other social relief for a parent.

Poverty in the United States is increasingly linked to family structure. This is the first decade in the nation’s history in which a majority of all poor families are headed by women—in what has been called the feminization of poverty. In female-headed families, the poverty rate is over 40 percent; in families headed by a parent younger than age 30, this rate is even higher. African American and Latino families are disproportionately represented among poor and single mother–headed households. Currently, one child in 50 is homeless, forced by economic disaster into sleeping with their families in shelters, motels, campgrounds, or cars. Children and families are the fastest-growing group among the homeless population—now representing about 40 percent of all homeless (Hubert, 2009).

TeachSource video activity Icon Video Activity

After viewing the video clip Hard Time Generation, reflect on these questions:

What are some of the challenges faced by homeless children and their families?

What are some of the challenges faced by the schools serving homeless children and families?

How does this information influence what you will do in your classroom?

Cuts in social spending have included drastic reductions in the food stamp program. Increasingly, government safety nets for poor families have been torn away. Families that are particularly affected by this are single-parent families, especially those headed by young parents.

Stress

A family that began with two parents and shifts to single-parent status will undoubtedly experience increased stress for some time—if not permanently.

Adjustments must be made by all family members when any of the following changed living patterns occur:

The loss of a relationship, regardless of how negative

A move and new job or school arrangements

Other changes necessitated by the constraints of a more limited budget

Less contact with one parent

Changed behaviors in both parents

We will talk more about this stress in Chapter 14. Although custody arrangements now often include joint physical custody for both parent sand more divorcing fathers are granted custody than previously, the majority of single-parent families created by divorce are headed by women. A mother in a single-parent family is under the additional strain of adding the father role to her parental responsibilities. Not only do many divorcing fathers abandon their children financially, but they also do so emotionally; half of all divorced fathers do not see their children. The mother may easily overload herself while trying to compensate for her concern induced by social attitudes that a single-parent family is a pathological family. The mixed data in this area are scarcely reassuring, and real or feared changes in children’s behavior can add appreciably to a parent’s burden at this time. Social attitudes toward divorce may have undergone a shift toward acceptance, but attitudes toward what some have unfortunately called a “broken family” still leave many single parents with an additional burden of guilt.

If a single-parent family is merged to create a new blended family, additional stress may be created. A new family may begin with financial problems created when the income must support more than one family and with emotional burdens created by the multiplicity of possible new relationships as well as the striving to create an “instant” family, warm and close, to make up for the earlier pain and banish the “ugly stepparent” fears. Unfortunately, these burdens may be too heavy: Up to 60 percent of blended family marriages end in divorce within four years. This means that many children may experience divorce, remarriage, and all the attendant stresses two or three times before they become adults.

Never-wed single-parent families may also face stress in the form of a possible lack of cultural, social, or economic support for the family,but teachers do well to remember that every situation is unique.

2-2b. Changes in Role Behavior

In the reruns of television series from the 1960s, Beaver Cleaver’s mom was home baking cookies, and Aunt Bea raised Opie while Andy worked to support the family. Today, however, most moms—in both television sitcoms and real life—are working outside their homes (see Figure 2-7).

Current census figures indicate that the majority of women in the workforce are mothers of children living at home. To put this in perspective, in 1900 only one wife in 20 was in the labor force, by 1950, the ratio was one out of five, and now it is more than three out of five, with more than 40 percent of women being the main or sole breadwinner in the family. But labor statistics show that more mothers are now staying home when they have a choice. According to the last census, the number of working mothers has declined for the first time since 1976, declining 4 percent for mothers of preschool children and 6 percent for mothers of infants, including mothers at all education levels. Demographers note that many mothers who are members of so-called Generation X—now in their 20s and 30s—are looking for a sense of realistic balance, wanting to be good workers and good mothers (Howe, Strauss, & Matson, 2000). Howe sees these mothers at the cutting edge of a generation that is “very protective of family life.” On the other hand, the Center for Work Life Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law pointed out that “workplace inflexibility, the lack of family supports and workplace bias” may be forcing American mothers out of the workforce—whether they can really afford to “opt out” or not (Warner, 2006). And with the most recent economic downturn, many mothers and fathers have lost work—without any choice at all.

Women’s Roles

Statistics alone cannot describe all that has occurred since the 1960s with the redefinition of women’s roles. Since the publication of The Feminine Mystique (Friedan, 1963), women the world over have urged each other to find equality in their relationships with men and in their places in the community and at work. This has not been an easy change for anyone involved. For women, it has meant adding new roles while often retaining much of the responsibility for household maintenance and child rearing. If a woman tries to combine all the roles she saw her mother play at home with her new work roles, she is in danger of falling into the “Superwoman” syndrome, with exhaustion and stress spilling over into all aspects of her life. Four out of every 10 women “often” or “very often” report feeling “used up” at the end of the workday. Working mothers are more likely to get sick than their husbands. Although women have cut back their household work from about 30 hours a week two decades ago to 18 hours a week today, their working husbands have not made up the difference,increasing their household work only from 5 hours to 10 hours, according to a recent report on American time use (BLS, 2013).

Today, women work so they can contribute to the necessities for their families, as well as the items considered important for a rising family living standard. Recent statistics have found that an increasing number of married women are now the primary breadwinners in the family (Rampell, 2013). But it is more than a dollars-and-cents issue. Many women would not give up the satisfaction of work even if money were not an issue. Mothers working outside the home are likely here to stay. But this creates complexity in blending real and mythical issues about social roles.

Work is not the only aspect of women’s lives to be reconsidered. The language of the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s spoke of women as one of society’s minorities, without equality at home or outside the home. Issues of sexuality and reproduction and of sex role stereotypes and limitations were discussed nationwide. Some real changes were effected, and awareness was raised. The increase in marital instability may be partly attributable to this questioning of traditional relationships, and the women’s movement may have been a major and permanent influence on the nature of families and society. Whether or not women and men agree with the push toward equality, it is virtually impossible for anyone in the country to remain untouched by the debate and its repercussions on lifestyles. But change comes through turmoil, and this environment of changing relationships and role behaviors has pushed women and men in the family into less comfortable territory.

Men’s Roles

Men’s family roles are on similarly challenging new ground. Not only are they asked to share positions and power in the workplace with women, but also at home, more is expected of them than was expected of their fathers. They may still not be carrying their equal share of household chores, but the days of hiding guilt-free behind the newspaper until dinner is on the table are gone. Gone also are the models of paternal behavior they knew as children. But after all, this is what happened to their fathers before them. As fathers received more leisure time due to changing work patterns and as the expert advice to parents continued to change from stern rigidity to concern with children feeling loved and happy, fathers became people with whom their children could have fun.

Today’s father plays with his child, but he also takes his turn sitting in the pediatrician’s office, cooking dinner, supervising homework, and carpooling. Frequently, he is involved before his child’s birth—attending childbirth classes with his wife to learn how to coach her through prepared childbirth (see Figure 2-8). But is this involvement as pervasive as some articles in women’s magazines portray?

The answer appears to be increasingly yes in families where mothers are “work committed”—that is, who work full time and share financial decisions. In these families, men are beginning to shrink the labor gap in the household and are becoming more involved with their children. One report says that men are now the primary caregivers in one out of every five dual-earner households with preschool children(Halle, 2002). This suggests that many more men have significant child care responsibilities than is usually thought.

Certainly, the pressure for men to become more involved with household and child care responsibilities has come from women, especially those with growing economic power. But fathers themselves are frequently looking for a new lifestyle—one that allows them to be more involved with their families. Trying to find a balance between job and family responsibilities creates new stress for some fathers today.

Although increased participation is occurring in many households, the primary responsibility for house and child care remains the mother’s—perhaps due to the constraints of role behavior norms for men and women and the signals sent by society that moms are the parents who really count, while dads are in minor roles. One writer (Helms, 2000) offers the example of a school secretary trying to get in touch with the mother of a sick child. When asked by a coworker whether she had already called the father, she said she did not like to interrupt him. The implication is that Mom’s work is more easily interruptible and anyway it is really her job to care for a sick child (an additional source of stress for working mothers) but also that Dad is either less caring or less capable of handling the emergency rather than equally competent and caring as Mom. Such implicit messages weaken men’s attempts to be fully involved parents.

Certainly, there are not a lot of models of highly participant fathers, and the few fathers who do participate equally as parents receive little recognition and support—at least in their perceptions. Many men who try to take time off to attend a teacher conference or school play get the impression that the boss and coworkers see them as slackers and expect the mothers—working or not—to handle such matters.

Some research projects also show that men who attempt to take on more family responsibilities get increased negative feedback from grandparents and even from wives. The legacy of the model of male as breadwinner and female as caregiver may create stress for men trying to find new roles. But it is probably fair to say that today’s father is often called on to share with his wife all aspects of the children’scare and to display many of the nurturing behaviors previously associated only with mothers (see Figure 2-9).

Indeed, one phenomenon that occurs in many communities is fathers becoming stay-at-home parents while their wives work outside the home. These fathers assume the full responsibility for the household and care of children that was previously thought to be the woman’s role. To define what it means to be a man, major shifts in thinking are required. However men feel about it—and most fathers are pleased with their new roles—the change in women’s roles in contemporary society has changed their own. Chapter 3 will look more at recent research on the absolute importance of fathers’ involvement with their children’s lives.

Indeed, one phenomenon that occurs in many communities is fathers becoming stay-at-home parents while their wives work outside the home. These fathers assume the full responsibility for the household and care of children that was previously thought to be the woman’srole. To define what it means to be a man, major shifts in thinking are required. However men feel about it—and most fathers are pleased with their new roles—the change in women’s roles in contemporary society has changed their own. Chapter 3 will look more at recentresearch on the absolute importance of fathers’ involvement with their children’s lives.s.

Slowly, society has been pushed to alter its expectations regarding the roles of family members, and individuals are caught between trying to balance the external realities and demands and the internal psychological conflict caused by attempting a new social pattern. The jury is still out on what impact the different patterns of family roles and parenting have on family members. Certainly, there are more opportunities for personal growth, with alternatives from which to choose freely. Children have a more inclusive family model as an increasing number of fathers take on the loving and nurturing aspects of parenthood and an increasing number of mothers take on leadership roles outside as well as inside the home. Changes in roles have opened doors for everyone—men and women alike.

2-2c. Mobility, Urbanization, and Economic Conditions

With changing economic and employment patterns, many workers and their families move frequently in the search for new and better jobs.The average American moves more than 11 times in a lifetime, according to Census Bureau estimates. And in contemporary America, far more families live in urban than rural settings.

What does this mean to present-day families? When earlier families worked together on economic production in the home and on the family farm, parents were much more available to their children. The shift to urban occupations enabled many families to improve their economic status. Recent changes in the structuring of business and industry have made family job security more fragile, and families have had to move where jobs dictate. This increased geographical mobility has brought less sense of community and more isolation. It probably

means that the nuclear family—the parents and their children—are far removed from the physical presence of others who may have actedas sources of support in earlier times. With the increasing number of immigrants—legal and illegal—even more numbers of families are living far from family supports.

A mother coming home from the hospital with her new baby may know little about how to care physically for the infant, let alone how to deal with the anxiety that arises about 3 a.m. Her only support is her husband, who may be as ignorant and anxious as she is. In a by gone day, her mother, mother-in-law, aunts, cousins, sisters, and neighbors who had known her since she was a baby may have surrounded her.

What does this mean to present-day families? When earlier families worked together on economic production in the home and on the family farm, parents were much more available to their children. The shift to urban occupations enabled many families to improve their economic status. Recent changes in the structuring of business and industry have made family job security more fragile, and families have had to move where jobs dictate. This increased geographical mobility has brought less sense of community and more isolation. It probably means that the nuclear family—the parents and their children—are far removed from the physical presence of others who may have act edas sources of support in earlier times. With the increasing number of immigrants—legal and illegal—even more numbers of families are living far from family supports.

The isolation caused by moving far from traditional sources of support causes stress for today’s parents. Parents are totally responsible for everything, creating an ambivalent situation in their home and family. In one sense, the nuclear family so created has a special sense of solidarity that separates this unit from the surrounding community; its members feel more in common with one another than with anyone outside the family. Although this may produce some warm feelings of closeness, cold feelings of isolation and anxiety may also be present(see Figure 2-10).

The isolation caused by moving far from traditional sources of support causes stress for today’s parents. Parents are totally responsible for everything, creating an ambivalent situation in their home and family. In one sense, the nuclear family so created has a special sense ofsolidarity that separates this unit from the surrounding community; its members feel more in common with one another than with anyone outside the family. Although this may produce some warm feelings of closeness, cold feelings of isolation and anxiety may also be present(see Figure 2-10).

Rearing children in an urban setting offers its own problems for parents in addition to isolation. Although the diversity of cultural, religious,and racial backgrounds offers richness and variety in today’s world, it can also be a potential source of conflict as children are exposed to such a pluralistic society. And cities continue to offer the main environment for child rearing. Cities grew nearly twice as fast as other communities in the past decade, with that growth bringing problems of pollution, crime, and stress for families. Lest this be misinterpreted as a condemnation of cities, it should be recalled that our cities have become the major repositories for current culture and knowledge.

The current economic climate has brought enormous stress to contemporary families. Unemployment and underemployment have become common problems in families from all social and economic classes. The resultant financial and emotional problems have increased stress for parents and children and often created other reasons for mobility and isolation.

Do Strong Families Have in Common?

Characteristics of strong families:

Caring and appreciation

Time together

Encouragement

Commitment

Communication

Ability to cope with change

Spirituality

Community and family ties

Clear roles

From Jamieson and Wallace, 2010.

2-2d. Family Size Decreasing

According to the Census Bureau, a family household is two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Current statistics indicate the average family has shrunk over the years, from 4.76 people in 1900 to just 2.58 currently—in both Canada and the United States—with black, Hispanic, and Asian family sizes being about 3.5. (Figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s current population report sand the Vanier Institute.) This decrease is due to fewer children younger than age 18 in each household—from about 2 in 1970 to a current average of about 1.5. There are numerous reasons for this.

A major reason is delayed marriage and childbearing, with increased standards of education and career expectations. As recently as 1975,63 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married; by the 2010 census, this figure had shrunk dramatically to about aquarter. Currently, the median age for American men marrying is 28.7 years, and for women, it is 26.5 (Cohn et al., 2011).

Besides the need for prolonged education and career expectations, reasons for decreasing family size include the following:

According to the Census Bureau, a family household is two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Current statistics indicate the average family has shrunk over the years, from 4.76 people in 1900 to just 2.58 currently—in both Canada and the United States—with black, Hispanic, and Asian family sizes being about 3.5. (Figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s current population report sand the Vanier Institute.) This decrease is due to fewer children younger than age 18 in each household—from about 2 in 1970 to a current average of about 1.5. There are numerous reasons for this.

Changing attitudes about women’s roles in the home and workplace

Increased expectations for the family living standards and material wants

Changing views about marriage and cohabitation

The move from rural to urban environments

Current views about parent–child relationships

There are also more single-child families (see Figure 2-11). In practical terms, this means that it is possible to become a parent without ever having touched a small baby or having had any share of responsibility for caring for younger brothers and sisters, leaving today’s parents anxious and confused in their new roles. The earlier form of a larger family offered its members more experience as they grew up with other children.

Another factor contributing to the decrease in family size is the increasing absence of adults other than parents living in the home. In the 1920s, more than 50 percent of American households had at least one other adult living in the home—grandparents, aunts, or uncles. It was common for young families to begin married life living with their own parents. Before the most recent economic downturn, only about 3 to 4 percent of homes had multi generations or extended family; this figure has increased recently as foreclosures and other economic hardship have forced changes in living arrangements. If families include grandparents today, they are likely to be single-parent families that have moved into the grandparents’ home for economic and social support—clearly a role reversal of the old pattern of living with extended family, when younger families were helping maintain the older generation. More than half of young men between ages 18 and 25 were living in their parents’ homes in the last census. This may well reflect the delaying of marriage and tight economic times.

Or grandparents may have included their grandchildren in their families but the children’s parents are not present, as is the case for more than 6 percent of American children.

The Census Bureau notes the phenomenon of a marked increase in the number of people living alone—people older than 55 and people in their 20s. In the past, these people would have been members of an extended family household. This implies that the smaller nuclear family is without the additional supportive resources of time, money, and companionship that other adults in the household could offer.

It is somewhat difficult to get an accurate reading on family composition today. When reading the results of the latest census, we can see that families and their composition are far too complex for simple classification or counting. For example, families that are counted as being headed by a single father often include a female adult who is likely functioning in many ways as the other parent. And of those classified as unmarried cohabiting partners, two-fifths are also likely to include children.

Again, the most important aspect of considering demographics is to realize how much change families are undergoing, and often without additional supports for stressed parents.

2-2e. Increased Rate of Social Change

Parents in a relatively static society encounter less difficulty than those in a society where social change occurs rapidly and drastically, as in our country for the past four decades and more. A generation gap develops when adults play increasingly complex roles in a world for which their own parents could not prepare them, and when parents try to help their own children face a world they cannot yet imagine. It is not a comfortable world where parents can simply produce children like themselves but a new world where parents are unsure about their best actions and decisions—a world of challenge and potential, but also of stress, for today’s fathers and mothers.

Parents in a relatively static society encounter less difficulty than those in a society where social change occurs rapidly and drastically, as in our country for the past four decades and more. A generation gap develops when adults play increasingly complex roles in a world for which their own parents could not prepare them, and when parents try to help their own children face a world they cannot yet imagine. It is not a comfortable world where parents can simply produce children like themselves but a new world where parents are unsure about their best actions and decisions—a world of challenge and potential, but also of stress, for today’s fathers and mothers.

The rate of change is dizzying as upheaval occurs in every major institution in society. Major discontinuities in relationships among people develop as changing values, laws, and norms of behavior result in a different way of life.

Beginning with the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the Vietnam War (and the turmoil from groups opposing andsupporting it), society has continued to be beleaguered by anxieties:

Disillusionment with government leaders with questionable practices or moral beliefs

Worry about the educational system

Turmoil in the world overseas and at home

Fears of terrorist attacks at home as well as abroad

Worry about keeping children safe at school and in the community

Concerns about environmental deterioration

Fears about drugs invading our lives

Concerns about diseases without cures becoming epidemic

Worry about what inflation, debt, and pollution mean to the future

Beginning with the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the Vietnam War (and the turmoil from groups opposing and supporting it), society has continued to be beleaguered by anxieties: sexual activity, contraception, abortion—all are different now. There are new lifespan events, created by the need to respond to increased longevity and the psycho social identity adjustments within ever more complex family arrangements. Just imagine the mental adjustments that have to be made by a grandparent raising his or her own grandchild in the absence of parents (see Figure 2-12).

Playing the dual roles of parent and grandparent is something for which there is no model; perhaps this promotes role conflict and additional family stress.

All this change makes parents unsure of themselves, and they worry about almost everything that touches their lives and their children’s.They worry about whether they are too permissive or expecting too much in a changing world; they worry about the influence of television,video games, and violence and the quality of education; most of all, they worry because they are making decisions alone—they are reluctantto seek advice from others.

All this change makes parents unsure of themselves, and they worry about almost everything that touches their lives and their children’s.They worry about whether they are too permissive or expecting too much in a changing world; they worry about the influence of television,video games, and violence and the quality of education; most of all, they worry because they are making decisions alone—they are reluctant to seek advice from others.he idea that “women should return to their traditional roles in society,” and 64 percent also rejected the idea that “it’s more important for a wife to help her husband’s career than to have one herself.” Clearly, change has happened too quickly for some of our values and beliefs to catch up. Families are caught in the dilemma of rapid change in very real ways. Most jobs are still designed as if there were a homemaker to provide support for a working husband, and many institutional practices assume that all children live with two biological parents. Social structure has changed rapidly; changes in social and personal values and feelings lag behind.

2-2f. Child-Centered Society

More than one expert has pointed out how the child’s role in the family and in society has evolved over the centuries, particularly in current times in the Western world. In earlier times, a child was measured harshly by the yardstick of the adult world and restricted to fit into it.

But in modern America, a child is the darling of his or her world (see Figure 2-13). Whole industries have sprung up to cater to children’swishes—toys, children’s television, designer clothing, and breakfast cereals. The efforts of psychologists and other researchers are directed more toward telling parents what they should and should not be doing to nurture their children. A large part of current research and thinking concerning child development is now available in forms popular and technical. Bookstores have many shelves of books of advice to parents—often suggesting conflicting views of a variety of experts (Hull, 2003). Parenting magazines, blogs, and websites abound.

Parent education classes are available in almost every community. Anyone who has taught a parent education class has heard two frequent reactions from the parents involved. One is to marvel that parents in earlier times did an acceptable job of parenting without possessing this knowledge: “My mother raised five kids, and we all turned out pretty well, and she never even heard of Erikson or Piaget!” The other reaction is from the parent who concentrates, with guilt, on what he or she has already done or missed the chance to do. “If only I’d known this five years ago.” Whether parents decide on their own that they could have done a better job or whether the society around them does,the result is that parents come out as the “bad guys” in a culture that centers on the child.

Many educators have noted the increasing tendency of parents today to center their attention solely on their children, doing everything in their power to protect and control their children’s lives toward guaranteed success. So-called “helicopter parents” may have taken the child-centered society to an extreme that may not be healthy for optimum child development.

It should also be noted, ironically, that alarming figures suggest our rhetoric may be more child centered than our practices. Children’s Defense Fund (2012) notes that the United States—first among industrialized countries in gross domestic product, the number of millionaires and billionaires, health and military technology, and military exports and defense spending—is twenty-second in rates of low birth weight, twenty-ninth in infant mortality, and last in the relative number of children in poverty and in protecting our children against gun violence. These facts make us question the genuineness of our so-called child-centered society.

2-2g. Stress in Modern Living

A generation ago, it seemed that shorter workweeks due to modern technology would make life easier for many families. Unfortunately, that dream was never realized. Today, adults are working harder than ever. According to a recent study, the average workweek jumped from under 41 hours in 1973 to nearly 47 hours today, with many professional and higher-level jobs demanding 50 or more hours each week. A Wall Street Journal study found that almost all top executives were working 10 or more hours a day and that nearly one in five was working 12 or more hours. As parents feel overloaded at work, their emotional well-being suffers (Galinsky et al., 2001; Brownfield, 2001). It is no wonder that there seems to be so much stress on the family and individuals when the adults are spending so much time competing to keep their jobs in a time of employment insecurity. Much of this stress is related to economic changes: declines in real wages, demands for amore highly skilled and educated workforce, increasing technology creating competition for jobs, and an increased cost of raising children.Parents may not have real choices about the time spent in work and apart from family.

Obviously, the fallout affects adults and children under such conditions. It creates a parental time deficit when parents spend more timeearning a living, and the resulting overload and exhaustion mean they do not do not have time to parent their children (see Figure 2-14).

The UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families has spent the past four years observing families to examine the intersection between family life and work. Finding that parents and children live apart at least five days a week—reuniting only for a few hours at night—there searchers suggest that the nonstop pace seems to erode families from within, resulting in playtime, conversation, and intimacy falling by the wayside. Most families have no unstructured time (News-Press, 2005). In her study of how children perceive their parents’ negotiation of work and family life, Galinsky (1999) found that the quantity of time mothers and fathers have with children matters a great deal. When children spend more time with their parents on workdays and non workdays, they see their parents as putting their family first.Nevertheless, many children mention that the time they spend with their parents feels rushed and hectic, and they comment on the lack of focus from many parents, indicating that families today need to find ways of getting out from under the stress to make changes that will benefit all.

In fact, in recent years, modern parents are not only increasing their time at the workplace but also have greater demands on their nonworking time. There is increased pressure from society for individuals to fulfill self-centered goals. Finding and fulfilling oneself are acceptable and necessary activities that demand time. The highly organized community offers more choices and demands more participation from adults and children. Someone recently commented that most modern children are being brought up by appliances and in moving vehicles; this does seem an apt image for the on-the-go style of modern families. Those who point out the extremely busy life of the suburban child, moving from swimming lessons to Boy Scouts to doctors’ appointments to play dates organized with friends, fail to also mention that behind this busy child are parents who make all the arrangements and drive the child around! A parent who works full time at a job has only begun to fill the expected responsibilities at the end of the working day.

For many families in lower socioeconomic circumstances, stress may be caused not by fulfilling responsibilities to children’s social lives but by carrying a heavy workload to provide necessities of daily life for their children. Often, parents are working more than one job, working odd shifts, and keeping appointments with community agencies for needed support, so they have little time for either their children or themselves. Such a schedule brings burdens to all.

For many families in lower socioeconomic circumstances, stress may be caused not by fulfilling responsibilities to children’s social lives but by carrying a heavy workload to provide necessities of daily life for their children. Often, parents are working more than one job, working odd shifts, and keeping appointments with community agencies for needed support, so they have little time for either their children or themselves. Such a schedule brings burdens to all.

The real stress in all this is that parenting, when done properly, takes much more time and energy than almost anything else. “Children can’t thrive if their families are stressed and, at every point on the socioeconomic spectrum now, it seems that American families are cracking at the seams” (Warner, 2006). As long as modern parents are pulled in so many directions, stre
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Develop five strategies to best support the child in the care,

Develop five strategies to best support the child in the care,

While children spend a great deal of time in your care, their family and family life continues to be the most influential factor. Educators must be prepared to recognize, respect, and positively support each and every child in their care. Families come in all shapes and sizes. The traditional nuclear family (mom, dad, kids) is no longer the norm. The families of the children in your care may have very different structures, values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors, and lifestyles you may not be familiar with.

For example, some children may live with a single parent, a relative, a blended family, or a traditional family who have different values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors and lifestyles from your own. It is important to be a culturally competent early childhood professional and create an environment that is supportive of each and every child and family. As our classrooms and society continues to diversify, you must consider the actual situations of the children and families. This week’s discussion will increase your awareness of several different family structures that could be present in your classroom. You will use your knowledge and experience to describe how to best support these families. To prepare for this week’s discussion, please read the Knoph & Swick (2008) article, as well as Chapter 2 in the Gestwicki course text, focusing specifically on the families described beginning on Page 23. Additionally, please use at least two sources to support your response.

For this discussion, you are to write a response from the perspective of either a teacher, early childhood administrator, or other early childhood professional of your choosing. Please write on one role that best aligns with your career interests and goals. After you have read through the descriptions of families in your textbook, choose one family to be the focus of your discussion. Be sure to explicitly state which family you are focusing on by writing the child’s name in the subject line of your discussion post. Taking respect for diversity and cultural competence in early childhood education into consideration, address the following discussion prompts:

Provide a summary of the family structure and identify the types of diversity within their family.

Analyze what makes their situation challenging and discuss how this impacts their family.

Develop five strategies to best support the child in your care, including how you will support the family. Also, please incorporate specific action steps within these strategies. Action steps are what you will actually do in your role to support the child and their family. For example, one suggestion might be, “As the caregiver of Joshua Stein (Gestwicki, 2013, p. 24), I could suggest, or encourage the family to….”

chapter 2

2-1. What Defines a Family?

The family is the most adaptable of human institutions and is able to modify its characteristics to meet those of the society in which it lives.Certainly, the family has adapted to much in recent decades: urbanization, a consumer-oriented economy, economic uncertainty, wars and terrorist attacks, changes in traditional religious and moral codes, increasing cultural diversity, and changes in all relationships basic to family life—including but not limited to those between male and female and young and old. Such changes have been occurring in every corner of the world, although our primary concern here is the American family.

Consider the families you might meet within any classroom or community: single-father families and single-mother families, with parents who may be widowed, divorced, or have never married; blended families from second marriages that bring together children from unrelated backgrounds; unmarried couples with children; gay and lesbian parents; adoptive families; grandparents functioning as parents in the absence of the intermediate generation; foster families; and families of mixed racial heritage—either biological or adoptive.

Such a wide range of families and relationships may make us feel uncomfortable in the distance from our values or ideals or comforted by the realization that our families are not the only ones that do not fit the perfect image of 1970s families in The Cosby Show seen on late-night cable reruns.

The word family has always meant many things to many people. What comes to mind when you think of the traditional family? Social historian Stephanie Coontz reminds us that this answer has changed depending on the era and its particular myths (2000). Despite the obvious fact that the phrase the American family does not describe one reality, it is used sweepingly. Many creators of television commercials seem to think it usually means a white, middle-class, monogamous father and mother at work, children busy with school and enrichment activities family—one that lives in a suburban one-family house, nicely filled with an array of appliances, a minivan or SUV in the driveway, and probably a dog in the yard. Such a description excludes the vast majority of American families, according to the last census(which does not enumerate dogs or minivans but found less than 7 percent of households conforming to the classic family headed by a working husband with a wife and two children at home). A recently made comment was that whereas most families used to have 2.6 children, many children now have 2.6 parents.

The entire Western world has experienced similar changes in family life during the past several decades.

Rather than suggest that the family is under siege, it is more accurate to suggest that our image of family may need to be broadened to accept diversity. It may be more important to concentrate on what families do rather than what they look like. Family may be more about content than about form (see Figure 2-1).

2-1a. “Ideal” Family Images

What image comes to mind when you see the word family? People’s mental images vary greatly, based in large part on their individual life experiences.

Try an experiment while you think about family. On a piece of paper, draw stick figures to represent the members of the family you first knew as a young child. Who represented family to you? Then, do the same to represent your family when you were a teenager. Had your family changed? Was anyone added or removed? What were the reasons for any changes?

Now draw the family in which you presently live. Who are your family members? What does this say about any changes in your life? If, as an adult, you have lived in numerous family structures, represent them, too.

Now, for one last picture. Imagine that you could design the ideal family for yourself. Draw what it would look like.

Sorting through your pictures may generate some thinking about family. One prediction is that most of the ideal pictures include a father,mother, and two children (probably a boy first and then a girl). If you are like most students who have done this, the ideal family usually includes these members—regardless of the actual composition of the families in which individuals have participated or presently live. Real experiences are often passed over in favor of the ideal two-parent, two-child home.

For many, the image of an ideal family is influenced less by real experiences than by subtle cultural messages that have bombarded us since childhood. The Vanier Institute reports that 86 percent of high school students surveyed, including 78 percent of the teens whose own parents had not stayed together, expect a lifelong marriage. From magazine advertisements to children’s books—and, even more pervasively, from television shows—the attractive vision of husband, wife, and children beams at us. These inescapable messages influence our thinking about desirable family characteristics, and may produce guilt and negative feelings when the reality does not match the ideal.

Interestingly, students surveyed are aware that their ideal image is just that and are also aware of the societal influences that helped produce it.

Family Images

Draw the family you lived in as a child.

Draw the family you lived in as a teenager.

Draw the family in which you presently live.

Draw the ideal family you would design for yourself.

Share your pictures with two classmates.

Considering all the pictures, what statements can you make about family and the influences that have created your sense of an ideal family?

But they may be less aware of how insidiously this subliminal image can influence their encounters with real families. If an ideal lurking unknowingly in a teacher’s value system is considered “right,” then a negative evaluation can be made of any family that does not measure up to this standard. The problem with assessing this one nuclear family A social unit composed of parents and children. model as “good” is that it may prevent us from considering alternative family structures as equally valid.

It is too easy for a teacher to feel more affinity and comfort with a family that approaches his or her ideal than with one that is clearly outside the teacher’s individual frame of reference.

2-1b. Samples of Diverse Family Structures

If personal images of family cannot convey a complex enough picture, perhaps brief descriptions of families you might meet and work with will help. In Chapter 1, you followed two fictitious families through a day. Here, we will meet them and others—as a sample of families any teacher may encounter—to consider the diversity in structure that corresponds to the differing values, customs,cultural influences, and lifestyles that appear in our world. Watch for these same families later in this book when we consider different relationships and techniques in teacher-parent communication.

If personal images of family cannot convey a complex enough picture, perhaps brief descriptions of families you might meet and work with will help. In Chapter 1, you followed two fictitious families through a day. Here, we will meet them and others—as a sample of families any teacher may encounter—to consider the diversity in structure that corresponds to the differing values, customs,cultural influences, and lifestyles that appear in our world. Watch for these same families later in this book when we consider different relationships and techniques in teacher-parent communication.artment store. Since then, her income has come from TANF Temporary Aid to Needy Families—the welfare reform legislation passed in 1996. (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) funds and food stamp payments as well as the subsidized housing. She is now beginning a job-training program, hoping to follow through with her plan to become a nurse’s assistant. Ricky has been home with Sylvia, but he will enter a child care program when his mother begins the job-training program.

You have also met Otis and Fannie Lawrence, each married before. Otis has two sons from his first marriage—14 and 10—who visit one weekend each month and for about six weeks each summer. Fannie’s seven-year-old daughter Kim and four-year-old son Pete see their father, who has moved out of state, only once or twice a year and have called Otis “Daddy” since their mother married him three years ago. Fannie is six months pregnant, and they have recently moved into an attractive new four-bedroom house, knowing even that will be too small when the boys visit. Fannie teaches third grade and will take a three-month maternity leave after the baby is born; she is on the waiting list at four centers for infant care. Otis sells new cars and is finishing up a business degree at night. Kim goes to an after school child care program that costs $115 a week. Pete is in a private child care center, operated by a national chain, that costs $175 a week. The Lawrence family income is $98,000 annually. The Lawrence family is African American.

Bob and Jane Weaver have been married five years. They married the day after Jane graduated from high school. Sandra, blonde and blue-eyed just like her parents, was born before their first anniversary. Bob and Jane live in an apartment down the street from Jane’s parents and around the block from her married sister. Jane has not worked outside the home much during their marriage. They are hoping to have another child next year. A second pregnancy ended in stillbirth last year. Bob earns $49,750 on the production line at a furniture factory. Jane started working part-time this year to help save for a down payment for a first home purchase. Her mother cares for Sandra while Jane works. Her income of $950 a month after taxes would not go far if she had to pay for child care. They are concerned that Bob’s hours could be decreased in the economic downturn.

Salvatore and Teresa Rodriguez have lived in this country for six years. Occasionally, one of their relatives comes to stay with them, but the rest of the family has stayed in Mexico. Right now, Sal’s 20-year-old brother Joseph is here taking an auto mechanics course; he plans to be married later this year and will probably stay in the same town. Teresa misses her mother, who has not seen their two children since they were babies. Sylvia is seven and has cerebral palsy; she attends a developmental kindergarten that has an excellent staff for the physiotherapy and speech therapy that she needs. Tony is four. Teresa works part-time in a bakery. Her husband works the second shift on the maintenance crew at the bus depot so he can be home with the children while she is at work. This is necessary because Sylvia needs so much extra care. They rent a six-room house, which they chose for the safe neighborhood and large garden.

Mary Howard is 16 and has always lived with her parents in a predominantly middle-class neighborhood of African American families. Her grandmother had a stroke and now lives with them, too. When Mary’s daughter, Cynthia, was born last year, her mother cared for the baby so Mary could finish the tenth grade. Cynthia is now in a church-operated child care center because Mary’s mother needed to return to work to cover increased family expenses. Mary still hopes she might someday marry Cynthia’s father, who is starting college this year. He comes to see her and the baby every week or so. Mary also wonders if she will go onto train in computer programming after she finishes high school, as she had planned, or if she should just get a job so she can help her mother more with Cynthia and with their expenses.

Susan Henderson celebrated her thirty-ninth birthday in the hospital the day after giving birth to Lucy. Her husband Ed is 40.After 13 years of marriage, they have found adding a child joyful and shocking. Lucy was very much a planned child. Susan felt established enough in her career as an architect to be able to work from her home for a year or so. Ed’s career as an investment counselor has also demanded a lot of his attention. Some of their friends are still wavering over the decision to begin a family. Ed and Susan are quite definite that this one child will be all they will have time for. Money is not the issue in their decision; their combined income last year was well over $350,000. Susan’s major complaint since being at home with the baby is that the condominium where they live has few families with children, and none of them are preschoolers. She has signed up for a Mother’s Morning Out program for infants one day a week and has a nanny who comes to their home each day so she can work.

Sam (age two) and Lisa (age four) Butler see their parents a lot—they just never see them together. Bill and Joan separated almost two years ago, and their divorce is about to become final. One of the provisions calls for joint physical custody of their two preschoolers. What this means right now is spending three nights one week with one parent and four with the other. The schedule gets complicated sometimes because Bill travels on business, but so far, the adults have been able to work it out. The children seem to enjoy going from Dad’s apartment to Mom and the house in which they have always lived, but on the days they carry their suitcases to the child care center for the midweek switch over, they need lots of reassurance about who is picking them up. Joan worries about how this arrangement will work as the children get older. Sam and Lisa attend a child development center run by the local community college. Joan is already concerned about finding good after school care for Lisa when she starts school in the fall, and she knows that it will further complicate her schedule when she has to make two pickup stops after work.She works as a secretary for the phone company and needs to take some computer courses this fall, but she does not know how she can fit them in and the kids, too—let alone find time to date a new man she has met.

James Parker and Sam Leeper adopted a one-year-old Korean boy, Stephen, four years ago. They have been together in a committed relationship for 10 years, although they do not live in a state that recognizes gay marriage or legal civil unions. They live a fairly quiet life and visit with Sam’s family, who lives in the same town, as well as a few friends, including another family they met at an adoptive parents’ support group. Many of their gay friends have also expressed the desire to adopt but are concerned about the prejudices sometimes directed toward gay fathers. Stephen attends prekindergarten in an early childhood program at a church in their neighborhood. Sam is an emergency room doctor at the local hospital. James sells insurance with a national company. When asked if they are worried about their son growing up without a relationship with a mother figure, James responds that Stephen has a grandmother and aunt with whom he is close and that they are more concerned about helping him come to know something of his native culture, as well as for him to be free of some of society’s myths regarding sexuality.

James Parker and Sam Leeper adopted a one-year-old Korean boy, Stephen, four years ago. They have been together in acommitted relationship for 10 years, although they do not live in a state that recognizes gay marriage or legal civil unions. Theylive a fairly quiet life and visit with Sam’s family, who lives in the same town, as well as a few friends, including another family theymet at an adoptive parents’ support group. Many of their gay friends have also expressed the desire to adopt but are concernedabout the prejudices sometimes directed toward gay fathers. Stephen attends prekindergarten in an early childhood program at achurch in their neighborhood. Sam is an emergency room doctor at the local hospital. James sells insurance with a nationalcompany. When asked if they are worried about their son growing up without a relationship with a mother figure, James responds that Stephen has a grandmother and aunt with whom he is close and that they are more concerned about helping him come to know something of his native culture, as well as for him to be free of some of society’s myths regarding sexuality.

xuality.

Nguyen Van Son has worked very hard since he came to this country with his uncle 12 years ago. After graduating from high school near the top of his class, he completed a mechanical drafting course at a technical college. He has a good job working for a manufacturing company. His wife Dang Van Binh, a longtime family friend, came from Vietnam only six years ago, and they were married soon after. Her English is still not good, so she takes evening classes. Their three-year-old son Nguyen Thi Hoang goes to a half-day preschool program because his father is eager for him to become comfortable speaking English with other children.Their baby daughter Le Thi Tuyet is at home with her mother. On weekends, the family spends time with other Vietnamese families, eager for companionship and preserving their memories of Vietnam. None of their neighbors talk much with this family,assuming they cannot speak English.

Richard Stein and Roberta Howell have lived together for 18 months. Richard’s six-year-old son Joshua lives with them. Roberta has decided she wants no children; she and Richard have no plans for marriage at this time. Roberta works long hours as a department store buyer. Richard writes for the local newspaper. On the one or two evenings a week that neither of them can getaway from work, Joshua is picked up from a neighborhood family child care home by a college student Richard met at the paper.Several times, this arrangement has fallen through and Joshua has had to stay late with his caregiver, who does not like this because she cares for Joshua and five other preschoolers from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.

Richard Stein and Roberta Howell have lived together for 18 months. Richard’s six-year-old son Joshua lives with them. Roberta has decided she wants no children; she and Richard have no plans for marriage at this time. Roberta works long hours as a department store buyer. Richard writes for the local newspaper. On the one or two evenings a week that neither of them can getaway from work, Joshua is picked up from a neighborhood family child care home by a college student Richard met at the paper.Several times, this arrangement has fallen through and Joshua has had to stay late with his caregiver, who does not like this because she cares for Joshua and five other preschoolers from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day.

ay.

he and his wife believe that one parent should be available as much as possible during children’s early years. He sometimes wonders if some of the digs he receives are because his wife, who is the main family breadwinner, is white and he is black, or whether it is just because others do not seem to understand th e reasoning they used to make their choices about roles inside and outside the home. Jana is happy and very successful in her work, providing for a comfortable lifestyle, although she misses being home with the family. When out of town, she tries to talk with the children on Skype every night.

In this sample, as in any other you might draw from a cross section in any school, the family some might call “traditional”—with a father who works to earn the living and a mother whose work is mostly rearing the children and caring for the home—is a distinct minority in the variety of structures; in fact, well over 60 percent of American children under age eighteen live in what used to be considered as unconventional families (Downer & Myers, 2010).

The last census indicated the diversity and continuing change in patterns of living situations. The proportion of children living with two married parents continues to steadily decrease, falling from 77 percent in 1980 to less than 25 percent in 2011 (Coontz, 2011). Among children younger than age 18 today, about one-quarter live only with their mothers, 5 percent live only with their fathers, and another 4 percent live with neither parent—often in the care of grandparents, other relatives, or foster care (Coontz, 2011).

Cultural Considerations icon Family diversity

As you read the descriptions of the various families, you may be focusing only on the most obvious cultural differences, as in families who have come from other countries or speak different languages. But when we define culture broadly to include the values, beliefs,and usual behaviors passed on to individuals by the segment of society around them, we realize that each of these families will have its unique culture, related to the specific environment that surrounds each one. Cultural beliefs are influenced by educational and socioeconomic experiences, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and individual community and family interpretations of societal norms.

To reflect on the reality of this awareness, think about answers to the following three questions and then discuss your answers with two classmates to discover how your unique family culture influences your own thinking:

What one food would you be astonished not to see on the table during a family celebration?

What is one thing you would expect only a mother to do? Only a father?

What is the correct way to fold a bath towel?

Each of us comes from a unique cultural background, no matter what our ethnic or language background.

The Vanier Institute defines family as any combination of two or more persons who are bound together over time by ties of mutual consent, birth, and/or adoption of placement and who, together, assume responsibilities for variant combinations of some of the following:

Physical maintenance and care of group members

Addition of new members through procreation or adoption

Socialization of children

Social control of members

Production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services

Affective nurturance—love

How do we define family? The Census Bureau definition of “two or more people related through blood, marriage, or adoption who share a common residence” seems too narrow to include all the dynamics of these sample families. Webster’s Eleventh New Collegiate Dictionary suggests a broader interpretation and no fewer than 22 definitions that seem more applicable when considering these sample families: “a group of people united by certain convictions or common characteristics” or “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.” Perhaps the most inclusive definition of a family is “a small group of intimate, transacting, and interdependent persons who share values, goals, resources, and other responsibilities for decisions; have a commitment to one another over time; and accept the responsibility of bringing up children.” Or simply, from the definition in a survey by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, “a group of people who love and care for each other.” The organization Family Support America says that “family is a group of people who take responsibility for each other’s well-being, and defining the family is up to the family itself.” What about the idea that family is “not only persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption, but also sets of interdependent but independent persons who share some common goals,resources, and a commitment to each other over time” (Hildebrand et al., 2007)? Mary Pipher (1996) adds these thoughts:

Family is a collection of people who pool resources and help each other over the long haul. Families love one another even when that requires sacrifice. Family means that if you disagree, you still stay together…. All members can belong regardless of merit. Everyone is included regardless of health, likability, or prestige…. Families come through when they must…. From my point of view, the issue isn’t biology. Rather the issues are commitment and inclusiveness.

Consider the Truth of This Statement

A family is like no other family, like some other families, and like all other families.

No matter how we define it, family is important to us (see Figure 2-2). Families may include more than just parents and children. Mary Howard’s family includes her parents, grandmother, and child, and the Rodriguezes have Uncle Joseph. The development of the nuclear family is more for affection and support than for the self-sufficient economic unit that the traditional extended family created. Families may include people not related by blood and hereditary bonds. The Parker-Leeper and Stein-Howell households include parents and children and others whose relationship is based on choice, not law. New relatives, like those acquired in a step family, such as the Lawrences, may beadded. Families may omit a generation, such as Justin Martin and his grandparents. In Justin’s case, as with increasing numbers of children—now about 4 percent (Child stats, 2013), he is being raised by grandparents in the absence of his own parents. Aunts, grandparents, and other family members as well as thousands of foster parents who are not related to children by blood are some of the adults who head modern families.

What Does Brain Research Tell Us about Poverty and Brain Development in Early Childhood? Brain Icon

With millions of American children spending their first years living in families with incomes below the poverty line, the concern arises for their greater risk of impaired brain development. This is due to the number of risk factors associated with poverty that can influence the brain through multiple pathways. During the sensitive early years, children’s brains are most vulnerable to deficits and negatives in their environments. These include the following: inadequate nutrition, both prenatally and in the early years; effects of nicotine, alcohol,and drugs; exposure to environmental toxins; trauma and abuse; maternal depression; and the quality of daily care. Any or all of these risk factors may have a direct impact on the neurological development within the brain, becoming evident later in delayed motor skill sand in much lower test scores related to vocabulary, reading comprehension, math, and general knowledge. America’s poor children are disproportionately exposed to these risk factors.

Consider how quality child-care experiences for America’s poor children can help mitigate some of these specific risk factors.

What is being done in your community to alleviate the effects of poverty on children’s development?

Learn more about the work of the Children’s Defense Fund by visiting their website.

Opportunity for Self-Reflection icon

Think about our case study families just described. Are there any families with whom you would be uncomfortable? What is causing this discomfort? How would you work with this family, given the discomfort? Which families seem closest to you in values? How do you define family?

Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity

Ackerman, K. By the Dawn’s Early Light. (Mom works the night shift)

Adoff, A. Black Is Brown Is Tan. (interracial family)

Aldrich, A. How My Family Came to Be—Daddy, Papa and Me. (adoption, biracial family, two dads)

Aylette, J. Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment, and Love. (photos and descriptions of all kinds of families)

Bauer, C. My Mom Travels a Lot. [self-explanatory]

Baum, L. One More Time. (child going between Mom’s house and Dad’s house)

Blain, M. The Terrible Thing That Happened at Our House. (Mom takes a job)

Blomquist, G., & Blomquist, F. Zachary’s New Home: A Story for Foster and Adopted Children. [self-explanatory]

Bosch, S. Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. (two fathers)

Boyd, L. Sam Is My Half-Brother. [self-explanatory]

Brisson, P. Mama Loves Me From Away. (mother in prison)

Brownstone, C. All Kinds of Mothers. (mothers who work in and out of the home)

Bunting, E. Can You Do This, Old Badger? (living with grandparent)

Bunting, E. Fly Away Home. (homeless child and father)

Cowen-Fletcher, J. Mama Zooms. (mother in a wheelchair)

Crews, D. Bigmama’s. (extended family)

Davol, M. Black, White, Just Right. (biracial family)

Downey, R. Love Is a Family. [self-explanatory]

Drescher, J. Your Family, My Family. (different shapes and sizes)

Eichler, M. Martin’s Father. (nurturing single father)

Eisenberg, P. You’re My Nikki. (new working mother)

Falwell, C. Feast for 10. (large family)

Galloway, P. Good Times, Bad Times—Mummy and Me. (working single mother)

Galloway, P. Jennifer Has Two Daddies. (child alternates weeks with her mom and stepdad and her father)

Garden, N. Molly’s Family. (two moms)

Gonzalez, R. Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio. (two moms; bilingual book)

Hayes, M., & Witherell, J. My Daddy Is in Prison. [self-explanatory]

Hickman, M. Robert Lives with His Grandparents. [self-explanatory]

Hines, A. Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti. (father cooking)

Jenness, A. Families. (family diversity)

Juster, N. The Hello, Goodbye Window. (grandparents)

Kroll, V. Wood-Hoopoe Willie. (African American family)

Kuklin, S. How My Family Lives in America. (real stories of different ethnic backgrounds)

Lasker, J. Mothers Can Do Anything. (many jobs mothers do)

Loewen, I. My Mom Is So Unusual. (contemporary American Indian)

Maslac, H. Finding a Job for Daddy. (unemployed father)

McPhail, D. The Teddy Bear. (homelessness)

Merriam, E. Mommies at Work. (mothers who work in and out of the home)

Moore, E. Grandma’s House. (spending the summer with an active, nontraditional grandmother)

Newman, L. Gloria Goes to Gay Pride. (child in gay family)

Parr, T. The Family Book. (different types of families, including two moms and two dads)

Pelligrini, N. Families Are Different. (family diversity)

Quinlan, P. My Dad Takes Care of Me. (unemployed father at home)

Richardson, J., & Parnell, P. And Tango Makes Three. (two dads)

Rotner, S., & Kelly, S. Lots of Moms. (the many appearances of American mothers, and what they do)

Schlein, M. The Way Mothers Are. (unconditional love)

Schwartz, A. Oma and Bobo. (mother, grandmother, and child)

Simon, N. All Families Are Special. (different types of families)

Simon, N. All Kinds of Families. (diverse family structures)

Skutch, R. Who’s in a Family? (multicultural contemporary families)

Soto, G. Too Many Tamales. (Mexican American family)

Spelman, C. After Charlotte’s Mom Died. (single father)

Stinson, K. Mom and Dad Don’t Live Together Any More. (divorce)

Tax, M. Families. (variety of families)

Valentine, J. One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads. (all kinds of dads)

Vigna, J. My Two Uncles. (child with uncle and his partner)

Wickens, E. Anna Day and the O-Ring. (two mothers)

Wild, M. Space Travelers. (homeless)

Willhoite, M. Daddy’s Roommate. (divorced parent, gay father)

Williams, V. A Chair for My Mother. (families; generations of urban working-class family)

Woodson, J. Visiting Day. (father in prison)

Families may consist of more people than those present in a household at any one time. The Butler joint custody arrangements and the“blended” Lawrence family are examples of separated family structures.

Families change. Their composition is dynamic, not static. It is assumed that Uncle Joseph will form his own household when he and his fiancée marry; Mary Howard hopes to marry and establish her own household. The Butler family may have additions when the parents remarry, as both say they would like to. The Weavers hope to have another baby. Change occurs as family members grow and develop.Family members are continually adjusting to shifts within the family dynamics that challenge earlier positions. It is important that teacher sand classrooms always convey an understanding that each family is unique. For ideas, refer to the “Good Books to Read with Children to Celebrate Family Diversity” box. Families are complex systems, and such outside systems as schools, businesses and employers,neighborhoods, communities, religious organizations, subcultures, and society all influence the functioning of families. In recent years, all these systems have been undergoing turbulence and change. It is time to look at some of those changes (see Figure 2-3).

chapter 2 cont’d

2-2. Demographics of Modern Families

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2-2. Demographics of Modern Families

Is it harder or easier to be a parent today than it was a generation or two ago? There is no question that today’s families are functioningunder conditions different from those of their grandparents or even parents. Changes in family forms and functions are not necessarily bador worrisome—unless one insists on clinging to the past, maintaining the exclusive rightness of bygone ways. Almost all the changesdiscussed in this chapter have had both positive and negative impacts on today’s families.

Some recent trends in contemporary life influencing the nature of families include the following:

Marital instability and rising numbers of single parents

Changes in gender role behavior

Mobility, urbanization, and economic conditions

Decreasing family size

Increased rate of social change

Development of a child-centered society

Stress in modern living

Each of these will be discussed in this chapter.

2-2a. Marital Instability and Single Parents

Statistics tell us part of the story. The proportion of children living with two married parents fell from 77 percent in 1980 to 64 percent in2012, the last year for which we have government statistics (Childstats, 2013). Currently, it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of marriagesbegun today will end in divorce. Between 60 and 70 percent of second marriages will collapse. According to Census Bureau predictions, it islikely that at least half of all children born in this decade will spend a significant part of their childhood in single-parent homes. In theWestern world, fewer than two-thirds of parents who are legally married when their first child is born are still together when theiryoungest child graduates from high school.

Top 10 Trends in Modern Families

The Vanier Institute reports these trends:

Fewer couples are getting legally married.

More couples are breaking up.

Families are getting smaller.

Children experience more transitions as parents change their marital status.

Adults are generally satisfied with life.

Family violence is under reported.

Multiple-earner families are now the norm.

Women still do most of the juggling involved in balancing work and home.

Inequality is worsening.

The future will have more aging families (Sauve, 2004).

Between 1970 and 2012, the proportion of children growing up in single-parent families more than doubled to about 35 percent. The majority of these single-parent families are created by divorce. But divorced parents—70 to 80 percent—often remarry. One child in five lives in a step family or blended family. In many areas, children living with two biological parents are a distinct minority.

In addition, some of the single-parent families are the result of a rising birthrate among unmarried women (see Figure 2-4). Births to unmarried women continue to increase—now over 40 percent of all births each year (NCHS, 2013) compared with just over 3 percent of births in 1940. What is interesting is that the birthrate to teen aged mothers continues to drop, with the majority of unmarried mothers being in their 20s. Even so, in some hospitals in poor urban areas, well over half of the women giving birth are single teenagers (see Figure2-5).

Although there is no question that many single parents do a remarkable job of parenting, a single-parent family can face additional difficulties. A growing body of social and scientific data indicates that children in families disrupted by divorce and birth outside marriage often do worse than children in intact families in several respects. They are two to three times as likely as children in two-parent families to have emotional and behavioral problems and more likely to drop out of high school, get pregnant as teenagers, abuse drugs, and get in trouble with the law. They are also at much higher risk for physical or sexual abuse. But single-parent families are as diverse as any other.When all things are equal—when a single mother has a job that pays a decent wage, is basically contented with her life, and is not overly stressed—there are no major behavioral differences between children raised by single parents and those raised by two. But for purposes of considering demographics The statistical data of a human population. and families, here we note that family structure may be linked to children’s well-being. In the absence of one parent, families often have less social and human capital to draw upon.

Poverty

The term single parent does not fully convey the reality that mothers head most of these families. About one-quarter of all American children (50 percent of all black children) live only with their mothers; about 5 percent of all children live with their fathers alone, although this figure is an increase of 25 percent over the previous census—perhaps indicating changes in how custody is granted to parents and more social acceptance of single fathering (Child stats, 2013).

Poverty affects more than 22 percent of all children (Addy, et al., 2013) and makes the United States a shocking leader in the percentage of poor children in the world. In addition, poverty disproportionately affects children who live in mother-headed households.

Children younger than six who are living with single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than children who live in two-parent households. Children living with single fathers are two and a half times more likely to live below the poverty line. Of children being raised by grandparents, the Children’s Defense Fund reports that from 10 to 30 percent are living in poverty. Figure 2-6 indicates how poverty among children is divided by specific factors. Research indicates that three factors indicate particular risk for poverty:

Single parenthood

Low educational attainment

Part-time or no employment

Figure 2-6. America’s poor children are everywhere.

Who Are America’s Poor Children?Poor children are Over 20% of total of children Of all poor children: Living in single mother families 56.1%Living in single father families 8.6%Living in married couple families 35.3%White poor children 12.3 %Black poor children 37.9%Hispanic poor children 33.8%Asian poor children 13.8%American Indian 29%Living with grandparents 27%Living with neither parent 32%© Cengage Learning®

In the current economic climate, these factors may intertwine and make it very difficult for single-parent families to escape poverty.Surprisingly, nearly 70 percent of poor young children live in families in which a parent is employed.

Single-parent families created by divorce may precipitously plunge children into poverty. In the years following divorce, living standards for ex-wives and their children drop by an average of 30 percent, whereas those for the men involved rise 8 percent. Only half of all families with an absent parent have child support orders; of these families, only half receive the full amount ordered. About a quarter receive partial payment, and a quarter receive nothing. Despite successful efforts in some states to enforce such legal obligations, a majority of fathers’scheduled payments are still in arrears.

Child support accounts for only 15 percent of the total income of single-parent families. Financial stress is a major complaint of divorced women. Many single-parent families are not able to provide adequate support services they need, such as child care while a mother works,as well as recreation or other social relief for a parent.

Poverty in the United States is increasingly linked to family structure. This is the first decade in the nation’s history in which a majority of all poor families are headed by women—in what has been called the feminization of poverty. In female-headed families, the poverty rate is over 40 percent; in families headed by a parent younger than age 30, this rate is even higher. African American and Latino families are disproportionately represented among poor and single mother–headed households. Currently, one child in 50 is homeless, forced by economic disaster into sleeping with their families in shelters, motels, campgrounds, or cars. Children and families are the fastest-growing group among the homeless population—now representing about 40 percent of all homeless (Hubert, 2009).

TeachSource video activity Icon Video Activity

After viewing the video clip Hard Time Generation, reflect on these questions:

What are some of the challenges faced by homeless children and their families?

What are some of the challenges faced by the schools serving homeless children and families?

How does this information influence what you will do in your classroom?

Cuts in social spending have included drastic reductions in the food stamp program. Increasingly, government safety nets for poor families have been torn away. Families that are particularly affected by this are single-parent families, especially those headed by young parents.

Stress

A family that began with two parents and shifts to single-parent status will undoubtedly experience increased stress for some time—if not permanently.

Adjustments must be made by all family members when any of the following changed living patterns occur:

The loss of a relationship, regardless of how negative

A move and new job or school arrangements

Other changes necessitated by the constraints of a more limited budget

Less contact with one parent

Changed behaviors in both parents

We will talk more about this stress in Chapter 14. Although custody arrangements now often include joint physical custody for both parent sand more divorcing fathers are granted custody than previously, the majority of single-parent families created by divorce are headed by women. A mother in a single-parent family is under the additional strain of adding the father role to her parental responsibilities. Not only do many divorcing fathers abandon their children financially, but they also do so emotionally; half of all divorced fathers do not see their children. The mother may easily overload herself while trying to compensate for her concern induced by social attitudes that a single-parent family is a pathological family. The mixed data in this area are scarcely reassuring, and real or feared changes in children’s behavior can add appreciably to a parent’s burden at this time. Social attitudes toward divorce may have undergone a shift toward acceptance, but attitudes toward what some have unfortunately called a “broken family” still leave many single parents with an additional burden of guilt.

If a single-parent family is merged to create a new blended family, additional stress may be created. A new family may begin with financial problems created when the income must support more than one family and with emotional burdens created by the multiplicity of possible new relationships as well as the striving to create an “instant” family, warm and close, to make up for the earlier pain and banish the “ugly stepparent” fears. Unfortunately, these burdens may be too heavy: Up to 60 percent of blended family marriages end in divorce within four years. This means that many children may experience divorce, remarriage, and all the attendant stresses two or three times before they become adults.

Never-wed single-parent families may also face stress in the form of a possible lack of cultural, social, or economic support for the family,but teachers do well to remember that every situation is unique.

2-2b. Changes in Role Behavior

In the reruns of television series from the 1960s, Beaver Cleaver’s mom was home baking cookies, and Aunt Bea raised Opie while Andy worked to support the family. Today, however, most moms—in both television sitcoms and real life—are working outside their homes (see Figure 2-7).

Current census figures indicate that the majority of women in the workforce are mothers of children living at home. To put this in perspective, in 1900 only one wife in 20 was in the labor force, by 1950, the ratio was one out of five, and now it is more than three out of five, with more than 40 percent of women being the main or sole breadwinner in the family. But labor statistics show that more mothers are now staying home when they have a choice. According to the last census, the number of working mothers has declined for the first time since 1976, declining 4 percent for mothers of preschool children and 6 percent for mothers of infants, including mothers at all education levels. Demographers note that many mothers who are members of so-called Generation X—now in their 20s and 30s—are looking for a sense of realistic balance, wanting to be good workers and good mothers (Howe, Strauss, & Matson, 2000). Howe sees these mothers at the cutting edge of a generation that is “very protective of family life.” On the other hand, the Center for Work Life Law at the University of California Hastings College of Law pointed out that “workplace inflexibility, the lack of family supports and workplace bias” may be forcing American mothers out of the workforce—whether they can really afford to “opt out” or not (Warner, 2006). And with the most recent economic downturn, many mothers and fathers have lost work—without any choice at all.

Women’s Roles

Statistics alone cannot describe all that has occurred since the 1960s with the redefinition of women’s roles. Since the publication of The Feminine Mystique (Friedan, 1963), women the world over have urged each other to find equality in their relationships with men and in their places in the community and at work. This has not been an easy change for anyone involved. For women, it has meant adding new roles while often retaining much of the responsibility for household maintenance and child rearing. If a woman tries to combine all the roles she saw her mother play at home with her new work roles, she is in danger of falling into the “Superwoman” syndrome, with exhaustion and stress spilling over into all aspects of her life. Four out of every 10 women “often” or “very often” report feeling “used up” at the end of the workday. Working mothers are more likely to get sick than their husbands. Although women have cut back their household work from about 30 hours a week two decades ago to 18 hours a week today, their working husbands have not made up the difference,increasing their household work only from 5 hours to 10 hours, according to a recent report on American time use (BLS, 2013).

Today, women work so they can contribute to the necessities for their families, as well as the items considered important for a rising family living standard. Recent statistics have found that an increasing number of married women are now the primary breadwinners in the family (Rampell, 2013). But it is more than a dollars-and-cents issue. Many women would not give up the satisfaction of work even if money were not an issue. Mothers working outside the home are likely here to stay. But this creates complexity in blending real and mythical issues about social roles.

Work is not the only aspect of women’s lives to be reconsidered. The language of the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s spoke of women as one of society’s minorities, without equality at home or outside the home. Issues of sexuality and reproduction and of sex role stereotypes and limitations were discussed nationwide. Some real changes were effected, and awareness was raised. The increase in marital instability may be partly attributable to this questioning of traditional relationships, and the women’s movement may have been a major and permanent influence on the nature of families and society. Whether or not women and men agree with the push toward equality, it is virtually impossible for anyone in the country to remain untouched by the debate and its repercussions on lifestyles. But change comes through turmoil, and this environment of changing relationships and role behaviors has pushed women and men in the family into less comfortable territory.

Men’s Roles

Men’s family roles are on similarly challenging new ground. Not only are they asked to share positions and power in the workplace with women, but also at home, more is expected of them than was expected of their fathers. They may still not be carrying their equal share of household chores, but the days of hiding guilt-free behind the newspaper until dinner is on the table are gone. Gone also are the models of paternal behavior they knew as children. But after all, this is what happened to their fathers before them. As fathers received more leisure time due to changing work patterns and as the expert advice to parents continued to change from stern rigidity to concern with children feeling loved and happy, fathers became people with whom their children could have fun.

Today’s father plays with his child, but he also takes his turn sitting in the pediatrician’s office, cooking dinner, supervising homework, and carpooling. Frequently, he is involved before his child’s birth—attending childbirth classes with his wife to learn how to coach her through prepared childbirth (see Figure 2-8). But is this involvement as pervasive as some articles in women’s magazines portray?

The answer appears to be increasingly yes in families where mothers are “work committed”—that is, who work full time and share financial decisions. In these families, men are beginning to shrink the labor gap in the household and are becoming more involved with their children. One report says that men are now the primary caregivers in one out of every five dual-earner households with preschool children(Halle, 2002). This suggests that many more men have significant child care responsibilities than is usually thought.

Certainly, the pressure for men to become more involved with household and child care responsibilities has come from women, especially those with growing economic power. But fathers themselves are frequently looking for a new lifestyle—one that allows them to be more involved with their families. Trying to find a balance between job and family responsibilities creates new stress for some fathers today.

Although increased participation is occurring in many households, the primary responsibility for house and child care remains the mother’s—perhaps due to the constraints of role behavior norms for men and women and the signals sent by society that moms are the parents who really count, while dads are in minor roles. One writer (Helms, 2000) offers the example of a school secretary trying to get in touch with the mother of a sick child. When asked by a coworker whether she had already called the father, she said she did not like to interrupt him. The implication is that Mom’s work is more easily interruptible and anyway it is really her job to care for a sick child (an additional source of stress for working mothers) but also that Dad is either less caring or less capable of handling the emergency rather than equally competent and caring as Mom. Such implicit messages weaken men’s attempts to be fully involved parents.

Certainly, there are not a lot of models of highly participant fathers, and the few fathers who do participate equally as parents receive little recognition and support—at least in their perceptions. Many men who try to take time off to attend a teacher conference or school play get the impression that the boss and coworkers see them as slackers and expect the mothers—working or not—to handle such matters.

Some research projects also show that men who attempt to take on more family responsibilities get increased negative feedback from grandparents and even from wives. The legacy of the model of male as breadwinner and female as caregiver may create stress for men trying to find new roles. But it is probably fair to say that today’s father is often called on to share with his wife all aspects of the children’scare and to display many of the nurturing behaviors previously associated only with mothers (see Figure 2-9).

Indeed, one phenomenon that occurs in many communities is fathers becoming stay-at-home parents while their wives work outside the home. These fathers assume the full responsibility for the household and care of children that was previously thought to be the woman’s role. To define what it means to be a man, major shifts in thinking are required. However men feel about it—and most fathers are pleased with their new roles—the change in women’s roles in contemporary society has changed their own. Chapter 3 will look more at recent research on the absolute importance of fathers’ involvement with their children’s lives.

Indeed, one phenomenon that occurs in many communities is fathers becoming stay-at-home parents while their wives work outside the home. These fathers assume the full responsibility for the household and care of children that was previously thought to be the woman’srole. To define what it means to be a man, major shifts in thinking are required. However men feel about it—and most fathers are pleased with their new roles—the change in women’s roles in contemporary society has changed their own. Chapter 3 will look more at recentresearch on the absolute importance of fathers’ involvement with their children’s lives.s.

Slowly, society has been pushed to alter its expectations regarding the roles of family members, and individuals are caught between trying to balance the external realities and demands and the internal psychological conflict caused by attempting a new social pattern. The jury is still out on what impact the different patterns of family roles and parenting have on family members. Certainly, there are more opportunities for personal growth, with alternatives from which to choose freely. Children have a more inclusive family model as an increasing number of fathers take on the loving and nurturing aspects of parenthood and an increasing number of mothers take on leadership roles outside as well as inside the home. Changes in roles have opened doors for everyone—men and women alike.

2-2c. Mobility, Urbanization, and Economic Conditions

With changing economic and employment patterns, many workers and their families move frequently in the search for new and better jobs.The average American moves more than 11 times in a lifetime, according to Census Bureau estimates. And in contemporary America, far more families live in urban than rural settings.

What does this mean to present-day families? When earlier families worked together on economic production in the home and on the family farm, parents were much more available to their children. The shift to urban occupations enabled many families to improve their economic status. Recent changes in the structuring of business and industry have made family job security more fragile, and families have had to move where jobs dictate. This increased geographical mobility has brought less sense of community and more isolation. It probably

means that the nuclear family—the parents and their children—are far removed from the physical presence of others who may have actedas sources of support in earlier times. With the increasing number of immigrants—legal and illegal—even more numbers of families are living far from family supports.

A mother coming home from the hospital with her new baby may know little about how to care physically for the infant, let alone how to deal with the anxiety that arises about 3 a.m. Her only support is her husband, who may be as ignorant and anxious as she is. In a by gone day, her mother, mother-in-law, aunts, cousins, sisters, and neighbors who had known her since she was a baby may have surrounded her.

What does this mean to present-day families? When earlier families worked together on economic production in the home and on the family farm, parents were much more available to their children. The shift to urban occupations enabled many families to improve their economic status. Recent changes in the structuring of business and industry have made family job security more fragile, and families have had to move where jobs dictate. This increased geographical mobility has brought less sense of community and more isolation. It probably means that the nuclear family—the parents and their children—are far removed from the physical presence of others who may have act edas sources of support in earlier times. With the increasing number of immigrants—legal and illegal—even more numbers of families are living far from family supports.

The isolation caused by moving far from traditional sources of support causes stress for today’s parents. Parents are totally responsible for everything, creating an ambivalent situation in their home and family. In one sense, the nuclear family so created has a special sense of solidarity that separates this unit from the surrounding community; its members feel more in common with one another than with anyone outside the family. Although this may produce some warm feelings of closeness, cold feelings of isolation and anxiety may also be present(see Figure 2-10).

The isolation caused by moving far from traditional sources of support causes stress for today’s parents. Parents are totally responsible for everything, creating an ambivalent situation in their home and family. In one sense, the nuclear family so created has a special sense ofsolidarity that separates this unit from the surrounding community; its members feel more in common with one another than with anyone outside the family. Although this may produce some warm feelings of closeness, cold feelings of isolation and anxiety may also be present(see Figure 2-10).

Rearing children in an urban setting offers its own problems for parents in addition to isolation. Although the diversity of cultural, religious,and racial backgrounds offers richness and variety in today’s world, it can also be a potential source of conflict as children are exposed to such a pluralistic society. And cities continue to offer the main environment for child rearing. Cities grew nearly twice as fast as other communities in the past decade, with that growth bringing problems of pollution, crime, and stress for families. Lest this be misinterpreted as a condemnation of cities, it should be recalled that our cities have become the major repositories for current culture and knowledge.

The current economic climate has brought enormous stress to contemporary families. Unemployment and underemployment have become common problems in families from all social and economic classes. The resultant financial and emotional problems have increased stress for parents and children and often created other reasons for mobility and isolation.

Do Strong Families Have in Common?

Characteristics of strong families:

Caring and appreciation

Time together

Encouragement

Commitment

Communication

Ability to cope with change

Spirituality

Community and family ties

Clear roles

From Jamieson and Wallace, 2010.

2-2d. Family Size Decreasing

According to the Census Bureau, a family household is two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Current statistics indicate the average family has shrunk over the years, from 4.76 people in 1900 to just 2.58 currently—in both Canada and the United States—with black, Hispanic, and Asian family sizes being about 3.5. (Figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s current population report sand the Vanier Institute.) This decrease is due to fewer children younger than age 18 in each household—from about 2 in 1970 to a current average of about 1.5. There are numerous reasons for this.

A major reason is delayed marriage and childbearing, with increased standards of education and career expectations. As recently as 1975,63 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married; by the 2010 census, this figure had shrunk dramatically to about aquarter. Currently, the median age for American men marrying is 28.7 years, and for women, it is 26.5 (Cohn et al., 2011).

Besides the need for prolonged education and career expectations, reasons for decreasing family size include the following:

According to the Census Bureau, a family household is two or more persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Current statistics indicate the average family has shrunk over the years, from 4.76 people in 1900 to just 2.58 currently—in both Canada and the United States—with black, Hispanic, and Asian family sizes being about 3.5. (Figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s current population report sand the Vanier Institute.) This decrease is due to fewer children younger than age 18 in each household—from about 2 in 1970 to a current average of about 1.5. There are numerous reasons for this.

Changing attitudes about women’s roles in the home and workplace

Increased expectations for the family living standards and material wants

Changing views about marriage and cohabitation

The move from rural to urban environments

Current views about parent–child relationships

There are also more single-child families (see Figure 2-11). In practical terms, this means that it is possible to become a parent without ever having touched a small baby or having had any share of responsibility for caring for younger brothers and sisters, leaving today’s parents anxious and confused in their new roles. The earlier form of a larger family offered its members more experience as they grew up with other children.

Another factor contributing to the decrease in family size is the increasing absence of adults other than parents living in the home. In the 1920s, more than 50 percent of American households had at least one other adult living in the home—grandparents, aunts, or uncles. It was common for young families to begin married life living with their own parents. Before the most recent economic downturn, only about 3 to 4 percent of homes had multi generations or extended family; this figure has increased recently as foreclosures and other economic hardship have forced changes in living arrangements. If families include grandparents today, they are likely to be single-parent families that have moved into the grandparents’ home for economic and social support—clearly a role reversal of the old pattern of living with extended family, when younger families were helping maintain the older generation. More than half of young men between ages 18 and 25 were living in their parents’ homes in the last census. This may well reflect the delaying of marriage and tight economic times.

Or grandparents may have included their grandchildren in their families but the children’s parents are not present, as is the case for more than 6 percent of American children.

The Census Bureau notes the phenomenon of a marked increase in the number of people living alone—people older than 55 and people in their 20s. In the past, these people would have been members of an extended family household. This implies that the smaller nuclear family is without the additional supportive resources of time, money, and companionship that other adults in the household could offer.

It is somewhat difficult to get an accurate reading on family composition today. When reading the results of the latest census, we can see that families and their composition are far too complex for simple classification or counting. For example, families that are counted as being headed by a single father often include a female adult who is likely functioning in many ways as the other parent. And of those classified as unmarried cohabiting partners, two-fifths are also likely to include children.

Again, the most important aspect of considering demographics is to realize how much change families are undergoing, and often without additional supports for stressed parents.

2-2e. Increased Rate of Social Change

Parents in a relatively static society encounter less difficulty than those in a society where social change occurs rapidly and drastically, as in our country for the past four decades and more. A generation gap develops when adults play increasingly complex roles in a world for which their own parents could not prepare them, and when parents try to help their own children face a world they cannot yet imagine. It is not a comfortable world where parents can simply produce children like themselves but a new world where parents are unsure about their best actions and decisions—a world of challenge and potential, but also of stress, for today’s fathers and mothers.

Parents in a relatively static society encounter less difficulty than those in a society where social change occurs rapidly and drastically, as in our country for the past four decades and more. A generation gap develops when adults play increasingly complex roles in a world for which their own parents could not prepare them, and when parents try to help their own children face a world they cannot yet imagine. It is not a comfortable world where parents can simply produce children like themselves but a new world where parents are unsure about their best actions and decisions—a world of challenge and potential, but also of stress, for today’s fathers and mothers.

The rate of change is dizzying as upheaval occurs in every major institution in society. Major discontinuities in relationships among people develop as changing values, laws, and norms of behavior result in a different way of life.

Beginning with the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the Vietnam War (and the turmoil from groups opposing andsupporting it), society has continued to be beleaguered by anxieties:

Disillusionment with government leaders with questionable practices or moral beliefs

Worry about the educational system

Turmoil in the world overseas and at home

Fears of terrorist attacks at home as well as abroad

Worry about keeping children safe at school and in the community

Concerns about environmental deterioration

Fears about drugs invading our lives

Concerns about diseases without cures becoming epidemic

Worry about what inflation, debt, and pollution mean to the future

Beginning with the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the Vietnam War (and the turmoil from groups opposing and supporting it), society has continued to be beleaguered by anxieties: sexual activity, contraception, abortion—all are different now. There are new lifespan events, created by the need to respond to increased longevity and the psycho social identity adjustments within ever more complex family arrangements. Just imagine the mental adjustments that have to be made by a grandparent raising his or her own grandchild in the absence of parents (see Figure 2-12).

Playing the dual roles of parent and grandparent is something for which there is no model; perhaps this promotes role conflict and additional family stress.

All this change makes parents unsure of themselves, and they worry about almost everything that touches their lives and their children’s.They worry about whether they are too permissive or expecting too much in a changing world; they worry about the influence of television,video games, and violence and the quality of education; most of all, they worry because they are making decisions alone—they are reluctantto seek advice from others.

All this change makes parents unsure of themselves, and they worry about almost everything that touches their lives and their children’s.They worry about whether they are too permissive or expecting too much in a changing world; they worry about the influence of television,video games, and violence and the quality of education; most of all, they worry because they are making decisions alone—they are reluctant to seek advice from others.he idea that “women should return to their traditional roles in society,” and 64 percent also rejected the idea that “it’s more important for a wife to help her husband’s career than to have one herself.” Clearly, change has happened too quickly for some of our values and beliefs to catch up. Families are caught in the dilemma of rapid change in very real ways. Most jobs are still designed as if there were a homemaker to provide support for a working husband, and many institutional practices assume that all children live with two biological parents. Social structure has changed rapidly; changes in social and personal values and feelings lag behind.

2-2f. Child-Centered Society

More than one expert has pointed out how the child’s role in the family and in society has evolved over the centuries, particularly in current times in the Western world. In earlier times, a child was measured harshly by the yardstick of the adult world and restricted to fit into it.

But in modern America, a child is the darling of his or her world (see Figure 2-13). Whole industries have sprung up to cater to children’swishes—toys, children’s television, designer clothing, and breakfast cereals. The efforts of psychologists and other researchers are directed more toward telling parents what they should and should not be doing to nurture their children. A large part of current research and thinking concerning child development is now available in forms popular and technical. Bookstores have many shelves of books of advice to parents—often suggesting conflicting views of a variety of experts (Hull, 2003). Parenting magazines, blogs, and websites abound.

Parent education classes are available in almost every community. Anyone who has taught a parent education class has heard two frequent reactions from the parents involved. One is to marvel that parents in earlier times did an acceptable job of parenting without possessing this knowledge: “My mother raised five kids, and we all turned out pretty well, and she never even heard of Erikson or Piaget!” The other reaction is from the parent who concentrates, with guilt, on what he or she has already done or missed the chance to do. “If only I’d known this five years ago.” Whether parents decide on their own that they could have done a better job or whether the society around them does,the result is that parents come out as the “bad guys” in a culture that centers on the child.

Many educators have noted the increasing tendency of parents today to center their attention solely on their children, doing everything in their power to protect and control their children’s lives toward guaranteed success. So-called “helicopter parents” may have taken the child-centered society to an extreme that may not be healthy for optimum child development.

It should also be noted, ironically, that alarming figures suggest our rhetoric may be more child centered than our practices. Children’s Defense Fund (2012) notes that the United States—first among industrialized countries in gross domestic product, the number of millionaires and billionaires, health and military technology, and military exports and defense spending—is twenty-second in rates of low birth weight, twenty-ninth in infant mortality, and last in the relative number of children in poverty and in protecting our children against gun violence. These facts make us question the genuineness of our so-called child-centered society.

2-2g. Stress in Modern Living

A generation ago, it seemed that shorter workweeks due to modern technology would make life easier for many families. Unfortunately, that dream was never realized. Today, adults are working harder than ever. According to a recent study, the average workweek jumped from under 41 hours in 1973 to nearly 47 hours today, with many professional and higher-level jobs demanding 50 or more hours each week. A Wall Street Journal study found that almost all top executives were working 10 or more hours a day and that nearly one in five was working 12 or more hours. As parents feel overloaded at work, their emotional well-being suffers (Galinsky et al., 2001; Brownfield, 2001). It is no wonder that there seems to be so much stress on the family and individuals when the adults are spending so much time competing to keep their jobs in a time of employment insecurity. Much of this stress is related to economic changes: declines in real wages, demands for amore highly skilled and educated workforce, increasing technology creating competition for jobs, and an increased cost of raising children.Parents may not have real choices about the time spent in work and apart from family.

Obviously, the fallout affects adults and children under such conditions. It creates a parental time deficit when parents spend more timeearning a living, and the resulting overload and exhaustion mean they do not do not have time to parent their children (see Figure 2-14).

The UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families has spent the past four years observing families to examine the intersection between family life and work. Finding that parents and children live apart at least five days a week—reuniting only for a few hours at night—there searchers suggest that the nonstop pace seems to erode families from within, resulting in playtime, conversation, and intimacy falling by the wayside. Most families have no unstructured time (News-Press, 2005). In her study of how children perceive their parents’ negotiation of work and family life, Galinsky (1999) found that the quantity of time mothers and fathers have with children matters a great deal. When children spend more time with their parents on workdays and non workdays, they see their parents as putting their family first.Nevertheless, many children mention that the time they spend with their parents feels rushed and hectic, and they comment on the lack of focus from many parents, indicating that families today need to find ways of getting out from under the stress to make changes that will benefit all.
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Diversity Trends In Families [CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4]

Diversity Trends In Families [CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4]

While children spend a great deal of time in your care, their family and family life continues to be the most influential factor. Educators must be prepared to recognize, respect, and positively support each and every child in their care. Families come in all shapes and sizes. The traditional nuclear family (mom, dad, kids) is no longer the norm. The families of the children in your care may have very different structures, values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors, and lifestyles you may not be familiar with.

For example, some children may live with a single parent, a relative, a blended family, or a traditional family who have different values, customs, beliefs, cultural behaviors and lifestyles from your own. It is important to be a culturally competent early childhood professional and create an environment that is supportive of each and every child and family. As our classrooms and society continues to diversify, you must consider the actual situations of the children and families. This week’s discussion will increase your awareness of several different family structures that could be present in your classroom. You will use your knowledge and experience to describe how to best support these families. To prepare for this week’s discussion, please read the Knoph & Swick (2008) article, as well as Chapter 2 in the Gestwicki course text, focusing specifically on the families described beginning on Page 23. Additionally, please use at least two sources to support your response.

For this discussion, you are to write a response from the perspective of either a teacher, early childhood administrator, or other early childhood professional of your choosing. Please write on one role that best aligns with your career interests and goals. After you have read through the descriptions of families in your textbook, choose one family to be the focus of your discussion. Be sure to explicitly state which family you are focusing on by writing the child’s name in the subject line of your discussion post. Taking respect for diversity and cultural competence in early childhood education into consideration, address the following discussion prompts:

Provide a summary of the family structure and identify the types of diversity within their family.

Analyze what makes their situation challenging and discuss how this impacts their family.

Develop five strategies to best support the child in your care, including how you will support the family. Also, please incorporate specific action steps within these strategies. Action steps are what you will actually do in your role to support the child and their family. For example, one suggestion might be, “As the caregiver of Joshua Stein (Gestwicki, 2013, p. 24), I could suggest, or encourage the family to….”
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Write a brief synthesis and summary of the 2 two articles.

Write a brief synthesis and summary of the 2 two articles.

Assignment must contain all answers to following 4 questions.

1.Research at least two articles on the topic of the strategic importance of cloud  computing in business organizations. 

2.Write a brief synthesis and summary of the 2 two articles. 

3.How are the topics of the two articles related?  

4.What information was relevant and why?

Provide the references in your responses.

Your post should be 300 words long
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Advantages Of Using Nano Server

Advantages Of Using Nano Server

Name two or three advantages of using Nano Server with your Windows 2016 Server. What tools are the most important to you to install and manage it? Do you think it should be required that it be installed? If so, why? If not, why?
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Report 2

Report 2

i would like to write report about following point

the role of Health care administrator in

1- Conducted urgent meeting

2- Staff attendance

3- Health care informatics and staff training for direct patient care

4- Conducted staff education session for staff nursing providing direct patient care

5- Coordinate staff education and teaching session for the nursing

6- Conducted staff resident evaluation required according to hospital policy

7- set-up strategic plan and project

the report will be two pages with APA styles and references minimal of 4
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Fsmt405 Week 3 Forum And Responses

Fsmt405 Week 3 Forum And Responses

Week 3: LODD – Reading Buildings and Conditions

Review the NIOSH Publication No. 2014-120: Preventing Deaths and Injuries to Fire Fighters by Establishing Collapse Zones at Structure Fires and NIOSH – F2013-4:Two Career Lieutenants Killed and Two Career Fire Fighters Injured Following a Flashover at an Assembly Hall Fire—Texas

Did the conclusions in this report offer recommendations for future prevention of similar incidents?

What relation did established regulations and standards have to the events surrounding the fatality?

How do collapse zone considerations impact fireground operations and what is the ISO’s role in the process?

1

In this week’s forum the topic at hand describes the LODD of two career Lieutenants and the injury of two firefighters in 2013 recurred in Texas. The conclusion of the report does in fact recommend sixteen solution to prevent future accidents such as the one that happened on February 15, 2013 to happen again. All the recommendations listed in the report were great and I will summarize some of them to give you an idea.

One of the recommendations was that the fire department should use risk management principles at all structure fires. After witnessing closed doors and no vehicles in the parking lot, the officer in charge should have not risk any lives to protect the structure itself. At that time the more experience personal, which could have been the officer, incident commander, or safety officer, should have made the decision of not entering the structure due to the already compromised building.

Another recommendation listed was about understanding the fire strategy and tactics: being able to maneuver and communicate with crew members as a team is an important task. Just to play devil’s advocate, the probationary firefighter lost his partner due to not keeping constant communication. On another note if I had limited air, I would not be doing unnecessary talking either. Understanding the dynamics of ventilating the fire and the reason you have to communicate and coordinate between the fire-ground and the roof teams played an important role in this incident. Poor guidance from the officers in charge led to the teams being trapped during the flashover. A roof team should have been in place coordinating ventilation to allow smoke and hot gases to escape while the ground team fights the fire with water.

The last recommendation I will speak on is number eight, which talks about pre-incident planning and inspections of buildings. Conducting a pre-plan of the buildings in your area is a valuable key in my book. It helps by familiarizing yourself along with everybody on your crew. Together ideas could be formed on battling the fire ahead of time and figuring out the best outcomes. In the report, it claimed a pre-plan was conducted but wasn’t available on the night of the fire. I think that was just poor record keeping and could be easily fixed. The ISO job is continuously monitor the safety conditions and fire behavior while stopping anything that can jeopardize or put firefighters and emergency personal at risk.

NIOSH. (2014, May 20). Two Career Lieutenants Killed and Two Career Fire Fighters Injured Following a Flashover at an Assembly Hall Fire—Texas. Retrieved from NIOSH: https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/security-and-global-studies-common/EDMG/FSMT405/NIOSH%20-%20F2013-4_Flashover%20LODD.pdf

2

Preventing death and injuries to firefighters by establishing collapse zones at structure fires:

In the report NIOSH outlines data from the United States Fire Administration that during a twelve year period there were 1230 line of duty firefighter deaths with 142 of those deaths attributed to structural collapse (Loflin et al., 2014, p. 1). The most common practice taught throughout the fire service in mitigating structural collapse is to establish zones. This zone is 1 1/2 the size of the structure. However, it is important to note that other areas that must be accounted for during a structural fire are structures that may be higher than the load bearing walls of the building such as chimneys.

NIOSH recommends that every fire department utilize NFPA 1620 guideline in establishing their pre-incident survey standards. Conducting pre-incident surveys can identify areas that may be prone to collapse such as parapets and cantilevered walls. Some states require a placard system for identifying certain types of construction. This is usually to identify whether a commercial structure is of a lightweight truss design in either the roof, floor, or combination of each.

On scene the incident commander should immediately identify a collapse zone based on the conditions of the fire and continuously update the zone based on the structural integrity of the building. The fire ground may not always allow for apparatus to be outside of a 1 1/2 the distance of the structure, however it is a common practice to place apparatus and personnel on the corners of the structure. There are several recommendations given for on scene management of structural collapse, but the most important is that the incident commander delegate management of the safety zone to a safety officer.

NIOSH also recommends that a post incident survey be conducted to determine what procedures worked and how to improve them, or which procedures did not work and need to be replaced.

Two career fire lieutenants killed and two firefighters injured in flashover:

NIOSH makes several recommendations in report F2013-04. They are all equally important, but only the core issues will be covered.

The first recommendation is that the incident commander must make a risk versus reward decision. Interior attack inside of a large open commercial structure, fire self venting from the roof, no sprinklers, and a confirmation of no victims inside the structure should have been a defensive operation. Ventilation of a structure a fire attack must be coordinated. This structure had already self vented and crews had opened doors. PPV fans were put into operation fueling the fire. Initial fire crews made entry into the structure and did carry thermal imaging devices in order to determine the seed of the fire, or thermal conditions.

This may have alerted crews to the potential of an impending flashover. Commercial structure fires such as this one typical rely on a mutual aid agreement. If this is the case an IAP must be emplace. This IAP must be understood by all departments on the mutual aid agreement. This is the first step in proper communication on the fire ground. A complete size up of the facility must be conducted every time of the entire facility even if that means driving around it. Having a MAYDAY SOG is absolutely imperative and that every department including dispatch has one. A dedicated communications system must be emplace to properly manage and monitor MAYDAY situations. If the conditions exist to declare MAYDAY it must be done. Too many departments develop a negative stigma of firefighters who have declared MAYDAY. Individual department should have SOG based on NFPA recommendations that cover the use of thermal imagers, proper maintenance of PPE, pre-incident surveys, fire ground tactics such as the deployment of back up attack lines for egress, and RIT.

References

Loflin, M. E., Tarley, J., & Lutz, V. (2014). Preventing deaths and injuries to fire fighters by establishing collapse zones at structure fires.

NISOH, Two career lieutenants killed and two career … (2014, May 20). Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201304.pdf
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