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Is The Decline Of The Traditional Family a National Crisis?

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  • Category: Family

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For the last few decades, the debate about the breakdown of the traditional family has taken the centre stage in social science.  There have been all kinds of arguments over the issue with uncertainties over the exact cause and the impact of the receding traditional family. While some are arguing that this recession can be attributed to the breakdown of family values, there are others who maintain that there are structural factors that have contributed to the change as families try to adapt to the changing environment.

The traditional American family has changed in composition and roles of the different family members.   The traditional American family was composed of a married couple, their children and the close relatives.  With time the family composition changed to include the nuclear family centered on a married couple and their children. Family members assumed their respective roles with the male acting as the breadwinner while the female stayed at home caring for the children and for the home.

The modern family has changed in composition and family roles.  The modern American family has disintegrated to one parent with one kid or a married couple with no children. This change has also seen the emergence of same sex marriage which completely alters the initial purpose of having a family which is to procreate and enable the perpetuation of the society. This is a quiet crisis boiling in our society.   The social life has changed from social centered life to an individual centered life. The changing traditional family is a quite crisis that will soon explode to a national crisis.

Family change as way to adapt to the changing environment

One of the reasons that have been attributed to the changing nature of family in the society is the changing social life.  The nature of life in the modern society has demanded a change in social life as well. The traditional family was defined by the economic nature of the society.  As the society changes, the economic nature of the society have been changing as well and the family   has been forced to adapt to this change.

 In the traditional society, the male could meet all the economic needs of the family.  The cost of living was still low and   what the father earned was enough to sustain the needs of the family.  This enabled the female to stay at home and attend to the needs of the family.

This defined the traditional family. The male was the breadwinner while the female stayed at home caring for the home and the children.  This family provided the appropriate growth atmosphere for the children who grew within the   bonds of matrimony   with the father meting the economic needs of the family while the mothers cared for children at home.  This family was everlasting and separation was possible with the death of one parent.

With the cost of living rising, both male and female have been forced to engage in economic activities in order to complement what is earned by the other.  The change in economic system is partly to blame for the change in the family.  Increase in wages has not matched the rising cost of living.  The father cannot earn enough for the family.  Families have responded to this change in many ways.  While some families have seen both the mother and the father engage in economic activities, others have responded by decreasing   the size of the family by either having few children or even none.

The change in the family has been responding to increased interaction of people in the world.  American is a land of many cultures and one of the social institutions that have been affected by mix up of this culture is the family.  As the society try to define the accepted family amid the mixture of these cultures, the traditional family values have been lost.  The modern American family is seen as an accepted way of life in the society.  It is family that can be accommodated in all cultures.

Decline of the traditional family is hurting the society

The changing nature of the family has thrown the social fabric into disarray.  As the building blocks of the society, the family plays an important role in the creation of a cohesive family.   As the family change, the society is changing as well. The traditional American family was a source of security not only for children but for other member of the family as well.  A cohesive family in turn provided for cohesive society which guaranteed security for all the members of that society.

The negative effect of the decline in traditional family has seen a disruption of the normal life of the society. Children can no longer grow in the context of a matrimonial family with a number of them growing in the street.  The divorce rate has been around 50 percent for the last 20 years and the recent decline in divorcee is attributed to the fact that there are fewer people who are bothering to get married.

More than 35 percent of all children are born to single mothers outside the family bond.  Almost the same figure live separated from their biological father. Under the current family arrangement, less that 50 percent of children spend their entire childhood in an intact family or with both parents present.

Children have been affected by the   receding traditional family more than the other members of the family.   Recent studies into the effect of changing families in America have shown that children who grow up in single families have less chances of making it in life.  They are more likely to engage in criminal activities   and   are more prone to behavioral an emotional disorders.

Single parent children   are likely to achieve lower grades in class compared to children who grow up in a complete family. They have less chances of making it to college. They exhibit worse school attendance records and have a higher rate of drop out rates compared to children who grow up in complete families.   They have also indicated increased risk of use of drugs and teen motherhood. However this does not mean that children from single families are bound to fail but they go through a lot of struggles in their life compared to children in full family.

 But this cannot be stunning than the married couples who do not fulfill the mission of the family which is to procreate for the growth of the society.  Same sex marriage is beyond the normal definition of a family and therefore it cannot be taken as a family but a convenient cohabitation arrangement.

Is the family a social institution in crisis?

To start with, we should understand that family is the building block of the society. Without the family we don’t have the society and without the society then we will not be having a nation.  The family is a one of the social fabric that holds the society together.  Therefore we would be expecting that despite the changes taking place in the society, the family should remain as one of the fabric holding the society together.

The changing economic nature of the society should not be the reasons for the change we are experiencing.   There are some families where the mother and the father are both employed but they are still intact providing a normal growth atmosphere for the children.  Daycares should not assume the function of primary caregivers for the children or be the cause of breakup of the family since they can play the role played by both parents.  Television, movies and video games cannot substitute the love children should be getting from their parents.

Children need the presence of both parents in order to grow up. We should recognize that male and female are different in nature and nurture.  This difference is also reflected in the way they parent.   Both parents have a contribution to make in the growth of their children. One parent cannot play the role that is played by the other.

But on the other hand we should not criticize the recession of the traditional family without looking at the facts that have led to this change.   The increased brutality against women has forced them to live under the shadow of their males for a long time.  The current rise of single motherhood has been traced to the result of women freeing themselves from the bond of men that has held them for a long time.   It shows a gender struggle for equity in the society.  But this is taking place at the expenses of the children who suffers most.


 The traditional family has been declining at an alarming rate.   The family is crumbling before us while there is nothing that we can do about the change. The decline in traditional family is a complex process that has come like any other evolution taking place in different social and economic aspects of the society.   The change can be taken as an evolution in which the family is trying to find its rightful place in the society to something better acceptable to all genders and in harmony with social life. However we have failed to open our eyes wide and recognize how important the family is to the society. The family makes the society which makes the nation which in turn makes the world we live in.  If we see like we have outgrown the traditional family, perhaps we will be in for a shock and we need a reawakening. It is the future society that we are destroying. Whatever change that is taking place in the evolution of the family, should it take place at the expense of our children?

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