What is the Traditional American Family?


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In the 1950's, America was shaken with reform. The era of the 'Golden Family' was born wherein people prided themselves on having the perfect, nuclear family. It consisted of one husband, one wife, and two or more children. Men worked, women cleaned, and children obeyed. Any variation from this doctrine was not accepted and considered to be inferior and damaging to the development of children. This type of family is still considered to be highly coveted by a vast number of Americans who claim that this it is the 'God-given' way of life. They claim that this is how families have always been and shall always be because it produces the healthiest offspring. But what do these traditional family values mean for American society?

Steven W. Mosher, of the Population Research Institute, writes about his experience growing up in a nuclear family. He explains that he 'caught' great appreciation for traditional family values, such as the institution of marriage; that he was born into a 'natural family' because he had a father, mother, and siblings; and that rebellious youth who demonstrate on Wall Street, unmarried couples living together, and children born into broken homes are mere concoctions of Hollywood(source:www.pop.org). In response to claims like Mosher's, Kevin Noble Maillard, law professor and writer for The New York Times, wrote that people who make statements like these, 'fail to notice obvious things as racial tension, gender discrimination, and gay bashing'. He also states that these people are caught in old-fashioned ideals and do not embrace the reality that culture evolves all the time. (source: nytimes.com)

People like Mosher advocate that these traditional family values are the foundation of American society. They claim that these values are what are seen throughout the country. However, the Williams Institute estimates that more than 6 million Americans have parents that identify within the LGBT community ' a vast number that does not fall under the category of a traditional family (source:williamsinstitute). In addition, census shows that 15 million American children, 1/3 of children in the USA, are living with only one or no parent(s) (source:www.lifesitenews.com). In total, there are more than 21 million Americans living in the US that have gay, unmarried, or single parents. Traditionalist also tend to believe that these types of households are considered to be 'broken homes' that will lead to the children having difficulties later in life. These non-traditional homes, however, tend to produce the exact opposite. Same-sex couples, for example, typically are older and more educated and do not experience such things as unplanned pregnancies(source:Penn and Teller Investigate Family Values ).

America is not made up of one set type of family. The traditional family, contrary to the belief of traditionalist, was thought up in the 1950's by television shows such as Leave it to Beaver, which shows the working man and obedient wife and children. The reality is that culture is constantly evolving and with it the definition of family. The idea of the traditional family does not exist and never has. The foundation of American society is built on family and this is a broad spectrum that includes traditional families, same-sex households, and single parents which all create a diverse and thriving society.

The nuclear family that Steven Mosher was born into is no more natural than same-sex households because they both equally make up the population of America. By writing that the 1950's era family is a 'natural family', Mosher is enforcing stigma that says that families that are different are strange and harmful. However, exactly the opposite is proven and it is therefore necessary that the word 'family' is inclusive and recognizes the fact that not one type of family leads to more successful children. That lies within the hands of the parents.

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Written By: Kimeko Neil, United States

Buy on Amazon : A book with the title "The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap".

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice