The New 'Traditional Family' Is the Non-Traditional Family

Illustration for article titled The New 'Traditional Family' Is the Non-Traditional Family


According to recent polling by the Pew Research Center, only 46 percent of U.S. children live in households with married parents—down 15 percent since 1980 and 27 percent since 1960. Of the 54 percent of us from broken homes, 15 percent are raised by two parents (with one or both remarried), 34 percent by single parents and 5 percent without any parent in the home (this usually means, according to Pew, that the child is raised by a relative).


As Christopher Ingraham writes for The Washington Post:

...It's clear that the change is less a function of remarriages, and more due to the sharp rise in single parenting. As Emily Badger wrote last week, 41 percent of births these days are to unmarried mothers...

Researchers are in general agreement that children of unmarried parents tend to have a tougher time in life: more poverty, more instability, and more problems at school, among other things. But it's less clear what type of policy measures we might take to address these issues. As Emily noted, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to encourage mothers to stay in relationships that may be abusive or otherwise more harmful to their children's health than going it alone.

Truth is that single parenting can be more than adequate so long as—as Ingraham points out— parents have the necessary support. The concept of the "traditional family" is changing dramatically and policy should adapt with it.

And as for the emotional problems of growing up in a "non traditional" family, my parents split when I was three and you don't see me having any attachment issues. Wait, ARE YOU DONE READING? Don't go, DAD! I mean "MOM!" I mean "READER!" Don't go!

Image via Disney.


abidabi, THIEF OF JOY

I don't see divorce or single parenthood as a bad thing, probably because my parents rocked it. They've always had a friendly relationship and an excellent co-parenting relationship. We still celebrate major events together as a family, and my parents are fine together. My mom even calls my dad randomly if she's afraid a contractor is ripping her off or something (they were very traditional, and I am not terribly young).

I really think the co-parenting relationship is the big thing. Are you fucking adult enough to put away your bullshit and raise that kid as partners, even if you live separately? Because you should be. Obviously this doesn't include truly mentally ill people, but although they're over-represented in online posts I think they're really not that common in real life. A lot of acrimonious divorces I've seen are basically one or both parents being whiny babies and that's bullshit, especially if you have kids. Act like a fucking grownup, for god's sake.