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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From "Father Knows Best" to "Modern Family"


       Some of the most interesting statistics that have come out of the 2010 Census was the changing face of families today.  While we all laugh at the best comedy on TV today, Modern Family, it does show what changes families have gone through since the 1950’s and 1960’s.

     One of the most profound changes is in when people marry today and the size of families. According to the Census:

“The median age at first marriage increased to 28.2 for men and 26.1 for women in 2010, an increase from 26.8 and 25.1 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This increase is a continuation of a long-term trend that has been noted since the mid-1950s. In addition, the overall percentage of adults who were married declined to 54.1 percent in 2010 from 57.3 percent in 2000.
     According to America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2010, the average household size declined to 2.59 in 2010, from 2.62 people in 2000. This is partly because of the increase in one-person households, which rose from 25 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010, more than double the percentage in 1960 (13 percent).
     The percentage of households headed by a married couple who had children under 18 living with them declined to 21 percent in 2010, down from 24 percent in 2000.
    The percentage of children under 18 living with two married parents declined to 66 percent in 2010, down from 69 percent in 2000.
     In 2010, 23 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother, up from 21 percent in 2000. In 2007, before the recession, stay-at-home mothers were found in 24 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15.
   Between 1980 and 1994, the birth rate for unmarried women ages 15-44 increased from 29 to 46 per 1,000. Between 1995 and 2003, the rate has fluctuated little, ranging from 43 to 45 per1,000.”

          With the increasing age of marrying comes the increasing age of when women have their first child.   According to a report of the National Council of Heath Statistics “from 1970 to 2006 the proportion of first births to women aged 35 years and over increased nearly eight times. In 2006, about 1 out of 12 first births were to women aged 35 years and over compared with 1 out of 100 in 1970.”
For one thing, more American women are exiting their childbearing years today without having had any children. This is especially true of highly educated women, Bianchi said. If they do have children, highly educated women tend to have fewer than they said they wanted when they were younger, researchers have found.

       For one thing, more American women are exiting their childbearing years today without having had any children. This is especially true of highly educated women, according to sociologist Suzanne Bianchi. If they do have children, highly educated women tend to have fewer than they said they wanted when they were younger, researchers have found. Currently in the U.S. among women ages 40 to 44, 20 percent have never had a child. That’s double the percentage for this same age group 30 years ago. The trend is even stronger — the percentage rises to 27 percent — for women in this age group with graduate or professional degrees.

       According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “between 8 and 10 million children are being raised by gay parents.  In a study published this month in the journal Demography, Michael Rosenfeld concludes that children being raised by same-sex couples have nearly the same educational achievement as children raised by married heterosexual couples.  With the increasing acceptance of gay marriage and the development of in vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers the number of children raised in gay households will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years.”

     The last changing family fact that I want to highlight is the “blended” family.  With over 50% of marriages ending in divorce and 60% of second marriages ending in divorce and 65% of remarriages involving children from a previous marriage the old concept of a nuclear family is being changed to the blended family.  Different styles of child rearing and change of birth order can cause major issues with the success of blending children from two families.  The Brady Bunch is not the typical family situation for a blended family.

        In Howard County we have two valuable resources for families.  The Howard County Office of Children’s Services has many resources for families and children.  The second is the Family and Children’s Services, which used to be the Family Life Center, with an office in the Wilde Lake Village Center.

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