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The Break Down of The American Family

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The family composition of the twenty-first century is quite different from the days of “Leave It to Beaver” (Bob Mosher) and “Happy Days,” (Garry Marshall) when mothers did not work outside the home. Instead, they were “stay at home-makers.” Back then this was more acceptable in order to provide their children with a safe and nourishing environment. My mother was very loving to all her children she would say things like “a mother is the cornerstone that holds the family together” and “my love for you continues to grow every day.” What a great feeling knowing a “mother’s love brings happiness and peace” (My Mom, Ana Rosa Baez) within the family household. To this date, I remember my mother making sure that all her little chickens “the kids” were well taken care of.

Nowadays, the “American Generations” have become diverse and no longer consist of married couples. Our culture has seen the rise of “same-sex unions, parenting, women choosing to remain single yet have a child, and blended families as divorced couples remarry.” Basically, the definition of “family” has changed dramatically from the “Pre-Vietnam” days when American households were predominantly made up of a traditional married couple with one or more children. Many citizens still believe in the traditional ways but there are many that question them self-asking “where are the family values?” My mother would say “we should never judge others because we are not God and God will continue to love everyone in this world.” (My Mom, Ana Rosa Baez)

In addition, the last few decades’ several social analysts and psychologists, social analysts and especially religious leaders have concluded that “family life is in serious trouble.” (The New York Times, Natalie Angier) Core family values have been negatively impacted in the wake of the changing social way of life. Divorce is also another key factor in the household composition diminishing in the United States. Those days of “Until Death Do Us Part,” (Catholic Wedding Ceremony) (Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury) do not exist anymore in the 21st century. There are many reasons why married couples decided to split. My mom would always tell her children that “a relationship is about having good communication with your spouse. A person should not be so demanding excepting favors in return. The key to a healthy union is having trust between each other. In other words, if you are not ready for marriage don’t get married at all.

There have been so many changes in our society over the past 40 years. The “domino effect of the traditional family in our country has become broken.” (The Huffington Post, John W. Whitehead) The majority of two parents now both work outside the home. Presently there are households headed by single mothers and many children have been brought up in a daycare setting while parents work in this demanding environment to afford a child’s daily needs. I have to say that my brothers and sisters were so fortunate to have a father who was capable and willing to work two jobs to meet his monthly financial obligation to his family. I remember my dad’s words, “studying hard in school so you could have opportunities that I was not able to obtain.” I made it a priority not to let my father and mother down because education was “a privilege and an honor,” to do great things in the future. Growing up many women have pursued a higher education then went on to successful careers and have postponed childbearing since they have an option to do so.

Being a parent is a job that needs to be taken seriously. There were days my mother would make crazy statements like “there is no such thing as a return policy,” (my mom, Ana Rosa Baez) telling us she can give your kids back when things go wrong.” I believe it’s imperative that citizens view that having children is a great responsibility. A mother and a father are the ones that provide unconditional love but also give them a moral compass to teach them integrity, trust compassion, and empathy. These are some of the countless factors that parents need to raise emotionally healthy children by safeguarding their development and ability to function in the world. The advent sports, pressure to go to college, and the competition for good grades has also been a major point with the breakdown of the traditional family. That is has greatly shifted how families operate within today’s culture. There is far less time being spent as a family. The pressures that parent feel to provide for their children in a society that has come to value material items. The latest technology, clothing, cars, colleges, etc… is also felt by the children.

Today more and more children do not have a dinner together as a family unit. Children are left alone in many instances, to their own devices as to getting home, eating and doing their homework unsupervised. Technology is also playing a large part in the changing of the family unit. There has been a significant increase in teenage drinking, the use of illegal drugs, sex and teenage pregnancies. These problems are contributing to the further breakdown of the family unit and society as a whole. Divorce has created an enormous amount of single parent’s families where the women are the head of the household. Statistics show that many of these individuals are pressed for money to make ends meet. The family support systems have collapse the unit when there are no consistent parenting skills from one or both parents. Many families are completely fatherless with the mother responsible for the entire job of providing for and supporting the children.

It’s essential to raise emotional and psychological healthy children. Parents must provide them with unconditional love, safety, building their self-esteem, encouraging self-confidence and teaching them self-respect at an early age. Children need positive encouragement, by telling them they are loved, wanted and they can achieve their dreams. By raising children with all this in mind we are also teaching them to solve problems in life. The healthy development of children at an early age is the necessary foundation in children learning to be independent and honest young adults for the future. American parents need to discipline their children by explaining why their behavior is not appropriate. Healthy parenting is to take away privileges or give a child a “time out” when they have something wrong. Again, parents are the most critical part of a child’s life. They are the ones who have the power to decide how a child should be raised. What schools their children will attend, the community where they will live, who their friends will be and what they can do during their free time. It’s a parent’s goal to raise honest, compassionate and hardworking kids.

Currently, in our society, we have seen the rise of the “latchkey kids” who go home to empty houses as both parents must work to make ends meet and sustain a certain lifestyle of living. Putting a child as young as three months old in daycare is no longer abnormal. In many instances, the norm is that children are in daycare or after school programs. Today more and more families do not have dinner together as a family unit. Children are left in many instances, to their own electronic babysitters as they get home from school and unsupervised. I truly miss those one on one moments sharing quality time with my parents. Technology has taken over this world, playing a large part in the family unit. Research has shown these problems are “contributing to the breaking down of the family unit and society.” Statistics have stated that “households are pressed for money and the lack of consistent parenting skills has increased teenage drinking, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancies in the family system.”

In closing, today’s parents encounter far more serious challenges in raising children and coping with careers, relationship, financial issues along with aging grandparents. Social media and society have become very materialistic as parents tackle these issues when there is no support from the community, extended family and government so they could be able to navigate a different course from where we are in society right now. In the past generation people were less likely to get divorced than they are now. In fact, even some couples who have been married for years are now considering divorce. Many people stay in a relationship with someone they don’t love because they are afraid if they will not find someone else. Many times, people gamble into marriage having no connection or love. This also factors why the divorce rate is so high. Ideally marriage is supposed to be about two people serving each other and loving each other as themselves. Being a good husband or a good wife is not a talent people have automatically. It’s not something you are born with. It’s something that is learned as long as they are willing to commit and learn together.

I have to say my parents were very humble growing up not giving into what every child had in our community. These words have provided me with the foundation of being a good parent, “if you don’t need it, why buy it just to satisfy someone else’s needs.” In saying so, that life of the “Haves and Have Nots” and “Keeping up with the Jones” brings more destruction to the family values in society. “Why do families today believe it’s important to live beyond their means?” “Who are you trying to impress yourself or others?”

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The Break Down of the American Family. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
“The Break Down of the American Family.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
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