Family and Consumer Science
From the primordial times, the term ‘Family’ has been viewed as a social institution established by the act of marriage. The term ‘Family’ was conceptualized is inclusive of individuals related to the wedding, decent adoption and affiliated kin (Strong & Cohen, 2013).The concept of a Family is usually set upon legal terms where both spouses in matrimony sign a contract that defines their specific obligations, responsibilities, and rights. Family as a social institution has undergone a series of change with regards to its structure. This is due to the continuous evolution of the society’s values and beliefs. Consequently, the term ‘post-modern family’ has come into use as families exhibit multiplicity as portrayed by new or altered forms of families.
the heydays, marriage was perceived to be a unique entity that symbolized a
covenant made between man and woman. Indeed, marriage was regarded as a
significant transition of life that would be marked with celebrations and
merrymaking. Additionally, marriage entailed an elaborate ceremony, witnessed
and legitimated by others after which a set of expectations, obligations, rights,
and privileges were bestowed on the newlyweds (Wardle, 2016). However, over the
past Century, the definition of marriage has substantially changed as a result
of the social and economic alterations.
Tremendous decline in marriage over the past half a Century ranks among
the most profound demographic transformations in the American demographic
history (Strong & Cohen, 2013). Amid the massive transformation and
variation of culture and beliefs, the term ‘marriage’ continues to change with
regards to whom to marry and the number of spouses that one ought to get
married. Admittedly, nowadays most young people postponed marriage as they
willingly accept cohabitation as an alternative form of union.
Unlike the ancient days where marriage was strictly between man and woman, different societies have allowed same-gender marriage. Admittedly, gay marriage was prohibited and considered as a taboo in most cultures. However, this analogy is slowly changing as witnessed by the unprecedented increasing rate of same-gender marriage, by 80% between the years 2000 and 2010, in different parts of the world. Concurrently, divorce among married couples has flawed the ancient belief of marriage being a long-term covenant between spouses. The rate at which couples are filing for a divorce is alarming and worrying. Most of these divorce cases have stemmed out from social, emotional or financial disagreements. As a result of this, broken families have taken the order of the day thereby resulting to the skyrocketing number of single distressed mothers.
Family as a social institution has evolved as a consequence of the change in its structure and functions. Furthermore, our ideologies of what makes up a family continue to change overtime. A vast majority of people are more accepting of failed marriages, divorce, single mother/fatherhood and cohabitation (Strong & Cohen, 2013). In comparison to the older days where a family was all about self-sacrifice, the current family only exists where both spouses feel that their rights are well adhered to. According to a demographic research (Wardle, 2016); approximately 86% of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980’s stayed in the marriage and were happier when interviewed five years later. When questioned, 60% of the once unhappily married couple rated their marriage as either being ‘satisfactory’ or ‘less satisfying’ (Wardle, 2016). This is clear evidence that most of the ancient marriages were set upon the ground cultural rules of sustaining a family. Moreover, families were maintained, and the children lived in a household that had both parents. However, the current turmoil in immorality cases such as infidelities, physical and emotional abuse has threatened the mere existence of a family as a social unit (Hareven, 2013). The current trend of toxic marriage has led to couples forsaking their marital commitment to one another as they pursue their freedom in courtrooms. Eventually, hapless children are left to silently suffer as they end up lacking the full support and love from either of the parents who won’t have custody over them. Furthermore, most family households have foregone the idea to having children, which has further weakened the institution of marriage that is currently viewed as an institution with excessive individualism and self-indulgence. The family decline is also attributed to factors such as same-sex marriages, a death of a spouse, cohabitation, and postponement of the wedding (VanOrman & Scommegna, 2016). ). The unprecedented increase in family decline is a clear indication of a “truce in the war over family”
Social conditions that impact families
Amid the fast-paced rate of technological advancements, the creation of a family is a piece of cake. In the ancient days, marriage was the only entity that served as a foundation for a growing family. However, due to the current cultural evolution and variation, a person can decide to start his/her family tree by utilizing today’s biotechnology techniques (Hareven, 2013). Most people are currently opting to go through an assisted reproduction technology processes to have children of their own.
According to research, millions and millions of people worldwide are undergoing procedures such as donor insemination, in-vitro fertilization, gestational surrogacy and embryo transfers all in an attempt to have a family (Hareven, 2013). As an alternative form of having children, most people are forsaking the idea of getting married. Therefore, assisted reproduction technologies have resulted in many single-parent families thereby denying the children the rights to having a complete traditional family set-up. Economic factors such as economic recession and financial crisis serve as a significant determinant of household creation (Strong & Cohen, 2013). This is because most couples have decided to postpone marriages, or having children due to the harsh economic times (Hareven, 2013). Additionally, most people are prioritizing education as opposed to going into marriage. Unlike before where men and women did not mind about their education status, most men and women are currently opting to spend more years in school with the aim of pursing an honorable certificate and afterward, a prestigious career. This has ultimately led to an increase in 27-70-year-old unmarried, single women and men (VanOrman & Scommegna). The current digital era has also contributed to high rate of broken marriages as a result of the internet being a source of family conflicts, defined cyber-bullying, cyber-infidelity and online addictions among others.
is ultimately clear that marriage and family
ideologies have historically evolved in our society. In comparison to the past
where marriage was a holy union between couples, this entity has been marred
with cohabitation, divorce, and single-parenthood. An ideology such as same-sex
marriages has resulted in a new definition of marriage with regards of who to
marry. Nevertheless, race and ethnic diversity are continually leading to more
interracial and interethnic marriages. In essence, marriage and family
ideologies are bound to evolve with time as a result of an endless change of
culture and beliefs.
Hareven, T. K. (Ed.). (2013). Transitions: The family and the life course in historical perspective.
Strong, B., & Cohen, T. F. (2013). The marriage and family experience: Intimate relationships in a changing society. Cengage
VanOrman, A. G., & Scommegna, P. (2016). Understanding the Dynamics of Family Change in the United States. Population Reference Bureau.
Wardle, L. D. (2016). Marriage Is the Best Measure of Society’s Commitment to Child Well-Being.