Although not a major story on the evening news, the dissolution of American families is growing at an alarming rate; so much so, that its current state of existence has taken many in society by surprise. Its image is no longer modeled after the traditional two-parent household of decades past. Today, single parenting is at an all-time high and children are forced early on to accept every increasing responsibility in lieu of typical childhood.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau of Household and Family Statistics, single parents accounted for 27 percent of American households in 2000. What’s more, the rate of single mothers leaped from 500,000 to over two million between 1970 and 2000. The act of single-handedly balancing family and career continues to rise and the challenges become greater.
So, what are the causes of these extreme changes in America’s family dynamics? Some argue it is due largely in part to women taking a more active role in the workforce. Others feel the transition of divorce is another contributor. Why are women choosing the workforce more now? Is it possibly because they can no longer afford to stay at home? Perhaps the increased rate of divorce and non-traditional families contributes to the cycle of women working outside of the home. In other words, it may not necessarily be by choice, but rather by necessity. And while both arguments may provide just cause, there is yet another element that often goes unaddressed – politics.
Over the past 30 years there has been a significant increase in the government’s level of involvement in American households. Many things, both inside and outside the home, have changed with regards to families. One of the most significant changes to take place is the lack of authority parents now have compared to decades past. Physical discipline is highly frowned upon today and can often lead to criminal prosecution. While no one would ever advocate abuse, is there solid evidence that proves spanking during child rearing has permanently damaging psychological and physical effects? How much effort is the government making to ensure solid families in our society today? It is more difficult to obtain state issued identification in some states than it is to obtain a divorce. Is remediation made mandatory? And while all marriages and/or relationships are not destined for a lifetime of togetherness, where children are concerned, should there be a lifetime commitment to ensuring they are provided an environment conducive to nurturing emotional wellness and stability? Perhaps it would be highly feasible for our lawmakers to take a closer look at this great decline. Family values are not only diminishing in the inner cities, but also the suburbs. Maybe, if political involvement in family structures were more proactive as opposed to reactive, the family unit just might redeem itself.