Modern Family

April 22, 2012
What is the modern day American family? Does anyone know? The concept of a family is gradually changing. There are multiple styles of parenting and different types of families, examples of variations of families could include single parents, married parents, divorced parents, never married parents and the list continues on. I grew up in a household where my parents where married but unhappy, which later resulted in my parents’ getting a divorce. After their divorce my parents became single parents. I alternated living with each parent, but ended up living with only my father.

The traditional idea of a family is evolving. In the past it was custom for a man and a woman to marry and then start a family together. Nowadays there are multiple couples that start a family and then get married, or never get married. There are couples that never get married but still live together and raise children together are comfortable and don’t need a legal document validating their relationship. This family style proves that families can function and thrive under different conditions than the family norm of marriage. Other families that defy the traditional sense of family include couples that have children from previous relationships. There are multiple variations of family styles, and family styles work best when the parents are happy and content.

There is a common perception among people that married parents are the ideal family type to raise children, however I do not necessarily see this as true. My parents were married and only remained married for thirteen years because they had children together, my sister and I. Their dissatisfaction and stress translated to their parenting. After their divorce, they became better parents after the initial shock and once we were settled. Eventually my relationship with my mother did not work out, and my father raised my sister and I as a single father. I experienced my upbringing under a transition of family styles and I came to the understanding that parenthood can reach its fullest potential in various forms that does not necessarily have to be in a married relationship.

There are many factors that can negatively affect parenting such as stress. Stress can cause the quality of parenthood to decrease significantly. “There is a widespread belief that parenting beliefs and practices are multiply determined [sic] since many issues in?uence parenting. For instance, parental stress and perceived social support each individually in?uence parenting with high levels of parenting stress ultimately leading to undesirable outcomes for children” (qtd. in Shamah 191). The stress from my parents’ marriage was negatively affecting me. My grades in school were not doing very good and my social life was suffering. My parent’s tried covering up their arguments, but their disdain for one another was clearly evident. Even as a small child I could see that circumstances were not at their best. I became worried that my parents’ would get a divorce and my anxiety negatively transferred over to my schoolwork performance. I thought that a divorce would be the worst possible solution to our family issues, however it turned out to be the right solution.

After my parents’ divorce my parents gradually became happier. They were far more content divorced than they ever were married. Once their stress was gone, they became better parents. “In general, less parenting stress was related to more positive parenting beliefs regarding the importance of parenting behaviors and more parenting stress was related to less positive parenting beliefs regarding the importance of parenting behaviors within a married population” (Shamah 196). When my parents became happier, the home atmosphere also became more positive. Less stress results in a ‘more positive parenting beliefs regarding the importance of parenting behaviors.’

When people are strained, accomplishing tasks can be daunting and even more difficult under strain and pressure. “Individuals experience parental role strain, thus, when they are unable to fulfill the parenting role in a manner that is consistent with their expectations” (Sabatelli 975). Parents feel pain when they consider themselves to be inconsistent with their expectations. Anyone would feel bad for not meeting his or her own expectations including parenting. My parents struggled with their parental role after the divorce. They both felt obligated in becoming the mom and the dad all in one. The initial transition for my parents from married to single was difficult for them as well as for my sister and I. Their stress and lack of confidence in raising two children on their own made it initially difficult for our family to be happy, however raising children under a married situation for my parents wasn’t the best option for them. My family was better off separated. After some time when everything became more placid on both sides of my family, everything slowly improved. Everyone became happier and as a result my sister and I were doing great at school and my parents were doing well at work. Sometimes the best family style for a certain couple can be separation.

There are multiple ways of parenting and family styles. “The widespread and dramatic changes in the structural characteristics of contemporary American families have encouraged family social scientists to rethink ‘the family’ as a social form, debate the characteristics and qualities of functional families, and work to dispel the myths and monolithic view of contemporary family life” (qtd. in Sabatelli 969). Individuals do not have to be married in order to start a family or to be successful parents. There are various types of families and lifestyles that are suitable for a person. I do not necessarily know what type of family I will have in the future, but I am not going to limit myself to society’s traditional sense of the word ‘family.’


Sabatelli, Ronald, and Rebecca J. Waldron. “Measurement Issues in the Assessment of the
Experiences of Parenthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family 57.4 (Nov. 1995): 969-80.
JSTOR. Web. 10 Apr. 2012.
Shamah, Renee, et al. "Parenting Beliefs, Parental Stress, and Social Support Relationships."
Journal of Child & Family Studies 21.2 (2012): 190-98. Academic Search Premier.
Web. 11 Apr. 2012.


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