Tag Archives: family

The Trauma of Parenthood

0629GRAY-superJumboThe Trauma of Parenthood

The Changing America Family

American households have never been more diverse, more surprising, more baffling. In this special issue of the NY Time / Science Times, NATALIE ANGIER takes stock of our changing definition of family.

“Families, they say, are becoming more socially egalitarian over all, even as economic disparities widen. Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago — than even half a year ago.

In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows. Good friends join forces as part of the “voluntary kin” movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally.

Single people live alone and proudly consider themselves families of one — more generous and civic-minded than so-called “greedy marrieds.”

“There are really good studies showing that single people are more likely than married couples to be in touch with friends, neighbors, siblings and parents,” said Bella DePaulo, author of “Singled Out” and a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll be single forever. “There are not just more types of families and living arrangements than there used to be,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of the coming book “Intimate Revolutions,” and a social historian at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. “Most people will move through several different types over the course of their lives.”

At the same time, the old-fashioned family plan of stably married parents residing with their children remains a source of considerable power in America — but one that is increasingly seen as out of reach to all but the educated elite.”

See the entire article here: goo.gl/t2BJvN

The Challenges of Modern Parenting

The NY Times has a book review today of an interesting new book that explores how radically parenting has changed in the last 70 years. Kids are no longer seen as property, or workers for the farm, but rather precious little beings that rule the household like royalty. This creates a huge shift in how we interact as families, and the expectations the next generation of adults will have about how the world should regard them. Interesting food for thought.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Children alter the adult relationships into which they obtrude. Indeed, Senior says, they provoke a couple’s most frequent arguments — “more than money, more than work, more than in-laws, more than annoying personal habits, communication styles, leisure activities, commitment issues, bothersome friends, sex.” Mothers are frequently overwhelmed by their attempts to excel both at their paid jobs and at child care. In 1965, when most American women didn’t work outside the home, mothers nonetheless spent almost four fewer hours a week than today’s mothers do providing child care. Fathers, on the other hand, spend three times as many hours with their children now as they did then, but do better at keeping some downtime reserved for themselves; they do not judge themselves the way mothers do, and experience few of the pressures that make women feel so guilty about being away from home during the workday.

Taking care of — and indeed loving — one’s children changes as they reach adolescence. Senior notes that parents often do homework with their children; “homework,” she writes aphoristically, “is the new family dinner.” It is the locus around which affection is played out. Parents struggle through their children’s teenage years both because of their changed relationship with their children and because of their changed relationship to themselves. It is not easy to have much of your purpose shattered by your child’s independence. This loss can throw parents back on their own inner lives, and self-examination can be painful. “The mere presence of adolescents in the house, still brimming with potential, their futures still an unclaimed colony . . . sets off a fantastical reverie of what-ifs,” Senior writes.”

Read the full story here: http://goo.gl/opyyYI

ALL JOY AND NO FUN
The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
By Jennifer Senior
308 pp. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $26.99