Chapter 1 Family Commitments Making Choices in a Changing Society
Chapter Outline Defining Family The Freedom and the Pressure of Choosing Making Choices A Family of Individuals Marriages and Families: Four Themes
Defining Family Law and Science People related by blood, marriage or adoption. U.S. Census Bureau Two or more persons who share a household and who are related by blood, marriage or adoption.
Which of These Is a Family? A husband and wife and their offspring. A single woman and her three children. A 52-year-old woman and her adoptive mother. A man, his daughter, and the daughter’s son. An 84-year-old widow and her dog, Fido. A man and all of his ancestors back to Adam and Eve.
Which of These Is a Family? Two lesbians and their children from a previous marriage of one woman and a previous relationship of the other woman with a male friend. Two children, their divorced parents, the current spouses of their divorced parents, and the children from previous marriages of their stepparents.
Which of These Is a Family? Two adult male cousins living together. A 77-year-old man and his best friend. A childless husband and wife who live 1,000 miles apart. A divorced man, his girlfriend, and her child. Both sets of parents of a deceased married couple. Six adults and their 12 young children, all living together in a communal fashion.
Facts: U.S. Families Today Fewer people are currently married. People are postponing marriage. Cohabitation has emerged as a lifestyle intermediate between marriage and singlehood. Some cohabitants maintain gay and lesbian domestic partnerships.
Facts: U.S. Families Today The number of people living alone is substantial. Many adult children live with their parents. A much higher proportion of older men than older women are married.
Facts: U.S. Families Today Parenthood is increasingly postponed and fertility has declined. More births are to unmarried mothers than in the past. There are now fewer children and more elderly. Divorce rates have stabilized, but remain high.
Facts: U.S. Families Today Remarriage rates have declined, but remain high. Most children live in two parent households. Over the last five years the proportion of children living in singleparent families has stabilized.
Facts: U.S. Families Today There is considerable variation in children’s living arrangements. Children are more likely to live with a grandparent today than in the recent past. Most parents are working parents. Children are more likely than the general population or the elderly to be living in poverty.
New Definition of Family Any sexually expressive or parent–child or other kin relationship in which people related by ancestry, marriage, or adoption: 1. Form an economic unit and care for any young. 2. Consider their identity to be significantly attached to the group. 3. Commit to maintaining that group over time.
Making Choices People make choices even when they are not aware of it. There are two forms of decision making choosing by default choosing knowledgeably
Making Choices Knowledgeably Recognizing as many options or alternatives as possible. Recognizing the social pressures that influence personal choices. Clarifying one’s own values. Choosing knowledgably
Choosing by Default Choices people make when they are not aware of alternatives or when they pursue the path of least resistance. Sometimes, college students choose their courses or even their majors by default. Many decisions concerning marriages and families are made by default.
Choosing Knowledgeably Two components in choosing knowledgeably: Recognizing as many options or alternatives as possible. Recognizing the social pressures that may influence personal choices. An important aspect of making knowledgeable choices is considering the consequences of alternatives rather than gravitating toward the one that seems most attractive.
A Family of Individuals 91% of Americans report that family relations are extremely important to them. Family values such as family togetherness, stability, and loyalty focus on the family as a whole. Placing family wellbeing over individual interests and preferences is termed familism.
Families Boundaries Families create boundaries between themselves and the rest of the world. Families mark off physical space that is private and theirs alone. Family members determine what is allowed to enter the family space and under what conditions. Family boundaries create a space in which members can relax and be themselves.
Archival Family Function Families create, store, preserve, and pass on objects, events, or rituals. Archives contain a variety of symbols: Snapshots of happy times Family movies Artifacts from infancy or childhood Symbols of recognition and achievement Anecdotes which reinforce an identity as the reckless one, the helpful one, etc.
Marriages and Families: Four Themes 1. Personal decisions must be made throughout the life course. Decision making is a trade-off; once we choose an option, we discard alternatives. No one can have everything. The best way to make choices is knowledgeably.
Marriages and Families: Four Themes 2. People are influenced by the society around them. Cultural beliefs and values influence our attitudes and decisions. Societal or structural conditions can limit or expand our options.
Marriages and Families: Four Themes 3. We live in a changing society, characterized by increased ethnic, economic, and family diversity; by increased tension between familistic and individualistic values; by decreased marital and family permanence; and by increased political and policy attention to the needs of children. This situation can make personal decision making more difficult and more important.
Marriages and Families: Four Themes 4. Personal decision making feeds into society and changes it. We affect our social environment every time we make a choice. Making family decisions can mean choosing to become politically involved in order to effect family-related social change. Making family choices according to our values gives our family lives greater integrity.
1. Placing family well-being over individual interests and preferences is referred to in the text as a) familism. b) modified individualism. c) kinship focusing. d) primokinship.
Answer: a Placing family well-being over individual interests and preferences is referred to in the text as familism.
2. The archival family function refers to: a) cataloging family heritage. b) family lineage. c) maintaining the family as a unique experiential reality or group. d) family tradition.
Answer: c The archival family function refers to maintaining the family as a unique experiential reality or group.
3. According to the text, the best way to make decisions about our personal lives is to make them a) by default. b) according to the principles of familism. c) according to the principles of individualism. d) knowledgeably.
Answer: d According to the text, the best way to make decisions about our personal lives is to make them knowledgeably.