Breaking America’s Tradition

Family. When thinking of this word, one would think of a mother, father and children. Often times these members are thought to resemble each other. This idea stems from the idea of the nuclear family being related genetically. The phrase nuclear family, refers to a married man and woman living with their offspring. As stated before, nuclear families are expected to be genetically related thus creating the idea of a biogenetic family model. Biogenetic family relates to the idea that a family should look alike. A family should not be diversified. In a sense, some might say the point of having a family is creating mini-me’s and keeping the family genes going. While this type of family was the traditional way of living in the 1950s, times are changing and diversity is becoming more and more accepted.

According to an article in the New York Times, in the 1960s about 40% of Americans were a biogenetic family. This percentage decreased to about 25.6% in the 1990s. Today, only about 20% of Americans are still following the biogenetic model and have a nuclear family. That is half the amount of nuclear families that were in America in the 1960s. So what exactly happened that caused the decrease? And what are the other 80% doing? Well, it’s not like these families have stopped reproducing or caring about a family, they have just chosen a path that deviates from the traditional nuclear, biogenetic family model.

While in this day and age it has become more acceptable to not have children. Couples used to be pressured to get married young and have lots of children. Nowadays, couples aren’t as pressured to even get married anymore. While, it is the ‘traditional’ American thing to fall in love, get married and have children, less people are following in their parents’ footsteps. For those that are married and want to have children, many of them have turned another form of raising a child, adoption.

Adoption has always been there, but it has recently started to become more popular. What is also becoming more popular is an interracial adoption. This process is a difficult one to handle. Not only are families bringing a child into their family of a different race, but they are forcing other family members into a mixed race family. Of course there are people like myself who are completely open to interracial adoptions, but even to this day, there are still those few who find it hard to deal with and start to cause problems. It is definitely something adopting parents need to talk to their families about before making any decisions.

These days, the concept of the nuclear and biogenetic family model are changing. Many families these days aren’t conforming to this way of living for more than one reason. One reason is the fact that some couples cannot reproduce their own children and look to adoption to fill their void. Some women have medical reasons that won’t let her safely carry a baby through full term. Another reason for this diversion is because families today like to diversify their families. Sometimes there is a single person who would love to become a parent. A more recent reason is a gay or lesbian couple who wants to raise children together. The last reason discussed is someone might have been an adopted child and had a great experience. Often times, those that were adopted end up adopting because they want to give a child the same type of experience they had.

Another reason people are thought to deviate from the biogenetic model is interracial couples. While these kinds of families technically follow the biogenetic family model, many people assume that since some children take after one parent, they aren’t the parents child. Our generation is much more open to the idea of interracial couples than they were in the 1950s. It was almost shunned if you were to date outside of your race. Nowadays, 1 in 12 marriages are interracial. Being a mixed race couple, allows for the option of having mixed raced children. Sometimes when mixed race couple have children, ones genes are more prominent in the children, often making it look like the child isn’t one of the parents. Today’s society is more accepting of this, but there are still those who hold having a nuclear family to a high standard and question those who have mixed race children.

More reason for the deviation of a nuclear family, comes from parents who aren’t fit to raise a child. I have always felt that there should be required classes married couples have to take in order to become parents because there are couples out there that should not have children. But some how these unfit couples bring children into this world, do a terrible job at it and only scar and ruin the child. In most cases, other members of the family end up taking care of the children and raising them as their own. Where this deviates from the nuclear family, is when the grandparents or aunt and uncles become the parental figures in these children’s lives. No longer involved in the child’s life, the parents are irrelevant and thus lose their rights to the child.

While it was the popular thing in the 1950s to have a the traditional, nuclear, biogenetic family, today is a much different time. More families are becoming diversified. Whether these families are adopting, fostering, or are having interracial children, the traditional, single raced, American family structure is becoming a thing of the past. We are being forced to look past the physical appearance of families and accept them as they are.

by Mollie Gillman



“The Changing American Family.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 May 2001.                        Web. 25 Nov. 2014

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