Free Essay on State of Marriage in the United States today:
Increasing rate of families with one parent and their influence on up-bringing of children in America.
Today only half of American children live in nuclear families with both biological parents present, – claims Stephanie Coontz. And this percentage is obviously growing. More and more children are brought up in families with one parent, and majority of such families can’t provide for themselves. How does this new family structure affect children?
Traditionally marriage is considered a voluntary union of a man and a woman, aimed to create steady relations and form a new family. A happy marriage with two parents is the most important thing in child-upbringing. It plays major role in formation of children’s character, life outlook and what is more, their personal views on marriages. If a child is for some reason deprived of one parent, his formation as a personality will be incomplete. It especially affects children, deprived of fathers, as the role of father in family was proved to be irreplaceable. On the other hand, the statement that two good or adequate parents are better than single, and it’s better to try to maintain harmony in a newly formed family, than to break it hastily at first signs of trouble, is also right (Coontz). Marriage provides a feeling of mutual love and respect of two people. Stephanie Coontz admits that in past fifty years the marriage institute changed more rapidly than in the past several thousands years. In this way traditional understanding of marriage is a relative novelty for modern humanity.
In major cases women become initiators of divorce, being afraid of negative affect of family quarrels on children’s psyche. In this way the head of most incomplete families is also a woman, because, as a rule, guarding over children is given to wives. Such families usually belong to the poorest groups of society. Many single mothers, no matter whether they were married or not, still face social disapproval and economic exposure.
The influence of parental divorce on children is hard to value. Everything depends on the extent of strain between parents, age of children, support of other relatives and relations between children and parents. Even if unhappily married parents continue to live together, children are more likely to feel strain between family members. In case of divorce, however, the consequences are much harder. Underage children often feel uneasy and afraid and even blame themselves for family destruction. Older children understand motives of divorce better, but it is emotionally hard for them to get used to a single-parent family structure, anyway.
The category of families with one parent is heterogeneous. For instance, more than a half of American widow mothers possess their own houses, while major part of single mothers rent flats. Poor conditions of single-parent families affect normal up-bringing of children, and make them feel deprived of usual childish pleasures. A single parent is an unstable state. In major cases (60%) such families are the result of broken relations and divorce.
Most people would not like to become single parents, but there are people, particularly women, who decide to bring up children without any support from husband or partner. The concept “single mothers by choice” defines women, whose financial state is enough to provide a decent living for their children and themselves.
Single-parental families became a real problem in America. Since a woman nowadays can be sure in personal economic welfare, there is no need for her to get married again, if her first marriage was unhappy in some way. There is an opinion that only married couples should be provided with tax relief for children or be privileged in some other way, while singles and divorced parents must be deprived of any help, which would make it easier for them to function (Coontz). In other words, by helping these groups of people, government doesn’t stimulate them to get married again. Such measures, however, are obviously too radical. Despite the irreplaceable importance of fathers in family, people have a right to decide whether they want to lead a married life or not on their own. And if a woman decided to divorce for some reason and started raising her child alone, she has full rights to get help from the government, and it doesn’t mean she won’t choose to get married again, if she finds a decent candidate. Many people are afraid of remarriage, because of unpleasant past experience, and this is more a psychological problem, than the problem of financial help. Single-parent families need special support from the government, because they need to mitigate the affect of parent-deprival on children. Children won’t be so sensitive to lack of one parent, if at least family welfare will be normal.
The problem of single-parent families is still under discussion in the USA. Despite all obvious difficulties which await parents and their children after divorce, it is highly recommended to get help from family consultants first. Before taking such an important step as divorce, parents should think of how it may affect their children, and they shouldn’t forget that children, who regularly socialize with both parents, are much happier than those, who are deprived of one of them.
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