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IS the Nuclear Family Going the Way of the Buffalo?

fathers226Is the nuclear family over?

If it’s not, it’s certainly changing, says the British Families and Parenting Institute. A recently issued report found that parents are increasingly seeking help from grandparents, aunts and uncles as they deal with changes and setbacks in their own lives. “Families were pulling society in multiple directions, between work and home life, singleness and cohabitation and marriage, between growing older and forming families across our many cultural divides,” according to executive director of the institute Dr. Katherine Rake. Soon, she adds, there will be no one typical family structure.

Personally, I don’t see this as necessarily a bad thing. Kids can thrive in all sorts of situations if the adults have their best interests at heart and give them stability and loving care. Families stepping in to help out with child care or help a family deal with other crises is exactly what families are for, I think, and a sign of health instead of decay. And the longer I raise a family the more I see the value of community and the damage that the typical American “hole up in your suburban house and turn inward” way of life really does.

Here’s another change that’s not for the bad — the role of father is predicted to change the most over the next several years, as much as the role of women did in the last half of the last century. It’s already changed enormously — the report states that the amount of time fathers spend “actively engaged” with their kids has gone up 200 percent since the 1970s. I’d say pretty much every dad I know spends at least that much more time with their kids than their fathers did, and it’s great for both the kids and the dads. Not to mention the moms, who pretty much seem to avoid that Betty Draperesque martyr attitude of “no one knows how hard they have it.” When dad’s as likely to change a diaper or wipe a nose as you are, it’s pretty hard to throw your own pity party.

What do you think — is the loss of the traditional family structure good or bad? Or is it maybe not that black-and-white?

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