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Main Entry: 1fam.i.lyPronunciation: 'fam-lE, 'fa-m&-Function: nounInflected Form(s): plural -liesEtymology: Middle English familie, from Latin familia household (including servants as well as kin of the householder), from famulus servantDate: 15th century5 a : the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their own or adopted children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family> b : spouse and children <want to spend more time with my family>In the 1950s most families seemed alike. The typical or Nuclear family comprised a father, a mother and two or three kids living together in their house or apartment. The father went off to work every day, and more often than not, the mother stayed at home to take care of the house and the children. In 1960 over 70 percent of all households were made up of a breadwinner father, a homemaker mother and their children. [The History of Private Life: The Modern Family, 2001] Today, in the new millennium, families come in many shapes and sizes, from the "Typical family" to the "Extended Family" (Nuclear family plus grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) to the "Single parent family" (mother and children or father and children). Compared to the 1950s where it was the male's job to go off to work, to supply the family with sufficient needs and the female's job to concentrate on the home life and care of the children, the roles of parents in modern families are much more diverse, in a way that the workload is shared between the parents. More often than not both parents travel to work each day, or work out of a home office or the father may concentrate on the home life and care of the children while the mother may go off to work.
"Traditional" families with a working husband, an unemployed wife (not in paid employment) and one or more children make up less than 15 percent of the nation's households. Regardless of whether these changes are due to cultural differences, family matters or personal choice, these differences are all accepted as workable models in today's society. They are no longer frowned upon as they may have been fifty years ago. These profound changes have reshaped family life in recent years. In a decade, divorce rates doubled. The number of divorces today is twice as high as in 1966 and three times higher than in 1950.
The rapid upsurge in the divorce rates correlates with a dramatic increase in the number of "single-parent" households or what used to be known as "broken homes". The number of households consisting of a single woman and her children has tripled since 1960. A sharp increase in female-headed homes has been accompanied by a surprising increase in the number of couples cohabitating outside of marriage. The number of unmarried couples living together has quadrupled since 1970. [The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002]One main factor reshaping family life has been the massive flood of mothers into the work force.
As late as 1940, less than 12 percent of white married women were in the work force; today the figure is nearly 60 percent and over half of all mothers of pre-schoolers work outside the home. The major forces that have propelled women into the work force include:-q a rising cost of living, which encouraged many families to seek a second source of incomeq increased control over fertility through contraception and access to safe abortion, allowing women to work without interruption q rising educational levels, which lead many women to seek employment for intellectual motivation and fulfilment. [The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002]As wives have assumed a larger role in their family's financial support, more and more children have been placed in child care services (See Appendix 1). Fewer children have a full time mother and as a result, an increasing number of young children are cared for during the day by adults other than their own parent. Today, over two-thirds of all three-to-five year olds take part in a day care, nursery school, or pre-kindergarten program, compared to a fifth in 1970.
(See Appendix 2 for percentage in 1999)Evidence of fathers playing any real role in children's upbringing is simply missing until early modern times, around the 1970's. Fathers were not often involved in the upbringing of their children. Children up to the age of 7 would learn social and language skills from their mothers, whilst their fathers would generally become more involved in the upbringing of the children from that point onwards. The fathers of fifty years ago missed the first years of their children's lives, what we consider today to be the most important part of a child's life. Whether it be because of work related reasons, social discouragement or personal choice, these ways were considered to be the correct way of raising children fifty years ago and the relationships between fathers and their children suffered because of this. Particularly in young boys as they had to portray the image of a "man" and it was discouraged for them to express their feelings and emotions.
Today, children's relationships with their parents have been affected in a way that the children have grown closer to the parent they spend the most time with. For example if the mother is unemployed and at home with the children every day while the father goes to work, the children will obviously grow closer to the mother and visa-versa. In the other circumstance, where both parents may work and the children are placed in child care or cared for at home by people other than their parents, they will not have that strong bond with their parents and will create it with their carers. Work related reasons are the main reasons for family relationships suffering. More and more parents are joining the labour force and therefore more and more children are being forced into some form of childcare and spending less time with their families, causing the family relationships to suffer.
These children are spending their most important years of their lives growing close to people other than their own parents. The parents don't love their children less but the children need to spend a sufficient amount of time with both their parents throughout their childhood, otherwise they may grow up feeling they have no one to turn to when life gets hard or no one special to share their precious memories with. It's important for parents to spend time with their children, they need their parents just us much as their parents need them.
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