Family Life Today (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Blended Families

Divorce, as previously described, impacts a great many families. It leaves young children without one of their parents and creates many stresses for all involved. In many circumstances, family dynamics are further complicated by the eventual remarriages that frequently occur. As in the previous example of Ramon, these blended families create challenges for both parents and children as new relationships are established. Approximately 15% of American families today include a stepchild or stepparent (Hildebrand et al., 2000). While adults are learning to mesh parenting styles and combining efforts to manage complex households, children are adjusting to a variety of new relationships (Berger, 2004). Socially withdrawing or acting out behaviors may be the responses of children in new blended families. Careful observation and sensitive interactions may be required of the teacher to assist children and families with these complex changes.

Gay and Lesbian Families

A small but growing number of children in America have either two moms or two dads. In some cases, these children were born into a heterosexual family that later dissolved when one of the partners discovered his or her homosexual inclinations. Others were either adopted by their gay or lesbian parents or were conceived through artificial insemination (American Psychological Association, 2006). Although gay and lesbian families currently make up only a small percentage of family totals, there is every indication that teachers and schools will see increasing numbers in the future. The latest U.S. Census data indicate that 96% of all U.S. counties have at least one same-sex couple with children under age 18 (Gates, 2003). As state and federal laws continue to become more supportive of gay and lesbian couples and society in general grows more accepting of this family configuration, it becomes increasingly likely that you will be working with gay and lesbian families in your future teaching career.

Two-Career Families

Today’s economic realities find a great many intact families in which both parents work outside the home so that the family can maintain a desired lifestyle. In other two-parent families, both husband and wife have career aspirations and are employed full-time outside the home. Because of these two sets of circumstances, children in two-parent families today tend to have less time to spend with their parents (Berger, 2004). In addition to less family time, when both parents work outside the home, parents may have fewer opportunities to be actively involved in school activities. While there are numerous exceptions to this generalization, the complexities and time-constraints of two-career families make it more difficult to get actively involved in classroom activities. Teachers of young children need to understand the complexities of this family type and make adjustments in their involvement strategies to ensure that busy lifestyles and limited flexible time can be managed.

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