Gone are the days that limit the typical image of family to a husband, wife, two kids and a dog. These days, American families reflect the diversity that makes this country such a great place to raise our children. And acceptance of the new fabric of family shows. A group of surveys conducted by Indiana University sociology professor Brian Powell revealed that Americans now recognize “broader combinations of people as families,” and pop culture’s depictions of families on television shows like “Modern Family” back up these findings. Let’s take a closer look at the family next door.
The adoptive family
With about 1.5 million adopted children living in the U.S. today, there’s a strong possibility that someone you know is adopted or has adopted a child. In fact, according to a 2007 National Adoption Attitudes Survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, “three in 10 Americans have or are considering adoption.”
Why it works: Adoption is a wonderful option for many families because it matches children in need of a family with parents who are eager to provide love, care and support. Because of the long, arduous and often expensive adoption process, adoptive parents are usually well-equipped to meet their child’s every need, and their desire for a happy family shows.
The single parent
There are 13.7 million single parents living in the U.S. today. In fact, over a quarter of all American children are raised by solo super-moms and dads. While the majority of single parents are divorced or separated, some of them made the decision to do it alone by choice through adoption or fertility clinics.
Why it works: While being the only parent in the equation can have its challenges, there are also some benefits that are often overlooked. For example, children of single parents are more likely to step up to the plate when it comes to helping out with responsibilities around the household. And watching a single parent make it work on one income can help instill a strong work ethic in children and an appreciation for the things they are given. Bonus: As a single parent, you get to do everything your way!
The same-sex parents
According to the Family Equality Council, there are an estimated 1 million gay couples raising children in the U.S. today. And while some once feared that children could not be raised as effectively in a single gender household, new research has shown that this simply is not true. According to University of Cambridge psychology professor and fatherhood expert Michael Lamb, “It is well-established that children do not need parents of each gender to adjust healthily.”
Why it works: Whether they pursue surrogacy, adoption or other methods, it is no easy feat for gay couples to have children. Much like adopted children, the bottom line is that the children of gay parents are very wanted. With all that time and devotion spent on starting a family, it’s no surprise that same-sex couples continue to show their children an above-average level of care and affection as they grow up.
The blended family
If you had any doubts about the fact that blended families have gone mainstream, look no further than one of television’s most iconic blended families, The Brady Bunch. And since the Brady era, the number of blended families in the U.S. has increased to over 23 million today. With 33 percent of marriages forming new families, this particular form of family only continues to grow.
Why it works: Balancing the relationships between all the children and parents involved in a blended family can be tricky, especially when the family is formed after divorce. However, the hardships these families face can be outweighed by the bonuses of having a bigger, more diverse family. After the initial adjustment period, many children of blended families find that they are able to have different types of meaningful relationships with their new family members than the ones they had established before the families were combined. And the bigger the family, the more love there is to go around.
The multi-generational family
In our recent flip-flopping economy, more American families have found themselves sharing living quarters with extended families than ever before. In fact, according to a report from the Pew Research Center, 49 million Americans currently live in a multigenerational household.
Why it works: Although financial concerns are a common reason for families to start calling grandma “roomie,” many people have found that some unexpected benefits come along with multigenerational family living. Besides having a babysitter perpetually on call, parents can also enjoy watching a stronger bond form between their children and extended family members when living under one roof.