Is The End Of Nuclear Families Getting Closer?

What is a ‘nuclear family’ anyway? The traditional understanding is that it is a group of people which is made up of 2 parents and their immediate children. The parents are married and all the folks live together in the same place under the same roof. There is/was a common set of expectations that all the members were held to. Entitlement was not an issue like it is today. Pretty straight forward stuff. Many of us refer to this arrangement  as the ‘Cleaver ‘ family portrait.

Over the last 3-4 decades society has witnessed the development of many different ‘portraits’ of what families have become–what they look like today. Lifestyles have changed and so have the frameworks of families. But instead of maintaining some semblance of stability in our family structures so that our children will have something to count on we just keep changing the rules to satisfy our own needs. It is true that some kids adapt but many don’t and many of these kids who don’t adapt as well become the troubled ones. We now see a rise in single parented family homes and blended family homes and extended homes and grand parented homes and . . . Then some of the blended homes and the extended homes morphed into other arrangements to accommodate the needs and wishes of many who want to have a foot in all camps meaning they want to be ‘parents’, they want to be professionals–have a career and they want to enjoy their own lifestyle choices as well. A basic description of the variety of familial structures can be found by clicking the underlined link .

Looking at the responses and comments on the aforementioned web site ( it is not difficult to see how sensitive this whole business is when describing the variety of portraits. I understand that some don’t know where they fit-or where they want to fit or how they want to be seen by others. Some of the remarks wanted some of the others who commented to re-frame their comments to suit a much different understanding of what/who ‘parents’ are. Anyone confused? Imagine how confusing this must be to some of the kids who reside in what some are calling a nuclear family or a family home. I’m not suggesting that there is no love, security, stability or safety in homes other than what can be termed a ‘nuclear family home’ but what I am saying is that it is not the same as what I remember when I was a kid.

So many adults/seniors look at kids today and shake their heads at what they see and hear. Our childrens’ behaviours have changed dramatically as has their sense of connection, responsibility, commitment, work ethic, respect both for themselves and for their neighbours. If we want to try to understand what has happened to kids these days we need to look, minimally, at some of the changes that have taken place over the years regarding the changing living arrangements they have been and continue to be exposed to. How attached or connected do they feel? How much do they understand about living in harmony with others? Do they care about what they stand for and believe in? Do our kids as a whole even concern themselves with what is going on around them and where they fit in?

We can never go back to where we were so we need to figure out where do we go from here? We need to stop the bickering and whining about who says what about what. We need to remove political correctness from the equation instead of focusing on labels for lifestyle choices. This issue has become more about who calls or names something this or that and so should every one else. Really? I don’t care about the choices people make regarding their lifestyles but the individuals should care if only to the extent of how those choices might affect their children. It’s not enough to say ‘Oh they will be OK’. It’s time that adults grow up a bit as adults. If you want to be a parent then act like you really care about your kids. They are the ONLY thing that is important here and we, as a society, are perilously close to losing any credibility we have with them. If you don’t believe this is true then do the research. Begin by removing your head from your backside and have a good look around at what our kids are doing and what they are saying. Gandhi once said: “You must BE the change you want to see in the world.”  Great advice from a pretty smart guy.

If we don’t pay attention to how we conduct ourselves as adults our kids will certainly learn that they don’t have to care either. I think that is already showing up. I remember the old African proverb that says it best: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ There is a great deal of truth in this proverb and wisdom that we need to pay more attention to.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim

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