The Modern American Family: Child-Dominated, Strained, and Losing Intimacy

Last Updated: 30 Mar 2023
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The modern American family as described by Joseph B. Verrengia is “always in motion, child-dominated, strained and losing intimacy. ” It is actually the title of the paper that deals with common problems facing each family. American family is illustrated by a twenty-four hour activities by individual family members totally depart from each other from the head of the family down to children going to school. Only babies are pampered until they reach school age. In the article written by Joseph B.

Verrengia, he described Jake Zeiss, a nine-year boy who after seven-hour of back-to-back meetings, would volley for an hour with his tennis pro, then slid back into Mercedes to take nutritious bar and to do paper works using his laptop while traveling with other family members in the car. When tempted to play yo-yo, his mother would say, “Is that a good use of your time? ” Yet, the family was heading to a gym where they would meet their father to play some sports.

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David Osborne in an article entitled “The Cult of Fatherhood,” he illustrated how he struggled as he took care of their kid since birth because his wife had to stay in the hospital as a gynecologist where she worked 100 hours a week. He is a nontraditional father as he called himself because that was not the usual set up in the family but they had to cope up with the challenges. David Osborne told that traditional mothers work harder than anyone else could imagine; he referred to his own mother who had to rush with urgency in doing household chores twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year.

These are just two of the many families that experience complexity that affect their relationship and child rearing. Financially they are sufficient but in the advent of assuming roles and responsibilities, the future of the family is also affected. The Modern-day Family There are differences between the traditional family model and modern-day family and the primary reason for the abrupt change in the family set up was economic reason, since both mother and father have to work away from home leaving the kids unattended for some times and the whole family do not have quality time together.

Everyone is rushing trying to get works done, especially mothers, which is according to David Osborne, divided responsibilities are the reason for the “central unresolved conflict in the lives of the American women” (p. 195). Also, in the advent of change, fathers have to assume different role, which touches the sensitive part of his masculinity. On the other hand, the Zeiss family is an example of a family that enjoys the benefit of a good life, with bigger home, a Mercedes car, children attending exclusive schools and extra time for playing sports in the evening.

Despite togetherness they are time-bounded; without proper scheduling, they may miss important events of the day as a family. Verrengia writes as he quoted one statement, “We’ve scheduled and outsourced a lot of our relationships; there isn’t much room for the flow of life, those little moments when things happen spontaneously” (p. 6). The changes that occur in the lives of the American family especially in the middle-class working families present predicament that affect the country as a whole. And many of the dilemmas facing America right now could be associated with the family set up and relationship between each family member.

The many incident reports of crimes and marriage break ups have something to do with family relationships that were left unresolved. Thus, if one would not be creative enough to gather the family in one activity, most likely, the family would suffer for not having intimate time together. Contrast of Traditional and Modern-day Family These issues are by-products of the advent of modernization and industrialization in America and that; traditional family had their own way of coping up with the challenges and struggles of life without neglecting responsibility to one another.

Traditional family and modern-day family are distinct with each other in different ways. First, they are different as they view home. Traditional family model existed during the pre-Civil war and pre-sexual revolution; it was the time when family relied on agriculture as the source of income. Traditional family, which occurred during the pre-industrial America, the home would serve as a market, which was the main income source of the family. Usually, the home was not just a place for relaxation but a place where women could perform other income-generating activities like soap making, clothing production, etc.

Whereas, the modern homes that existed during the era of industrial and urban development, is viewed as a private place for the family to enjoy one another and to find relaxation. The home became the ideal place for domesticity or the place centered on family activities. Second, they differ in terms of gender role. During pre-industrial revolution, husband and wife had equal rights with one another and at the same time, perform equally for the betterment of the family. Clarence Roberts Jr. stated that men “worked at their various crafts (near the farm) or worked on the family farm” (The Changing Family).

Mothers worked in the house at the same time; her responsibility was important to the health and survival of the family” according to Clarence Roberts, Jr. There was no individual breadwinner and each had distinct role to perform – the wife for the house and husband in the farm. In contrary, gender roles had also changed in the modern-day society. During the post-industrial revolution, men finally realized their roles as breadwinners; so they left the responsibility of child rearing to the wife who was left alone. However change in gender role also change at the present day.

To use the example of Osborne, one distinct change was the fact that mother and father had interchanged their roles from being a provider to housekeeper and vice-versa. Women’s role in earning money for the family had been part of her responsibility since the pre-industrial era, but due to the disappearance and removal of home market, women had to look for a job outside the house, which is carried out until today. Third, family relationship had changed forever. Pre-industrial period family was seen as having a strong kinship.

By tradition, American family during that period practice extended family relations wherein relatives are part of the family such as in-laws, first cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. In an article entitled “Redefining Family, it stated there that the traditional parents’ role “gave way to affectionate bonds,” while husband and wife were “companionable. ” In effect, women were active in spiritual direction in the family, which shows her value in the family. However, industrialization and technology was the cause for the collapse of the tie that binds the family together.

Fathers had to left home to work in far away lands; women were left with the kids; extended family was lost; and, children had to work also The case of two families mentioned in this paper, is a scenario of the modern day family that grasp for time to be spent for the family. As each family member strives to give quality time, there is still missing because each is a human being that needs affection and togetherness. If not sufficiently given, the family might suffer. Industrialization has the advantage in the family, yet, American family is tied up with the system. Work Cited

“David Osborne: Beyond the Cult of Fatherhood (1985). ” Absorbing Stories, Creating Identities “Redefining Family. ” Colonial Williamsburg. 2007. http://www. history. org/Almanack/life/family/essay. cfm#transformed Roberts Jr. , Clarence. The Changing Family: How Changes in the Family Reflects Social and Economic Changes in Society. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. http://www. yale. edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1990/4/90. 04. 08. x. html Verrengia, Joseph. The Modern American Family: Always in Motion, Child-Dominated, Strained and Losing Intimacy. ” UCLA College Report. http://www. college. ucla. edu/celfarticle. pdf

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The Modern American Family: Child-Dominated, Strained, and Losing Intimacy. (2016, Jul 03). Retrieved from

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