American Family Structures

AmericanFamily Structures

Therelationship that entails the composition, and the membership of thefamily constitutes to its structure. It is reflected in the way inwhich a family is organized according to rules, roles hierarchies,and power. For long, the family structure in America had beencharacterized by a family support system whereby two married adultsprovide care and stability to their children. The perfect model of anAmerican family structure has been altered over the years to createmultiple categories of family forms. Cohabitation, divorce, andremarriage have been on the rise as families become smaller due tothe growth of single-parent households and lowered fertility. Thetransformation of the family structure has changed the role ofmothers as more women have entered the labor force.

FamilyStructures in America

Familylife has been undergoing gradual change as witnessed in the declineof two-parent households in America. In decades past, babies weremostly conceived within marriage, and this concept has taken anironic twist since many births now occur to single women. However,the changing composition of the family does not alter what isimportant to the child about being a member of the household. According to Widmer(2016), there is no dominant family structure in America as parentsare forced to raise their offspring in an evolving family structure.Furthermore, children nowadays are no longer assured a life withtheir birth parents to maturity, as their living arrangements aredependent on the changes in the relationship status of their parents.

Thechanges being witnessed are synonymous with a large number ofAmericans exiting the marriage. In years past, two biological parentsfamily was considered standard, and any other family structure wasportrayed as having deficits (Osborne,Berger, and Magnuson, 2012).Children grow up in varied structures of families, which at differenttimes of their lives may change. A family should be a place whereevery member feels safe where adults give support, guidance and asense of belonging. On the other hand, not all families are safe andloving towards each other. Every family encounters problems, but somehave serious problems like violent or abusive behavior, addictions,and fights between siblings. The various family structures that existin today’s America include:


Despitethe era in which the father went to work, and the mother stayed athome coming to a sharp decline, this family structure still exists inAmerica. There is a group of Americans who still value domesticcontainment as a way of life. They aspire to have a long, lasting,and stronger relationship than the one they had with their parents.These family types consist of both the parents and their offspringliving together. People of Asian descent have strong family ties andconstitute the bulk of nuclear families in America (Brown,Manning, and Stykes, 2015).Children brought up in a nuclear family experience strength andstability as a result of both parents contributing to their wellbeingfinancially and emotionally.

SingleParent Family

Thisis a family characterized by one parent in the household raising achild or children. These families often consist of a mother and herchildren, although there are single fathers as well. They resulteither from death, divorce or from the parent not choosing to marry.With one parent present, it becomes had to find childcare, and thisincapacitates the guardian regarding engaging in revenue-generatingactivities. Children from these households experience many negativeremarks from insensitive peers and adults. These families experiencea harmonious living because they cooperate in finding solutions forproblems in their home.


Thesefamilies are made up of more than just parents and children. Cousins,aunts, grandparents, foster children, and uncles are inclusive in theextended family structure. There are various reasons as to why allthese members come to live together, for instance, to help raisechildren, help with financial problems, or to support a sickrelative, among other distinct reasons. The extended family comes inhandy when parents can no longer raise their children or are dead.Grandparents or relatives can take up the role of bringing up theorphans. In most families, grandparents take the primary role inchildcare when both parents are working.


Thiskind of family involves couples who either cannot or choose not tohave children. Most have reasons as to why it is not right for themto have kids and some are in the process of decision-making.Moreover, many couples in childless families choose the status quo soas to concentrate on their careers while others reside to owningpets. The incidence of increase in families without children is dueto an aging population and couples deciding to stay childless. Thesefamilies are better off financially and have more free time at theirdisposal in comparison with families that have children.


Thesefamilies are due to divorce where later on the individuals involvedget remarried to other spouses. It entails two distinct familiescoming together to form a new unit. It consists of a new wife andhusband and their children from previous marriages. With the highrates of divorce, these families have become a current occurrence. Asthe families merge, some obstacles have to be overcome likediscipline issues and adjustments periods. Children in these familiesmight have their misconceptions that either the parent is favoringhis or her kids (Widmer, 2016). Moreover, it calls for theinvolvement of former partners regardless of the problems that led tothe separation.

Gayand Lesbian family

Sincethe legalization of same-sex marriages, many children are growing upin the care of one or more gay and lesbian parents. Sometimeschildren are confused for having a family different from most butunder other circumstances, they do not find it a big deal havingsame-sex parents. They may experience teasing during their schoolyears but eventually end up coping and adjusting. Children in thesefamily structures lead a normal life just like children fromheterosexual parents. They do have cordial relationships with theirpeers as well as romantic relationships later on in life.


Theseare family structures where either a single individual or a coupleprovides a child or children with a permanent home through a legalprocess. After the child is transferred to their care, the adoptiveparents are then completely for the child in all spheres of life likeemotionally, physically, legally, and financially as if it was theirreal child. Adoptive families have been around since time immemorial.Both sexes suffer from infertility and hence adopt or even gay andlesbian couples so as to form a family which would otherwise be hardunder normal circumstances. Adoption gives people a chance to leadhealthy fulfilling lives alongside children they would not have hadnaturally and provides children with opportunities in life. Adoptivefamilies can include couples adopting a child from their race ortrans-racial adoption where the adoptive parents’ race is differentfrom that of the child. Children from these families do not have theadvantage of learning about their birth culture through dailyinteractions and bits of knowledge, gained over the years as comparedto single-race families. These families have been shown to thrivewhile living in a multi-racial neighborhood.


Theseare families where the guardians are natives of other continents whocome to America for a better life. They move to America with an aimto provide better educational and economic opportunities to theirfamilies and children. Children from these families are hard working,and are aware of their parents’ motivation for coming to America.These families are close-knit, and the children have a strong senseof obligation to their parents. Their traditions play a paramountrole as they try to adapt to a new and cosmopolitan society.


Thesefamilies are composed of parents from different racial backgroundswho sire multi-racial children. Interracial marriages were forbiddenin America as a form of legal segregation until 1966 (Amato,Booth, McHale, and Van, 2014).Nowadays, choosing to marry someone of a different race is becomingincreasingly more common within the modern culture. These familiesexperience obstacles since from either side of the spouses theremaybe someone still prejudiced against other races. This hatred cancause disharmony in the relationship to the extent of leading todivorce. Furthermore, some children of interracial couples struggleto find their identity and often feel rejected by either race.

EmptyNest Family

Thisis a household where a single or both parents are left to live alonewhen their offspring have all grown up and moved out. When childrenleave their parents’ home to start an adult life elsewhere, itinfluences parents in different ways. Somehow, if they did nottransition together, they may become distant to each other and feelno longer compatible. The constellation of feelings parents getsafter their last child leaves home is referred to as the empty-nestsyndrome (Lee and McLanahan,2015). Full-time parents are at risk of the syndrome where theyexperience sadness, loneliness, and fear because of the changes inlife’s roles. These families can cope by planning and givingthemselves time to adjust to each other’s comfort. For singleparents, talking to other empty nesters would be comforting andcoping would not take long.


Inconclusion, the American family structure has undergone significantchanges where every family member has a role to play. The roles ofmen and women have switched where either sex could be a breadwinnerwhile the other stays at home to watch the kids. Children in themodern family structure more so teenagers have as much responsibilityas their parents. When teenagers have younger siblings, theysometimes cook them dinner and pick them from school. Regardless ofthe family structure that one comes from, it should be friendly,comforting, secure, and stable where everyone can thrive with ease.Every family must emphasize and teach the right values to their youngones so that they can grow morally upright and be acceptable membersof the community.