Single Parents by Choice: A Growing Trend in Family Life

Single Parents by Choice: A Growing Trend in Family Life

Single Parents by Choice: A Growing Trend in Family Life

Single Parents by Choice: A Growing Trend in Family Life

Synopsis

"With almost one child in four currently living with a single parent, one-parent families have become a significant and growing presence in America today. Naomi Miller, Ph. D., a clinician and expert in family relations, looks at a new and emerging group of single parents, namely, those who, not unlike couples, came to their decision for single parenthood intentionally. In contrast to teenage mothers, these men and women are, for the most part, older, educated, professionally successful, and financially secure. By offering relevant demographic, research, and sociocultural data, as well as a series of intensely personal and revealing interviews, Single Parents by Choice investigates what led these people to make such a decision. These new family constellations involve the following four separate groups: single biological mothers; single adoptive mothers or fathers (including those who have adopted older children as well as infants); divorced parents (i.e., the active parent who has decided not to remarry); and gay and lesbian parents (a relatively "new" category of alternative parenting). Listening to the poignant stories of those who have chosen single parenthood, we learn about their family backgrounds and how these played a significant role in shaping the hopes and aspirations for creating their own families. We hear about their ambitions, social lives, and love relationships, and what ultimately led them to decide to take on the responsibilities of parenthood outside the bonds of marriage. They talk about their experiences as parents and what impact their single status as parents and what impact their single status has had on their children, as well what kinds of responses they have received from family, friends, and society at large. Some important questions are raised, namely, what are the psychological implications for the children, and how do they compare to children of two-parent families? In reviewing similar trends in Sweden, England, and Israel, the author asks to what extent can we expect these new family forms to be viewed as normative alternatives to the two-parent family. Single Parents by Choice offers significant new insights into the struggles, frustrations, and joys of raising a child independently and will be of enormous interest to all those involved in or considering this option, as well as psychologists, sociologists, social workers, marriage and family counselors, those in women's studies programs, and gay and lesbian rights advocates." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

We are living in radically changing times, and many of the norms and values of the recent past are in flux. The traditional nuclear family (father, mother, and children), long considered the mainstay of Western society, no longer represents the largest proportion of American households. In a span of a mere thirty years, the traditional family has gone from constituting 44 percent of all households in 1960 to 26 percent in 1990.

While the traditional norms of the family, such as marriage, parenting, and family life, continue to be valued by most people, it is no longer the case that the majority of Americans will live in such a family for the major portion of either their childhood or their adult lives. Because many of the norms and rules governing family behavior have relaxed, in recent years we have witnessed the emergence of an unprecedented and growing number of alternate family patterns and lifestyles.

The purpose of this book is to examine one of these changes, namely, the growing numbers of single people who are choosing to become parents or to raise children while alone. Between 1970 and 1990, single-parent households almost tripled in this country, 3.8 million being recorded in 1970, and 9.7 million in 1990. This book does not examine . . .

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