In the last generations, first out of wartime necessity and subsequently as women found increasing parity and opportunity, we have become a society where 60% of households have dual earners. Interestingly, in 40% of these households the woman is the leading earner and increasingly the more educated. This trend had led to a change in family roles and combined with a 50%+ divorce rate increasingly undefined and non-traditional roles in the household. After multiple generations of consistency, the family unit has restructured with no clear model.
This has certainly opened many new doors and created higher family incomes. Concurrent with this rise over the last few decades of family wealth, has come a significant increase of debt as well a new blend of roles for mothers, fathers, other family members and support structures. Parents spending 40 hours away from children modifies the father's role and redefines motherhood. In many regions there are social consequences both spoken and unspoken.
Under any measurement, for decades this trend allowed for more homes and cars to be bought and a generally higher standard of living. As veterans returned from the World Wars to "improve society for the next generation," the baby boomers worked specifically to make life easier for their children and the family unit. Family activities with more limited parent availability moved to increased concentration of family time spent focused on the children. Increased media exposure to previously nonpublic stories of child molestation in churches to teen kidnapping and gang involvement (just to name a few threats amplified by media attention) has led to increased supervision and control by parents. Increasing fuel to this trend is the guilt by both parents torn between their breadwinner role and their parental responsibility. Although, frequently defined as issues of one gender or the other, the result is a change in roles in the household and behavior changes.
The family dinner is increasingly impacted as time limitations don't allow for food prep and increasingly children activities are concentrated into parental available times in the evening and weekends. Time management becomes conflicting. Role management results in guilt. The family dinner becomes take out and parental time is increasingly spent behind the steering wheel, not looking their children in the eye.
This has changed discipline. This has changed conflict management as parents want to solve their children's problems. Parents don't want to be the disciplinarian and have their children resent their authority. For generations these roles were clear. Right or wrong roles were defined in a family unit. Today responsibility is less defined, roles are fuzzy and single parenting increasingly a commonality. Unintended consequences.
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