Skip to comments.Nuclear family gets nuked by the Gen-Xers
Posted on 09/15/2005 9:28:57 AM PDT by qam1
THE Australian family is under attack: not from an evil outside force intent on destroying a wholesome way of life, but from a none-too-subtle shift in values between generations.
Whereas the boomers were great supporters of mum, dad and the kids, later generations of Xers and now Ys are clearly less enamoured with family life, at least in youth. If there is a place for the traditional nuclear family in modern Australia it has been relegated to the late 30s and early 40s wasteland.
In 1991, 41 per cent of all Australian households featured a traditional nuclear family. This proportion would have exceeded 50 per cent in the 1960s. In this early manifestation of the traditional family, "the kids" numbered four and upwards.
Not like today: families have slimmed to two kids at best; a single child is common.
There is now a whole generation of Ys, and increasingly of Zs, growing up as lone kids in suburban houses. There are no brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles or aunties. These kids are quite alone.
The role of the family changed dramatically in the 90s. By 2001 only 33 per cent of all Australian households contained a traditional-styled family. In one devastating decade the family yielded 8 percentage points of market share to other, flashier, trendier, sexier households such as singles and couples.
Gen Xers didn't want to be stuck with a permanent partner and kids. They wanted to flit from relationship to relationship, job to job, home to apartment and then back to home, or from Australia to London and back.
Xers wanted to "discover themselves"; doing the daggy family thing just didn't sit well with Xer's plans for their 20s. Xers are incredulous at the suggestion they should pair up, bunker down and reproduce by 25.
"This is a no-brainer, right? The choice is either the pursuit of a cosmopolitan and funky 20- something lifestyle or spending this time cleaning up after a two-year-old? And the upside of the second choice is what exactly?"
Well, my dear little Xers, the upside of having kids in your 20s is that you grow as a person; you discover a wonderful sense of fulfilment in caring for and raising a well adjusted child who depends on you for everything.
"Bernard, please stop it. I can't take it any more. My sides are hurting. Tell me the real reason why we should forgo earning an income and having a good time in our 20s to have children.
"You mean that's it? That was for real? Look, if previous generations were dumb enough to waste their youth doing the kid thing, so be it. But don't lay any guilt trip on us just because we are exercising options that others were too stupid to grasp. And if I wanted a wonderful sense of fulfilment, then I'd go shopping."
And so the family shrivels.
By 2011 the traditional nuclear family will make up barely 28 per cent of all Australian households.
Singles and couples will account for 28 per cent of households. By the end of this decade the traditional nuclear family will no longer be the dominant social arrangement within Australia.
This is a very different world to the childhood of boomers 40 years earlier. In that world the family ruled. The family was reflected positively on television rather than in dysfunctional parody.
A suburban three-bedroom lair was designed specifically for families. No-one questioned the logic or the sanctity of the 1960s family.
The family is projected to continue on its current downward trajectory to make up just 24 per cent of all households by 2031. Single person households at this time are expected to make up 31 per cent of households.
What will Australia look like in 2031 when almost one in three households contains a single person? And this is not the young, sexy 20-something single that blossomed in the 1990s. No, the burgeoning market for singles during the 2020s will comprise sad old lonely baby boomers whose partner has died.
If we accept that there was a cultural impact from the baby boom in the 1950s that shaped consumer demand for 50 years, then we must also accept the confronting fact that there will be a "baby bust" 70 years later in the 2020s. The former delivered and deified the family; the latter will deliver a fatal blow to a social institution wounded by the shifting values of Xers and Ys 30 years earlier.
No need for sporting fields in Australian suburbia in the 2020s, but there will be a need for social and religious clubs to stem isolation within the burbs. It is an odd fact that as Australians get older and closer to death they also get closer to God. The 2020s will see a rise in religious fervour.
The bottom line is that the family is in transition, downwards. It is little wonder that political institutions are rallying behind its demise. The stark and brutal assessment is that within half a century we will have shifted from a situation where traditional families accounted for one in two households to one in four.
There will never be another decade like the 1990s when families conceded 8 percentage points in market share. After all, if we did this in the 2020s, then by the end of that decade traditional families would make up barely 17 per cent of all households. And at that level, you would have to question the basis upon which we as a nation bring up our kids. I don't think the Australian nation would ever be happy to have the majority of our children brought up in a social institution that does not contain a mother and a father living in cohabitation.
If these are our values, then the attack on the family that started in earnest in the 1990s must slow down and grind to a halt in the 2020s. Such a shift will slow down the rate of household formation and, combined with the dying off of the baby boomers in this decade, will lead to a severe slowdown in the demand for residential property in the 2020s.
As a consequence, I reckon the property industry has one, perhaps two, boom periods to run before it hits the wall at some stage during the 2020s.
Bernard Salt is a partner with KPMG
This is anecdotal evidence that serial polygamy has been to your liking. This doesn't accurately reflect the inequality of men and women before the law.
Yep, between the family courts being a tool of the feminist agenda instead of seekers after the welfare of the family, between the ease of no-fault divorce allowing any one partner to dissolve the marriage, no matter what the other feels, or the children need, and a culture that glorifies romantic notions far above committment, the 20th century Western approach has pretty much created a population crash especially among the educated and able.
Those who heed the siren call of self over family will probably see their bloodlines die out, while those who know that family is the bedrock are having multiple chidren (five and six are not uncommon among the serious young adults at my church.
I know whose bloodlines are not going to inherit the earth...
Being 45 (my husband is 50) with a 7 year old - I can totally realte. However, I'm not sorry I/we waited.....We have much more patience, and definitely more time to devote to her needs. By being a bit older, it would be nice if I were working right now, but it is not necessary and so I am home when she gets home from school each day and am not rushed with trying to deal with such things as dinner, homework, baths, etc.
Had you commented upon the disproportionate favor most Family Courts pay to the mother in custody/divorce disputes as opposed to your misogynistic rant - maybe you would have.,
That's what I'm talking about.
Can you show me where I made a misogynistic comment or are we so culturally feminized that criticizing a misandric legal system is now "misogyny".
My sister is in her late 20s and has said she will never marry or have children.
Because she has seen that the burden of raising children falls on the mother, which wouldn't be a problem if you could stay home and that could be your full-time job asit used to be.
Unfortunately, most guys want their wives to work either because the 2nd income is necessary to pay the bills or simply because they resent the notion of her staying home while they have to work.
There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
She said that she doesn't want to end up a single mom having to work a full-time job to support her children and fight her way through the courts to get some financial help from someone who will resent her for it.
She'd rather stay single and childless.
Being that I am in the very position she is trying to avoid (except I don't ask for any support except that which is freely given out side of a court room), I can't say I blame her.
So basically, guys are avoiding the nuclear family because they don't want to end up paying alimony, child support and/or losing half of what they own. And women are avoiding the nuclear family because they know the difficulties faced by single moms in today's world and don't want their children raised by a day care.
Men and women don't trust each other enough to believe that the "'til death do you part" vow will actually happen.
As goes marriage, so goes the nuclear family.
This might be a good time to get a cat or two. There suddenly a bigger than ever supply in shelters due to all the pets displaced by the burricane. I'll have children when I'm good and ready, but in the meantime, my kitties enrich my life considerably.
Here in the U.S., at least, I see lots of young people whose parents actively discourage marriage until (fill in blank) . . .
Then at about 25-30, the kids start realizing they'd like to have a family. They start looking around for someone to marry and, guess what, it's not as easy to meet people as it was in college and the few years afterwards.
The other sad thing I have seen more than once is the young person who deliberately delays marriage (urged by parents or not), marries in the early 30's, takes the parents' advice to settle down and build the nest egg for a few years, then gets around to wanting children . . . and it's too late.
Women have been bamboozled into thinking they can snap their fingers and get pregnant any time they want.
Some are sorely disappointed to find out that, after 30, fertility does start a down trend.
Sure, many women get pregnant even in their forties, but for anyone who is sure they want children, any doctor will tell them it's a risk to wait too long.
Of course, that counters the feminazi perspective that a woman must have it all before having children. And it counters the parents who constantly tell their children to make more money first or whatever.
But the biology don't lie.
If I truly felt prosperous and my assets were secure from government seizure (mostly due to demands of the rapacious retiring Boomers), I would have LOTS of kids.
As it currently stands, I will make 6 figures this year and still don't feel I could provide adequately for children.
Transitions are always bumpy. The new social arrangements will sort themselves out, as long as government socialist engineers stop meddling. For the past 30 years or so, our government policy has been "No father? Okay we'll start sending you monthly checks, food stamps, and housing vouchers." The policy needs to be "No father? Well you'll just to have to find some other way to support yourself and your children." The government meddling is interfering with the natural processes of social change, and getting predictably lousy results.
You must have a lot of expenses.
I support my 2 kids and my mother on $35k a year plus ~$300.00 per month of support.
It's a struggle, but I've done it for almost 4 years so far.
Isn't it funny how what started out as an accomplishment for "women's liberation"---the idea that a woman could and should work outside the home to fulfill herself---has become a millstone?
Indeed, in some circles, it's become a status symbol if a woman does not work. It means (in these circles) that her husband makes big bucks and she doesn't "need" to work.
Lots of people's lives (including children's) are destroyed by the combination of one lousy partner in a marriage, and the other partner insisting on staying anyway, either out of financial necessity (read: I always assumed I'd be part of a great pair forever, so I made no plans to be financially secure any other way), or out of misguided religious beliefs ("til death do us part" isn't supposed to mean "until I die at my husband's brutal hands, with my children watching"). I know plenty of people who are lifeling psychological basket cases, as a result or growing up in a home with an intact but awful marriage. They're easily in as bad shape as those who grew up in the middle of a vicious tug-of-war between divorced parents.
Having been married and divorced in my 20s and now happily married to to someone who had never been married before, I can look at these issues from various sides.
There is no cookie cutter solution to the problem, because every one is different.
My ex had 3 children from a previous marriage - when that ex sought an increase in child support for the youngest, my income was included in the calculation for the increase.......he attempted to not only get me to pay him spousal support, but to keep up the child support payments for a teenager who was not my child. Had I not has an on-the-ball attorney, both would have been granted to him.
My ex-husband passed away this spring - all alone because not even his sons, all grown men, wanted anything to do with him. He wasn't a boomer, or a gen Xer - he was born in 1939....and was divorced from the mother of his children long before no-fault divorce and the "feminist agenda"
Not really, I save/invest over half my income.
support my 2 kids and my mother on $35k a year plus ~$300.00 per month of support. It's a struggle, but I've done it for almost 4 years so far.
I said, I'd have kids if I felt prosperous. By prosperity, I mean how long I can live my current lifestyle without working.
While today's standard of living is certainly higher than in the past, I dispute the assertion that the average person is more wealthy. Last time I checked, America's saving rate is negative.
oh, relax - the pendulum will shift the other way inside ten to twenty years: the nice thing about fads is that they die.
reality will reassert itrself, and the old ways shall return to the forefront.
the only questions:
1. will the lesson stick?
2. will it be too late to save the western culture?
The nuclear family isn't the only possible strong family structure in which children can be raised into happy, self-sufficient, socially responsible adults.
What a silly response. Extended families have been around since the beginning of time, and its only been the last few generations where we began shuttling parents off to old folks homes (though certainly sometimes for medical reasons that is the best choice.) Nothing leftist at all about the concept of taking care of your own family.
Each person has to make their own moral decisions, and I'm not going to second guess them, but one of the benefits of extended families has always been that those who cared for their children for 18 years would in turn be taken care of when they could no longer care for themselves. That isn't asking gov't to do so, that is a family taking care of their own responsibilities. Some may have lost sight of that, for whatever reasons, but it is something to consider.
It is not possible for a man to enter a legally equitable relationship with a woman. Married men are 2nd class citizens and men married with kids are little more than serfs. I.E. no real claim on their future labor or even the custody and upbringing of their children.
That is an opinion, and a very anti-marriage, anti wife opinion, in my opinion.
While I sympathize with men being torn from their children because of those who abuse the system - I've seen many women experience the same at the hands of the same courts.
However, I refuse to broadbrush either with the same brush, because as was said earlier - it happens both ways.
I quite agree, and I'm female. Personally, I think it would really be better to go back to the legal concept of children as chattel, only with male and female parents recognized equally. Girl children belong to the biological mother, boy children to the biological father, unless the biological and any other parents involved have contracted for a different arrangement, or a court has found a parent to be utterly unfit to have custody of any child (not just less fit than the other parent). You leave a relationship, you take your kid(s) with you, and you have no rights or responsibilities with regard to your ex and his/her children.
There are plenty of people in nursing homes who stayed married and raised their children in a nuclear family, whose spouse has died and whose children are nowhere to be found. Spouses and children aren't insurance policies.
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