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
ping to self.
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
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Ahh, liberal philosophy at work destroying civilization.
Those from a generation who's parents had such a high divorce rate are cynical about marriage. Who wants to tie the not when she will leave you in 5-10 years and take all your money?
Not all of us are going to make the same mistakes are parents made. Many of us seen first hand how divoce destroys lives.
I am glad I have not made those same mistakes.
This is just a natural change in society. With technological and economic progress, people want different things from their living and family arrangements than they used to. Those who are constantly wailing about how awful it is that the "nuclear family" is increasingly scarce, are conveniently forgetting that most of the people who are now choosing NOT to participate in such arrangements, did grow up in a "nuclear family" household. It must not have been nearly as wonderful as its cheerleaders claim, or more young adults would have fond memories of living in such families, and want to form similar ones. They certainly aren't making their choices out of ignorance of what "nuclear family" life is like.
A lot of people have also seen first hand how marriage can destroy lives, and are determined not to make that mistake.
The leading cause of divorce is marriage.
The name of that "natural change" is "death". Not many children, and the children there are will be raised without fathers. Plenty of evidence that fatherless kids end up with all sorts of issues not conducive to civilized behavior.
You want to see the ultimate result of that "natural change"? Look at New Orleans when the lights went out.
WOW! I have never heard of a marriage destroying a life. It has been my experience that the person did not pick their life partner very well and ended up in a mess.
I am sure there are exceptions to that rule....
Another example of why I love FR....always a witty, funny remark to be had....:)
Marriage never destroys lives. Selfishness and sin do that.
The change is natural, it is called the death of Western Civilization. Not by the sword, but by suicide. We in the west have simply decided not to continue on beyond ourselves. Most have become so short sighted that raising the next generation is viewed as a threat.
So revile in the past, and realize that the future has been aborted.
a) The Muslims are having a lot of babies
b) The Social Security ponzi schemes
This wouldn't necessary be a bad thing. There's already too many people on this planet.
Huge numbers of those kids grew up in broken homes, have come not to trust relationships. It's not a natural shift, although it's happened in the past, too, especially near the end of the Roman empire when it became really a pain to try to raise a family because of the economic strictures the later emperors put on economic development...it's a shift away from the future, spawned not by the Xers, and not started by the boomers, although they were involved in it, but by a self-indulgent meme that perculated through a lot of the 20th century that decided a person's right to self-fulfillment meant that they could dump on the backs of their kids, leaving their kids in precarious situations.
Societies with weak family structures and no kids tend to crash when crisis time comes. The future will see if this paradigm holds true this time around.
I think you nailed it.
Growing up I had a wonderful, blessed "nuclear family" life.
But I have never, and I mean never, wanted children.
My spouse is pretty much the same.
We may get a cat or two someday. :o)
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.
I think it is difficult to get one's hands around this problem and there are many factors: No-fault divorce is one. The ease of travel and consumerist lifestyle is another. A third is high taxes and the high cost of living. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Of one thing, I am sure, though. The country, as a whole will drift "rightward" as time goes on. Conservatives are more likely to have babies (and not abort them) and religious conservatives are more likely to have more babies.
ROTFL. This moron just described the Baby Boomers to a T.
Aha. I see you're back with your anti-marriage screed. For all the happily married folks reading this thread, I say to you: pthpthpthpthpth!
This is an idiotic argument; it presumes that having kids in your 20s is the only way to grow or have fulfillment. So I guess a priest or a monk cannot grow as a person or have a wonderful sense of fulfillment? If this is the only way you can grow or be fulfilled, it brings into question your value as a human being.
The reality is that a very significant chunk of the people who have kids in their 20s today did so as a result of a character flaw, personal stupidity, or random chance. Hardly a ringing endorsement. For most people, it does not make sense to have children in your 20s which is the real reason this is happening -- if it isn't rational, most people won't do it. GenX is under no obligation to meet the vacant ideal of anyone.
I wonder how many who opine that the nuclear family is overrated will still feel that way years down the road, sitting alone in a nursing home with no children and extended family to take them in and give them dignified care in the final, often difficult, years?
Conservatives have more legitimate babies, granted. But not more babies overall, IMO.
Personally, I think marriage is an important pillar of civil society. However the legal disincentives for marriage have become so great that we are now witnessing its decline.
I'm simply trying to articulate the causes of an empirically observable phenomenon.
Perhaps you care to respond with some farting noise now.
You don't have children so they can take care of you when you're old. Do you?
Besides, who's to say they won't die before you do?
Who's to say they won't develop some kind of disease or get hurt terribly in an accident and you won't have to take care of *them*?
I feel sorry for who plan their old age around "who's going to take care of me"? Very leftist viewpoint when you think about it.
Currently the Boomer's plan to confiscate roughly 2X all privately held wealth in order to fund their retirement. Even if you have kids, they will likely be so heavily taxed that they will be unable to provide assistance.
You're shipwrecked on an island with some other people. The supplies on the island can support you for years, but not forever. Across the water is a town with food and water, more people, companionship, real shelter, employment, etc...
On the beach sit a bunch of row boats. A few of your fellow castaways hop in boats and desperately try to reach the shore. You watch in horror as half of the boats sink, drowning their occupants, and leaving the rest to hungry sharks. You even try taking a boat yourself, it sinks and you somehow manage to swim back to the island, almost drowning and with a bloody shark bite on your leg.
There sits another boat in front of you. Want to take another ride?
(In this analogy sharks represent divorce lawyers)
"Perhaps you care to respond with some farting noise now."
If you wish.
I'm happily married. I've also been divorced. My ex-wife and I got our divorce, after 17 years, by going to a divorce mediator. We divided our assets equally. We're both good earners, so there was never any discussion about spousal support. We had no children, so there was no child support discussion, either. After we were divorced, we remained on good terms.
I've remarried and am now married to my current wife for 14 years.
It's all a two-way street. Having met some men who have refused any responsibility for their children after a divorce, I guess I'm just not all that sympathetic. One guy I know went so far as to leave the country to avoid paying child support for his own children.
It works both ways.
Not really. They could room with each other, like the Golden Girls.
If you want to take it all the way back, we could go to Adam and Eve...but the family thing came more noticable this time around after WWI....
I am in complete agreement with you.
With greater prosperity people do not feel the need propagate the world with progeny because they will be able to save enough for themselves to pay people to take care of them in times of infirmary (or depend on the government).
Thus, in the US, Old Europe, Australia and Japan the birthrate has decreased to the point of receding population unless immigrants from poor countries are allowed in.
I do not believe this to be a difference between Baby Boomers and Gen X/Y. It is the perils of prosperity.
Being 40 with kids under 10, I would encourage couples to have kids in their 20s. They can wear me out!
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.
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