The Not-So-Average American Family November 08 2011

Nowadays the importance, purpose, and shape of a family seems to differ from one home to the next. While some families preach the importance of being together and tackling life's hardships as one, not all families practice such ideas. Some families are defined by a father, mother, and children while others are made up of a number of relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even cousins. On the flip side, other families are made up of simply a mom and her child. Modern times have changed social roles, provided an unsettled economy, and as time has passed, the meaning of family has simply imploded. The definition of a standard family is no longer religion-based in most people's minds, but more so based on political and economic situations.

In the last few years, marriage rates, divorce rates, and even birthrates have all dropped, despite the fact that many of us are used to hearing that some of these numbers are actually on the rise. But, in time's of uncertainty, it seems that many of us put our lives on hold in some way or another. When we push the brakes on life and push things such as pregnancy, marriage, and even divorce to the side, the number of families not only decreased but so does the overall quality of family life.

Moving Out Only To Move Back In

We typically expect a family to be made up of parents and their children, but we expect that in time, when the children are old enough to go to college, they move out, grow, learn, and venture the world that is before them. Moving out of your parent's home has always been deemed as a necessary step in growing up and obtaining your own sense of independence. Not many twenty year olds in today's world want to admit that they are still living with mom and dad as it's not the "cool" or "grown up" thing to do and being a social non-start is never good for the ego. So with such thoughts in mind, many college students opt to attend college away from home, leaving behind obvious stability and safety.

As Dr. Lowrance expained, "Some countries have laws that make the parents take their grown children back in and support them until they have an eduction or get a job. By law they have to pay for their kids' food and housing. That delays personal development. Nobody will ever grow up if they're taken care of perpetually by their parents."

But, in today's world, with foreclosure rates exploding, unemployment rates growing at tremendous rates, and jobs paying less and less, though college students may be moving out, they're also moving back in. A study conducted by Twentysomething Inc. discovered that 85% off 2011's graduating class will be moving back home not too long after earning their college degree. Earning a degree should be a time of celebration and pride, but earning a degree in today's world comes with an average cost of $27,200 in debt.

Today Families Akin To The Waltons?

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="275" caption="Publicity photo of Richard Thomas and Ellen Corby from the television program The Waltons."][/caption]

At the same time that college students are moving back in with mom and dad, so are other relatives. As Dr. Don Lowrance explained, the modern American family may be revisiting families of the past. "If the economy continues to worsen, we're going to have more of a 1940's lifestyle, and we'll see more and more of this. Those types of families, where hopefully Grandma and Grandpa are there in a supporting role, but they're part of the family unit, and they're not some place else where you see them once or twice a year."

Dr. Lowrance has first-hand, personal experience with this old-fashioned type of family where many generations live under the same roof. Though his daughter and son-in-law never asked for him to move in, Lowrance holds family to a high value and believed that by moving in, his grand daughter wouldn't suffer from the hectic life of having a mother working a full time job and a father attending college for an engineering degree. This way, everyone in the family is taken care of and though many would frown upon having their parents move in, in some cases nowadays, having extra parental and familial care is best.

As he explained his situation, "They were going to do this regardless. We saw a need and we offered the idea to them and then had to talk them into it. We could see that my grand daughter would be the one who would suffer in all this and we didn't want our grand daughter to be in a day care center and not have the care of a family member and instead be cared for by a hired helper."

With such busy schedules and fast-paced life, having extra support is a must in many households today, no matter if it means moving back in, allowing a family member to live with you, or simply accepting the fact that the road to adulthood and complete independence is much longer than it ever has been. Even in today's world, the most driven and go-getter people have to rely upon others for help. And while many may see it as shameful, life today has changed when compared to how life was before. With a shaky economic situation and continuous changes in government and banking policies, independence can take much more time to achieve. But in the end, such changes may not be completely negative, as tough times usually allow for the importance of family and relationships to shine brighter than ever.

Ashley Pages is a writing superstar for Off-Topic Media. Special thanks to Dr. Don Lowrance, a Corpus Christi sleep apnea dentist, father, and grand father, for sharing his thoughts with us. He can be reached at:

Don H. Lowrance, DDS
4707 Everhart Road #101
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
(361) 851-8274