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“This churning, this turnover in our intimate partnerships is creating complex families on a scale we’ve not seen before,” said Andrew J.Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.“We’re seeing a class divide not only between the haves and the have-nots, but between the I do’s and the I do nots,” Dr. Those who are enjoying the perks of a good marriage “wouldn’t stand for any other kind,” she said, while those who would benefit most from marital stability “are the ones least likely to have the resources to sustain it.” Yet across the divide runs a white picket fence, our unshakable star-spangled belief in the value of marriage and family. “It means everything,” said Linda Mc Adam, 28, who is in human resources on Long Island. “It’s almost like a weight,” said Rob Fee, 26, a financial analyst in San Francisco, “a heavy weight.” Or as the comedian George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” In charting the differences between today’s families and those of the past, demographers start with the kids — or rather the lack of them.We marry, divorce and remarry at rates not seen anywhere else in the developed world. The nation’s birthrate today is half what it was in 1960, and last year hit its lowest point ever.In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows.
They love crossword puzzles, football, going to museums and reading five or six books at a time.
One big reason is the soaring cost of ushering offspring to functional independence.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class couple will spend 1,080 to raise a child to age 18.
The typical American family, if it ever lived anywhere but on Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving canvas, has become as multilayered and full of surprises as a holiday turducken — the all-American seasonal portmanteau of deboned turkey, duck and chicken.
Researchers who study the structure and evolution of the American family express unsullied astonishment at how rapidly the family has changed in recent years, the transformations often exceeding or capsizing those same experts’ predictions of just a few journal articles ago.