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Why is the American family vanishing?

Why is the American family vanishing?

By Summer Lane

The American family is in steady decline, and the blame for this is multifaceted, according to a report from the Daily Wire.

As birth rates plummet across the country, the number of people getting married is dropping and the number of unmarried people cohabitating is rising. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2021 that only 50 percent of Americans are now living with their spouses. Additionally, the number of families with children living at home under the age of 18 dropped over the last 20 years to just 40 percent.

The anatomy of the quintessential American family has eroded significantly over the past several decades. There are a few factors that have contributed to this steady decline:

Falling fertility rates

The Daily Wire reveals in their report that there is only a 0.1 percent yearly birth rate increase in the U.S. (as of 2021), with the Census Bureau asserting that infertility was the top reason for this, as well as an aging population. Interestingly, as case rates of women experiencing infertility in the U.S. continue to rise, the total fertility rate (TFR) in other countries far outpaces that of America. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) shares in their TFR data that the top country as far as fertility and birthing is Niger, with Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, and multiple other African countries dominating the birth rate plateau. The United States, by contrast, was number 141 on the CIA’s TFR list, with only 1.84 babies born per woman. Why is fertility in American women declining while it is increasing in other countries?

The rise of cohabitation

The American family forms an integral part of the middle-class society in the United States, but that basic structure has been rendered decrepit by modern culture. According to the Daily Wire report, only 17.8 percent of American households with children have married parents. Children are growing up in an era that does not demonstrate traditional marital values of commitment or permanent partnership. The likelihood of children growing up in this environment and continuing the trend of cohabitation without permanent commitment is high, which further erodes the structure of the traditional family unit.

LGBTQ households are growing

According to a report from the Family Equality Council (FEC)in 2017, between two to three million children have a LGBTQ parent in the U.S., and at least 200,000 of them are being raised by a same-sex couple. This is a dynamic shift in the familial landscape of America, which in 1970 showcased 40 percent of American families being comprised of heterosexual married couples, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As social norms and lifestyles continue to shift in culture, the family unit as it has traditionally existed for thousands of years naturally begins to change as well. LGBTQ families are six times more likely to adopt or foster children than heterosexual couples, according to the FEC.

Young people aren’t seeking out marriage

American men and women are delaying marriage and family-building longer than ever before. A Business Insider report revealed that the median age of marriage for women, for example, is around 27.1. Further, the average age of marriage is 29.1 for men. Women and men alike are choosing careers over family in their 20s. Interestingly, when they do choose to have a family, most American households today average 1-2 kids, which is not enough to give the nation’s overall birth rate a boost, which further ties back into the increasing and troubling rates of infertility rising in the U.S.

Conclusion

While none of these statistics alone are single-handedly the cause of the collapse of the traditional American family, taken together as a whole, it’s easy to see why traditional Christian-Judeo family values and healthy home environments seem to be on life support. As Hollywood, media, education and even literature mocks Christian values and denigrates the value and reward of a strong, healthy marriage and family structure, can it be any wonder that America’s youngest generation is hesitant to get married and have children? Without the strength and core of the strong American family, it’s hard to picture the United States maintaining any kind of high ground in a national and global landscape that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christian family values. 

Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies in weekly op/Eds.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing about women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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