Long gone are the days when families only consisted of a man and woman with 2.3 kids. New generations have taken a different stance and have proven that living a joyful life is possible no matter the family makeup.

In some cases, people did not choose their circumstances. They had no choice but to be a single parent or could not have children due to biological reasons. Same-sex marriages have also added a new dynamic to starting a family, and some couples choose not to have children altogether.

Choosing to have or not have children in a relationship affects the couples’ income, the strength of the relationship and numerous other aspects. Our goal was to determine the different family dynamics that exist and how they vary. 

- Nuclear Family -

Otherwise known as a traditional or elementary family, a nuclear family consists of two parents, usually married, and their children. A nuclear family has one or more children, who are biological or adopted and raised by their parents. 

Although nuclear families have declined in the last several years, statistics show that most children in the U.S. live in nuclear families. The divorce rate is high for nuclear families, but most children prefer this dynamic. 

Most couples choose to have children as it gives them the satisfaction of passing on their knowledge and assets to a family member. They also want to preserve their family heritage and feel that the best way to do that is by having biological children.

  Strengths

  • Children raised in a stable parenting.
  • Emphasis on health and education.
  • Focus on communication.

  Weaknesses

  • Juvenile delinquency.
  • Emotional dependency of the husband-wife and parent-child relationship. (10)
  • Excluding extended family could result in isolation.

Although studies have shown that most children prefer to live in nuclear families, statistics show that most marriages do not last. American Psychological Association reported that 40-50 percent of married couples in the U.S. divorce. (2)

The average household for a middle-class American family was estimated at $91,000.

The average number of children under 18 in a family in 2018 was 1.9. (4)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of married couples with children had hit an all-time low in 2017. The statistics revealed that 23,651,000 married couples in America had children. The last time there were lower numbers than that was in 1961 when the number of married couples with kids was 23,514,000. (8)

- DINKS -

The slang phrase DINKS stands for Dual Income, No Kids. The household consists of two incomes and no children. Both parents could work, or one works and has two incomes. 

Salespeople love DINKS. The biggest reason is that not having a child to look after and two incomes mean that the couple has more disposable income. Some couples choose not to have children while others ended up in that situation due to circumstance. 

Instead of saving money for college, DINKS can increase their expenditure on meals and vacation. The other benefit of not having a child is that DINKS couples don’t require as much living space. They can opt for a one-bedroom apartment, as opposed to a three-bedroom house.

DINKS choose not to have children for various reasons. One of the main reasons is that they want to focus on their marriage and do not want to complicate it by having children. They also feel that they would take a significant risk by having a child due to divorce. Their worry is that the child would feel abandoned by not being surrounded all the time by the other parent.

  Strengths

  • More disposable income.
  • Flexibility with their time.
  • Less living space required.

  Weaknesses

  • Frequent overspending.
  • The woman has to work instead of being a stay-at-home mom.
  • Nobody to carry on the family name.

Census reported statistics that revealed the largest portion of adults living without children were among 25 to 34-year-olds. The statistics revealed that 61.5 percent of adults in that age group were without children. (3)

The average income for married couples with no children was $91,870 per year. That means they made more money than couples who had children. Since they made more money and did not incur child expenses, the additional money allowed them to spend it on leisure.

- Single Parent -

Although many people feel sorry for single parents, some have chosen that circumstance. A single-parent family consists of an adult who has one or more children and can be widowed or divorced. 

Some adults have chosen to be single parents, but one of the main reasons for single parents is the rise in divorce. One of the other reasons is births out of wedlock. Studies have shown that adults who choose to be single parents have done so due to changing morals in society or arguments with their former partners about gender roles.

Whether due to choice or circumstance, single parents have become more prominent. More adults every year have proven that a single parent can raise a child. At times, it may be difficult, but it is doable. 

Some people make a conscious decision to be single parents. They want to raise a child by themselves without the interference of another adult. Some single parents do not want to be in a relationship but want to have children.

  Strengths

  • The parent and the child become close.
  • Conditions the child to be independent.
  • Household duties are shared.

  Weaknesses

  • Can be difficult to survive on one income.
  • Working full-time and taking care of the child can be complex.
  • The child gets attention only from a mother or a father.

Being a single parent can be tough, and statistics have shown that many people in the U.S. do not have a partner who helps them raise their child or children. The U.S. Census Bureau indicated that 13.7 million people are single parents in the country. 

The statistics revealed that those 13 million people are raising 22 million children. That’s almost two children per single parent. Furthermore, the statistics revealed that 82% of custodial parents were mothers. 

The average income of a single mother in 2017 was $41,700. That is less than half of what the average married couple makes.

- Same-Sex Couples -

Much like other family dynamics, same-sex couples may have children or choose not to raise a child. The Washington Post reported a study that concluded children from same-sex marriages had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school than children from different-sex couples. (1)

Same-sex couples who choose to have children will incur higher costs than straight couples who have a biological child. They have to factor in insemination or adoption costs. One of the advantages that same-sex couples have over other dynamics is that in many cases both of them work, which means a higher household income. 

Whereas some straight couples will hold out on having children due to finances, same sex partners are likely to have money to afford a child.

  Strengths

  • More disposable income due to both parents working.
  • The child gets extra attention.
  • Adoptive parents provide a better life for the child than welfare communities.

  Weaknesses

  • The child may experience discrimination. (11)
  • Will incur high costs for adoption or insemination.
  • The child does not get attention from a mother in a male marriage and vice versa.

The Census Bureau is working towards determining the exact number of same-sex marriages in the U.S, but statistics revealed that male sex couples with dependent children had an average income of $264,000. That is more than double of female couples and straight couples with dependent children. (6)

A survey conducted on the LGBTQ community indicated that over 700,000 couples in the U.S were in cohabiting same-sex relationships. An estimate reveals that 114,000 of those were raising children. That figure was further split, with 86,000 were female couples, and 28,000 were males couples. (9)

- Extended Family -

Who said that a family was limited to only parents and children? The belief that families need to be nuclear has waned, and extended families have been the norm for many generations.

Extended families consist of more than two adults related through blood or marriage, along with their children. The typical composition of an extended family is a parent living with their children and their children’s grandparents. 

One of the key reasons that some families prefer this dynamic is that the family lives together for social support. The elderly couple receives support from the rest of the family and provides support by raising the children while the parents are at work.

  Strengths

  • Household responsibility is shared.
  • Children are raised to have elderly respect
  • Social support.

  Weaknesses

  • Lack of privacy.
  • Financial struggles if the grandparents are financially dependent.
  • Grandparents may struggle to keep up with the children.

Statistics revealed that 17% of all households in the country live in extended families. (5)

We have already determined that the average income for a married couple with children was $91,000 annually, but we wanted to find out the average income of the extended family. 

The average income for an annual pension per person was $24,000.  

- Multi-Generational Family -

If you thought that extended families were large, try living in a multi-generational family. The U.S. Census Bureau defines multi-generational families as consisting of more than two generations that live under the same roof. That means parents are living with their children and their children’s grandparents, as well as at least one other generation.

Statistics have revealed that multi-generational families have exponentially increased in the last few years in American households. Families engage in multi-generational dynamics for various reasons such as marrying late, immigration of Latin American and Asians, who are more likely to live in multi-generational families in America,  as well as financial and health support.

Love and support are crucial ingredients for making a multi-generational family work. Children have to get along with their grandparents, as well as their great grandparents. Hard work is required to make that dynamic possible, but statistics have shown that numerous families are doing it.

  Strengths

  • Children receive a tremendous amount of care.
  • Finances improved if grandparents and great-grandparents receive pensions.
  • Children receive knowledge and perspective from different generations.

  Weaknesses

  • Financial issues if the older generations do not receive pensions.
  • Larger accommodation required.
  • Privacy is scarce.

Pew Research Center showed that 64 million Americans live in multigenerational households under one roof. The most common type of multigenerational consists of two adult generations, such as parents and their adult children. The center defines adult children as being 25 years or older. (7)

The research also showed that households with three or more generations housed 28.4 million people. The other interesting statistic was that fewer than a million people were part of a household that had more than three generations. 

Final Thoughts

The different family dynamics in the U.S. have several advantages and disadvantages. Although most children prefer to grow up in nuclear families, the rise of same-sex couples, single parents and extended families have shown that more children every year are becoming accustomed to different dynamics.

Most children in the country grow up in nuclear families, but children that grow up in different dynamics tend to have some advantages over children who grew up in traditional families. 

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