Americans ambivalent toward single-parent families

April 23rd, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 23 (IANS) Although single-parent families have come to stay, little is known about the evolution of attitudes towards them.
Results of the study show that the matter ceased to be an issue in magazines and journals, reflecting an ambivalent acceptance of divorce.

There was even less evidence of any softening of attitudes toward childbearing without marriage during the 20th century.

Popular and scholarly articles were as likely to include negative depictions of such childbearing at the end of the century as they had at its beginning.

And they remained highly likely to depict both divorce and non-marital childbearing as harmful - especially to children — throughout the century.

“My findings raise an important question as to why Americans form single-parent families at very high rates and yet continue to express deep ambivalence toward them,” said Margaret L. Usdansky of Syracuse University, who conducted the study.

“Couples in many European countries form single-parent families at similarly high rates but are less worried about the result. Americans place more emphasis on marriage as a personal goal and as the ideal setting in which to raise children,” she said.

Usdansky explored depictions of single-parent families in samples of popular magazine and social science journals, said a Syracuse University release.

By collecting original data spanning the last century, Usdansky was able to analyse attitudes toward single-parent families over this period and how they varied depending on whether the family resulted from divorce or nonmarital childbearing.

These findings were published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

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