American families are characterized by great diversity. The traditional family has undergone numerous changes in recent decades. Factors that have led to these changes include divorce, remarriage, teen pregnancy and changes in social values.
Family types now include: the traditional nuclear family with husband, wife and children; joint-custody families with divorced parents sharing child custody; cohabiting families where unmarried men and women may or may not be raising children; single-parent families where children are being raised by only one parent due to death, divorce, abandonment or never-married; child-free families made up of couples who choose not to have children; blended or step-families created by married couples who have one or more children from a previous marriage, and may have one or more children of their own; families headed by gays or lesbians which may or may not include children; and grandparents parenting grandchildren, due to the illness, death or non-involvement of the parent.
Although families can be formed in many different ways, it is important to remember that most families accomplish similar tasks—such as childrearing, providing for basic needs, socializing members, establishing family traditions and delegating responsibility. Few other social institutions have as great an impact on society as the family. All the more reason for working towards strengthening today’s family.
Source: University of Missouri Extension