Many pundits in the US, who espouse “family values,” lament the supposed decline of the “traditional” American family. For instance, they often blame the increase in single-mother households as contributing to poverty and consider the high divorce rate to be driven by the “collapse” of traditional values. The legalization of same-sex marriage in many states in the US is viewed by them as further proof that America has lost its moral compass. These pundits often cite multiple reasons for their opposition to non-traditional families, including, that they: violate certain religious values, are not good for children growing up in these families; and are “unnatural.” Do you agree that the changes in the nature and composition of families in the US represent a moral decline? Why? or Why not? In thinking about these issues, please take into account the following:
- The proponents of “traditional” marriage often claim that a heterosexual and monogamous union is the most “natural” form of marriage (implying that non-conventional forms of marriage are “unnatural”). Have monogamy and heterosexual unions been the only or dominant forms of marriages worldwide? Please incorporate information from the chapters on marriage and family in your response.
- Is there a connection between growing up in a two-parent household and the likelihood of attending college and lifetime income? Does this connection, if it exists, necessarily mean that two-parent households do a better job of raising children?
- What do you think about the idea that children need both male and female role models while growing up, and a “traditional” family is the best way of providing them?
- A lot of the opposition to same-sex families comes from religious people who consider these families as violating their religious beliefs (about the meaning and purpose of marriage). Do you think a multicultural society should base its definition of marriage on a religious foundation? What does anthropology tell us about the purpose and function of marriage across cultures?