Family Issues in the Future
As we have seen. families and intimate relationships changed dramatically during the twentieth century. Some people believe that the family as we know it is doomed. Others believe that a return to traditional family values will save this important social institution and create greater stability in society. However, the sociologist Lillian Rubin (1986: 89) suggests that clinging to a traditional image of families is hypocritical in light of our society's failure to support families: "We are after all, the only advanced industrial nation that has no public policy of support for the family whether with family allowances or decent publicly-sponsored childcare facilities" Some laws even have the effect of hurting children whose families do not fit the traditional model. For example, cutting back on government programs that provide food and medical care for pregnant women and infants will result in seriously ill children rather than model families (Aulette, 1994).
According to the psychologist Bernice Lott (1994 155), people's perceptions about what constitutes a family will continue to change in the future: Persons on whom one can depend for emotional support,-who are available in crises and emergencies,
or who provide continuing affections, concern, and companionship can be said to make up a family. Members of such a group' may live together in the same household or in separate households, alone or with others. mey may be related by birth, marriage, or a chosen commitment to one another that has not been legally formalized. Some of these changes are already becoming evident For example, many men are attempting to take an active role in raising their children and helping with
household chores. Many couples terminate abusive relationships and marriages.
Regardless of problems facing families today, many people still demonstrate their faith in the future by choosing to have children. It will be interesting to see what people today, some of whom are faced with various social and economic challenges, decide to do about having children. How many children will people have? What will family life be like in 2020? What will your own family be like?