Posted: July 31st, 2013

Compose a reflection of at least 400 words in which you explain what answer you believe Bianchi and Casper, Himmelfarb, Williams, and Koontz would give to the following question:

Should mothers and fathers do whatever it takes to make sure that mothers can stay home to be with and raise the children?

In your essay, convey the answer that you feel each selected author would be most likely to give to the question based on what the author has to say in his or her reading. The author does not explicitly address the question being asked; you will, therefore, have to understand each author well enough to predict accurately how he or she would be most likely to respond to the question. As you read the assigned texts, you should keep the question in mind, which, I hope, will help you determine what is most important in the reading and what you can merely skim.

Introduction to the Week’s Ideas:

Like the American citizen, today’s American Family is an institution of wide variety. The working family has been an economic part of this nation since its founding. Mother and father would work in or near the home while raising their family together. But as with all things in American lives today, the definition of the family is also changing.

Increased equality of opportunity for women (Week 4) and racial acceptance (Week 3) as well as choices in career, education, marriage and divorce mean the idealized version of the American family and the families of which most Americans are a member are very different. Increasingly single parent households have become a norm.

Your first questions might be, ‘What is the interest of government in the family?’ Why should government care? Generally, for most people having a family is the definition of “the pursuit of happiness” (Week Two). Historically families have been the preferred foundation for creating and raising children. Children raised in the ideal family including a male and female figure are more likely to be self-reliant members of society avoiding poverty, getting an education and being economically stable.

To better understand the dynamics of change in American society your readings this week will include an examination of recent U.S. Census figures, including the following:

Births to unmarried women by country,
Marriage and divorce rates by country,
Single parent households by country, and
Women in the workforce rates (marriage) by country.

Suzanne Bianchi and Lynne Casper’s article, ‘American Families’ gives you a detailed history of change from the historical family to the modern family. The Encyclopedia of Sociology provides and article, also entitled, ‘American Families,’ that dispels many of the assumed myths about families such as slave marriages, ‘a woman’s place is in the house’ and the “Golden Age of family life.”

As the American family changes, America herself changes. Learning to accept and understand these new families’ means having to re-examine what it means to be an American and understanding how your values, principles and ideals fit in this rapidly changing culture.

Census figures that present evidence on these topics:

Births to unmarried women by country
Marriage and divorce rates by country
Single Parent Households by country (1980 – 2008):


Women in the Workforce rates (Marriage) by Country


Suzanne M. Bianchi and Lynne Casper: “American Families” (2000):

Encyclopedia of Sociology: “American Families”


After you open the essay, scroll down to p. 120. The article is between pages 120 and 131. The references list for the article is between pages 131 and 133.

Gertrude Himmelfarb: “Second Thoughts on Civil Society”


Walter Williams: “The State Against Blacks”:


Note: Since our BU Library owns the Williams essay, you will be prompted to sign in with your BU ID and Password. Once you do, you should be given immediate access to the essay

Stephanie Koontz: “Taking Marriage Private” (2007):

Source page: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/international_statistics.html

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