Family Breakdowns and Re-Formations: Divorce and Post-Divorce
According to Cherlin, the change in the social functions that a family has, and, weirdly enough, baby boomers (social structural factors), as well as a shift toward individualism and the lack of family support (individual risk factors) are most likely to trigger divorces (Cherlin, 2013).
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A very complicated and complex process, divorce has multiple effects on every member of the family. Children are most likely to feel unhappy and have divorces when they create their own families. Single parents will most likely face financial and psychological crises. However, in some cases, a single parent might feel relief after the divorce procedure.
The key problem of studying a stepfamily is to embrace all the possibilities of the kinship ties development between the step-children and the step-parents (Cherlin, 2013).
Children in step-families face the same issues as children of divorced parents. Girls in step-families are more likely to leave sooner, Cherlin warns (Cherlin, 2013).
Even though a child raised without a father faces serious issues, there are some ways to minimize the threat, including 1) the support from the father even in case the mother moves with the child, 2) bring down the poverty rates among single mothers; 3) make sure that “local policies do not discourage marriage” (Cherlin, 2013).
The findings concerning the effects of divorce on children can be considered questionable, since the families chosen as the object of research are typically not quite normal, to begin with (Kelly & Emery, 2003).
The stranger model presupposes that the stepparent is related to as a stranger, whereas the dependency model acknowledges the fact that the stepparent provides for the child (Mason, 2003).
Negativists deny the possibility of step-parenting, voluntarists recognize the risks yet accept the possibility of step-parenting, while reformers are in favor of step-parenting (Mason, 2003).
According to what Crohn says, the research was focused on nineteen middle-class educated women of roughly 23.4 years each.
The research is based on the classification provided by Berger, Burgoyne, and Clark, Church, Erera-Weatherly, and Gross, the women in the research were evaluated according to the existing five types of stepmother. As the research showed, each of the women reported that their stepmothers never tried to replace their mothers (Crohn, 2013).
As a rule, in a ground-based divorce, the person to blame for the breakup is clearly defined, whereas, in a no-fault divorce, the decision to part was made by the couple unanimously and peacefully.
Among the unexpected consequences of no-fault divorces, the drops in the predictability of marriage outcomes should be noted.
There are several basic types of domestic violence, i.e., situational violence, which usually does not presuppose controlling behavior, and intimate terrorism, which is recurrent and often involves physical harm (Cherlin, 2013a). The participants of family violence are usually children and adult women.
Other Challenges to Family Formation: Domestic Violence and Institutionalizations
Although family violence is very hard to reveal, there are some ways to spot the problem and prevent violence from recurring. As a rule, state interventions are used to learn more about domestic violence and fight them efficiently.
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There are three basic reasons for people to treat their partners and/or children violently: 1) struggle for dominance; 2) following the pattern previously learned from one’s parents; 3) frustration-aggression (replacing the subject of irritation/anger with the wife/children) (Cherlin, 2013a).
Intimate terrorism usually presupposes that the victim is completely helpless. Violent resistance, on the contrary, involves violent outbursts due to the pressure from the abuser. In its turn, common couple violence means that both the husband and the wife have constant fights, yet remain equal to each other.
The goal of intimate terrorism is usually to feel superior to the abused partner. Traditional strategies can be split into verbal and physical abuse categories (Johnson, 2008).
As Leisenring (2008) explains, it was not until the 90s that the issue of partner abuse in families finally started being addressed.
Sadly enough, the promoters of mandatory arrest policies do not understand that, once the abuser is released, (s)he is most likely to treat his/her victim even more violently.
As Blaisure et al. (2012) explain, the key stress factors that contribute to the feeling of alienation in the military families is the pressure that every single member of the family is exposed to. According to Blaisure et al. (2012), such families are called “greedy institutions” (Blaisure et al., 2012, 40), since they demand too much love, devotion, commitment, and compliance with the rules from every member.
Despite the aforementioned issues, military families seem to have been tackling these problems quite well by following the so-called norms, or, to be more exact, a specific set of rules that provide guidelines for actions in specific situations. By using implicit and explicit norms, the leader of a military family can coordinate the actions of its members. Besides, each of the family members is assigned a particular role, which dictates a specific behavioral pattern (Blaisure et al., 2013).
As the movie called A sentence apart (n. d.) shows, incarcerations tear the very fabric of the family apart. The interactions between the people who have been imprisoned and their children are more than heartbreaking: “One thing that hurts is when you see her child come in prison – I chuckle down” (A sentence apart, n. d.).
Lack of money and family background are usually the reasons why poor families are considered the ones that are especially subjected to family violence.
Every type of institutionalization affects a typical family in that it dictates specific roles for its members and creates stereotypical patterns for the latter to follow. Institutionalizations differ in the types of changes that they have on families.
According to Cherlin (2013a), sex is traditionally referred to as a biological concept, whereas gender is usually perceived as a social one.
Social factors and family: gender
There are three basic ways for children to accept and learn their gender roles. First, children identify themselves with one of their parents and try to follow him/her; second, children learn about their gender roles with the help of mass media; third, gender roles are learned through interaction with other kids and playing either dolls (which nurtures motherly instincts) or active games that involve simulation of a fight (which develops the instincts of the head of a family).
The movement of married women into the labor force has once and for all redefined gender roles, making it clear that gender and sex are not necessarily inseparable concepts.
As a rule, when both the wife and the husband are working, they split household chores so that each could have an equal amount of chores to do. Thus, marriage equality is provided. Naturally, conflicts are unavoidable, yet it is essential that sharing responsibilities allows for an adequate solution to conflicts.
Gender belongs to a social dimension, whereas sex belongs to the biological one. In contrast to, say, primary or secondary sexual characters, gender specifics can be acquired, developed, or shaped under the influence of social norms and traditions (West & Zimmerman, 1987).
To study the strength of people’s belief in particular gender stereotypes, the authors used such methods as mixed (qualitative and quantitative) research, observing a group of schoolchildren and assessing their behavior (Risman & Seale, 2010).
It is quite peculiar that, according to the results of Risman and Seale’s study, the children were educated on the issue of feminism and did not have a notoriously traditional chauvinist attitude towards women; however, several boys were homophobic in that they considered the very concept of homosexuality as a pejorative term (Risman & Seale, 2010).
As Carberra, Shannon and Tamis-LeMonda explain, “In summary, fathers’ resources and mother supportiveness are significantly related to supportive father engagement at most ages” (Carberra, Shannon & Tamis-LeMonda, 2007, 211).
However, it should also be kept in mind that fathers’ parenting is significantly different from the one of mothers. According to the research, fathers tend to be more supportive throughout the entire childhood stage and are less intrusive into their children’s educational issues, whereas mothers tend to be more controlling.
People pay close attention to social traits and factors, though usually, they do not give an account of the process of recognition and analysis of the latter two, since it is crucial for every human being to integrate into society successfully, which means playing by the society’s rules.
In a family, gender differences can be reflected a) through the roles of a breadwinner and the one doing the household chores; b) by assigning one of the family members with the role of a leader and decision-maker (the masculine role), while the partner will respectively take the feminine role.
A sentence apart (n. d.). Web.
Blaisure, K. R. et al. (2012). Defining features of military families. In K. R. Blaisure et al. (Eds.), Military families in the 21st century. New York, NY: Routledge.
Carberra,N. J., Shannon, J. D. & Tamis-LeMonda, C. (2007). Fathers’ influence on their children’s cognitive and emotional development: From toddlers to pre-K. Applied Development Science, 11(4), 208–213.
Cherlin, A. J. (2013). Public and private families: An introduction (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Cherlin, A. J. (2013a). Public and private families: A reader (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Crohn, H. M. (2013). Five styles of positive stepmothering from the perspective of young adult stepdaughters. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46(1-2), 19–134.
Johnson, M. P. (2008). A typology of domestic violence: Intimate terrorism, violent resistance, and situational couple violence. New England, NY: Northeastern University Press.
Kelly, J. B. & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children’s adjustment following divorce: Risk and resilience perspectives. Family Relations, 52(4), 352–362.
Leisenring, A. (2008). Controversy surrounding mandatory arrest policies and the police response to intimate partner violence. Sociology Compass, 2(2), 451–466.
Mason, M. A. (2003). The modern American family: Problems and possibilities. In M. A. Mason, A. Skolnick & S. D. Sugarman (Eds.), All our families. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Risman, B. J. & Seale, E. (2010). Betwixt and between: Gender contradictions in middle school. In B. J. Risman (Ed.), All our families,. New York, NY: Norton.
West, C. & Zimmerman, D. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1(2), 125–151.