America’s Thanksgiving tables yesterday may have looked a bit different than, say, the 1950s. The changing family dynamics is a fact the New York Times is applauding in a new piece glorifying the increasing diversity of American households, be it blended families, same-sex partnerships or cohabitation.
From “The Changing American Family”:
The typical American family, if it ever lived anywhere but on Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving canvas, has become as multilayered and full of surprises as a holiday turducken — the all-American seasonal portmanteau of deboned turkey, duck and chicken.
While diversity is something to encourage, I believe in the home there is still no greater institution than the traditional family. It provides stability and comfort – especially for children growing up in uncertain climates.
Granted, the Times piece did begin to suggest family was still a cherished institution. But, that suggestion was quickly clarified.
“It’s the backbone of how we live,” said David Anderson, 52, an insurance claims adjuster from Chicago. “It means everything,” said Linda McAdam, 28, who is in human resources on Long Island.
Yes, everything, and sometimes too many things. “It’s almost like a weight,” said Rob Fee, 26, a financial analyst in San Francisco, “a heavy weight.” Or as the comedian George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
A large part of this “weight” or burden, according to the Times, is the cost of raising a child.
The nation’s birthrate today is half what it was in 1960.
One big reason is the soaring cost of ushering offspring to functional independence. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class couple will spend $241,080 to raise a child to age 18. Factor in four years of college and maybe graduate school, or a parentally subsidized internship with the local theater company, and say hello to your million-dollar bundle of oh joy.
To wrap up, the Times has encouraged the breakdown of the traditional family and put a price on children.
What, pray tell, is wrong with the white picket fence? America is founded on tradition and our strong families are a major part of our country’s success. Family is something to strive for, not avoid.
The moral implications notwithstanding, broken or nontraditional families can also have a negative impact on the country’s economic growth. Children without fathers, for instance, are much more likely to grow up in poverty, abuse drugs and alcohol or go to prison.
But, the New York Times is only concerned with diversity and making the Thanksgiving table as “multilayered” as possible.