Family Diversity: Blessing or Curse?
A family refers to a group of people who are related to each other and live under the same roof. Three methods can be used in studying families: the cultural deviant approach, cultural equivalent approach and the cultural variant approach.
The cultural deviant approach looks at diversity in families as a negative rather than a positive thing. It defines a family as a unit which is made up of a father, mother and children. The roles of the man and woman in the family are clearly stated. The father is the leader of the family and the only one authorized to go to work and provide for the family. The woman, on the other hand, stays home to focus on home-making. This involves caring for their children and nurturing them. It is important to note, however, that this view of family does not reflect other families such as the African American and the Asian families which have slightly different structures. Among these families, both the man and woman are engaged in income generating activities. Hence they both equally provide finances for the use of their families (Stewart & Paz, P. 5).
The current situation where women have become financial contributors to the finances of the family is a good thing. However, researchers like Frazier explained that such women behaved as they did because they came from families which had a single parent or strained family relations. Women from these families gave rise to the cultural equivalent approach of viewing families where all families are viewed as the same and there is no distinction between them. The cultural variant approach to family diversity opens one’s eye to the significance which is brought about by diversity such as resilience in the midst of adversity which is the strength of most African American families.
Previous research work done on families has not been focused on the aspect of diversity. However, in the recent past, more attention is being given to this subject. This has been brought about by facts like the change in the definition of a family, more interest in the subject, redefinition of diversity and calls to incorporate racially mixed persons in the study (Stewart & Paz, p. 11). This has been steered farther by the demography of the United States as outlined in its population. The US population is unique in that it is more diverse as far as race, ethnicity, music, art and many others are concerned. This has been brought about by the influx of immigrants who have settled there. This diversity has affected education attainment, unemployment rates and income generation. The black Americans have the highest unemployment rates with Asians being more educated and generating more income (Stewart & Paz, p. 26).
The success of Family science research which is a young field has been further hindered by lack of a proper definition of the family unit. The field, however has high prospects due to the United States’ diversity. Most recently, diversity is no longer viewed negatively. It has become a hallmark in the society. The family is also viewed as not only important to an individual’s wellbeing but also to the whole society since individuals making up the society are shaped by families. The leadership roles in the family have been reviewed so that the man is the “instrumental leader” and the woman is the “expressive leader.” (Stewart & Paz, p.49-50). Influencing the family has also been the rise of feminism which claims that women are burdened by responsibilities in the family as there exists unequal allocation of work.
In conclusion, family diversity is a blessing. A reality which needs to be embraced to harness the positive value it adds to the society and nations at large. Involvement of women in income generating activities also improves economies (Cohen, p. 5).
Stewart, Pearl and Katia, Paz. History and Trends in the Study of Culturally Diverse families, Chapter 1: Historical Trends in the Study of Diverse Families. Print
Cohen, Philip. Family diversity is the new normal for America’s children. University of Maryland. Web. 2014