ON-Lion Letter
Looking back 20 years, to 1998, "the American family appeared to be in serious trouble -- at least according to the statistics," according to David Popenoe in an August research brief for the Institute for American Values (IAV) in New York City.  "Yet few academics, politicians, and journalists were at all alarmed.  A common theme among many family experts was that family weakening or decline was only a 'myth.'"

Popenoe is a professor of sociology emeritus and co-director of The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.  He is also the author of several books, including War Over the Family and Life without Father:  Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society.

In his IAV paper, "The American Family, 1998-2028:  Looking Back and Looking Forward," Popenoe then notes that academic and opinion leaders have since been won over to the idea that families have at least been growing weaker. 

Looking forward, he writes that "[s]trong families remain essential for a strong and health society and irreplaceable for successful child rearing and for satisfying the deeper social-emotional needs of both adults and children.  This fact leads one to think that perhaps future generations of Americans will want to make a cultural shift back in the direction of two-parent families held together by lifelong marriage.

"It is hard to envision this scenario in the very near future, but over the course of the next twenty years," he concludes, "signs of this change could become evident."

The brief was commissioned by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) in Gaithersburg, Md., and supported by a federal grant.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee also supports both IAV and NFI.
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |