The Family as an Institution in American Society


Since time immemorial, American families just like others around the world have been facing many challenges. The common ones are divorce and separation, financial crisis, unfaithfulness amongst the spouses, lack of transparency, insubordination, and other familial issues (Hellen, 2004).

The major marital problems that have been experienced by most families are separation and divorce. Separation does not necessarily mean that a couple breaks up because of their differences. It also refers to situations in which family members have to live apart from each other because of unforeseeable circumstances. This may cover those holding foreign jobs or studying abroad. A father may have to relocate to a different place even out of the country to work to provide for his family. This paper focuses on a commonplace marital issue; divorce.


Divorces cases are the most prevalent of all family-related issues. It mostly affects children. This is because, in case of a divorce, they often lack a father or mother figure depending on which parent has left. Most children have been known to experience depression because they are dumbfounded by a divorce and take long before they readjust. This can be worsened when either parent ends up re-marrying other partners who will never be accepted by children. Although divorced parents may share the custody of the children depending on the terms laid out by a court or any other settlement, it would never be like if both parents were together and being there for their children.

This problem was looked into and it has been discovered that it is more disadvantageous when a spouse chooses to stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the children. This is yet another concern because in as much as spouses would like to stay together for their children’s sake it would not help much. With time, children come to realize that the parents are together for convenience. This makes them feel bad because the parents are not together out of love; they are together to make the children happy (Hellen, 2004).

Causes of divorce

For a family to remain united and live comfortably, parents must be able to manage the available finances very well. Some families have been on the verge of falling apart or even disintegrated because parents could not agree on spending or allocating the family’s money. This normally happens if one partner is extravagant or is not contributing enough to the family kitty. In an ideal setting, the man is responsible for providing the family with basic needs. If he disregards his responsibilities, the wife and children may be forced to do so. In extreme cases, this would be a viable reason for the wife and children to walk away. Poor management of family finance has been known to cause divorce.

Transparency and accountability is important for all family members. Some families have had to live in sorrow because one or several members have either been not accountable or transparent as expected of them. For example, a man may have another family and did not let his wife know or a wife is keeping a child elsewhere and did not say about it. At one point in time into a marriage, if one spouse gets knowledge of the other’s secrets then the union is virtually over. A partner will not only be disappointed but also lose trust with the other. Marriages which experience such a debacle usually break (Burgess, 2003).

Bad influence

These days, children are exposed to so many dangers. There are many negative effects that have affected the family unit as whole. Access to internet has made it possible for children to learn bad habits. It is true that most children have gone ahead to practice vices. The major ones are drug abuse and indulging in dangerous sexual activities. Many teenagers and young adults have been reported to be drug and sex addicts. Most rehabilitation centers have young people making up to 75 percent of their population. This has been devastating to both their parents and siblings. Some cases even cause tensions within marriages especially when parents could not agree on remedial action for the affected children. Some children have even lost their lives or ended up being imprisoned because of their actions.

Conflicts of interests

Several times in our families there have been experiences of conflict of interest. Some parents usually preconceived plans of the careers for their children to pursue. They do not even take time to understand their children’s interest or talents. When the children do not meet their parents’ expectations, there occurs misunderstanding between the two parties. Parents should openly talk with their children and understand what their children’s ambitions are. Parents also have an obligation to advise their children to enable them make right choices. Parents should support their children to achieve their targets and not dictate what careers they should take.

The American family

The greatest challenge that American parents have had to deal with is bringing up their children. It is such a long process and consumes so much time. Children are a source of joy to the parents and the extended family at large but making ensuring that they grow up to be disciplined and responsible adults is just but a huge task for the parents (Kirkpatrick, 2007).

First of all the parents have to be exemplary to their children even before they start telling them about good morals and values. American parents have had to look for alternative ways of disciplining their children because corporal punishment is forbidden. A typical day for parents is very busy and some of them have found it hard to allocate time for their children. The affected children end up feeling abandoned and do not grow up with enough love and attention that they deserve. Lack of proper care and guidance from parents give way for wrong influence. Parents are left with no option other than reproaching and reforming their children.

There are millions of spouses who are divorced in America. It is so because of various reasons that were considered real, regardless of whether there were children in the marriages or not. Most of these people have decided to get re-marry. The party that is mostly affected by re-marriages is the children. If they don’t get along with the step parents then the family is in to face all sorts of issues regarding the relationship between the new parents and the children. However, some families get along very well with the changes but some of them experience so many problems (Kirkpatrick, 2007).


Challenges are a normal in family life and should be dealt with by using the most appropriate solutions. When a couple wants to start a family, they should take time talk about the family life and plan appropriately. They should also seek counseling and guidance from experts and other relevant parties which are experienced in family life. This will assist to reduce cases of later indifferences in the family. A couple will have also equipped themselves with ways of handling familial problems. The typical American family never lacks problems. As time goes by, globalization shapes the way people interact; family problems multiply and become more intricate (Hellen, 2004).


Burgess, E. W. (2003).The family: From Institution to Companionship. Madison: American Book Co.

Hellen, J. M. (2004). Sociology: Essentials of Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach. 7th Ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Kirkpatrick, C. (2007). The Family: Process and Institution. Minnesota: Ronald Press.

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