Much is going on in our country. Some of it is positive and some of it is negative. Something that seems to get little attention, at least in the media, is how our families are doing. What is the status of the family in America?
According to a 2015 Pew Research publication, “Family life is changing. Two-parent households are on the decline in the United States as divorce, remarriage and cohabitation are on the rise. And families are smaller now, both due to the growth of single-parent households and the drop in fertility.” For many of us, this should come as no surprise. We all know friends or family members who have been through a divorce. According to this same publication, less than 46% of households consist of two parents (a mom and a dad) in their first marriage.
Where it relates to childbearing Pew Research says “Fertility in the U.S. has been on the decline since the end of the post-World War II baby boom, resulting in smaller families. In the mid-1970s, a 40% plurality of mothers who had reached the end of their childbearing years had given birth to four or more children. Now, a similar share (41%) of mothers at the end of their childbearing years have had two children, and just 14% have had four or more children.” In layman’s terms, women are having fewer children now compared to decades past. What was Pew’s explanation? “Women’s increasing educational attainment and labor force participation, and improvements in contraception, not to mention the retreat from marriage, have all likely played a role in shrinking family size.”
This is all sobering, to say the least.
What am I getting at? The nuclear family is becoming less popular in America. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the nuclear family is “a family group that consists only of father, mother, and children.”
My friends tell me that I’m an optimistic person. I would agree. I recognize failure and then I naturally look for a way that redemption can occur. In this case, I searched for a positive statistic that would make this article provide a glimpse of hope to those who care deeply about the status of the family in America. I came up empty.
The reality is, from a statistical standpoint, the nuclear family in America is hurting. Why is this? Research might blame worldly factors such as economic status, culture trends, etc. but who are we kidding? In large part, America has become more rebellious against almighty God and at the same time, our families have fallen apart.
To cite from the same source, 2015 Pew Research concluded, “the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheists, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”
In layman’s terms, the Christian church in America isn’t at its healthiest point in our country's history. It is important to note that while the church in America might be shrinking, the church (God’s people) in other countries such as China might be flourishing. This is encouraging.
Statistics show that as our country has become more secular, our families have become increasingly broken.
What can be done? From a foundational standpoint, those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ as the Son of God must continue to strengthen and invest in our families. Moms and dads, husbands and wives must rely on God and His word to assure that their marriage is on a solid foundation. This oftentimes means that we must reject the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). In addition, we must continue to invest in the local church body. Lastly, all believers who are also parents must continually raise their children to honor and respect the marriage institution that God created. There is hope for the nuclear family in America. That is if we are willing to return to being “one nation, under God…”