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Lecture 5

SDS353R Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Nuclear Family, Voluntary Childlessness

Social Development Studies
Course Code
Geoff Malleck

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Definitions of the Family
George Murdock: “a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation, and
reproduction; includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom are in a socially
approved relationship, and 1/more children owned/adopted”
- family performs 4 f’ns: sexual, economic, reproductive and educational
Vanier Institute for the Family: “any combo of 2/more persons who are bound together over time by ties of
mutual consent, birth and/or adoption, and whom together, assume
responsibilities of some of following: discipline, maintenance and care of
members; addition of new members t/ procreation/adoption; socialization
of children; social ctrl of members; consumption and distribution of
resources; nurturance or love”
- includes all types of families
Statistics Canada (census family): “now-married couple, w/ or w/o never married sons/daughters of
either/both spouses; couple living in common-law w/ or w/o never
married sons/daughters of either/both spouses; or lone parent of any
marital status w/ at least 1 never married son/daughter living in same
Family Structure
Over last 30 yrs, Canada has seen i↑’d rates of separation/divorce, declining popularity of marriage,
growing # of common-law unions, i↑’g recognition of same-sex marriages
- aar, more complex lives for children who grow up in many diff family env’s
- gone is homogeneity of common family structure
79% of cdn children btwn 0-11 yrs-old live w/ both parents
16% lone/single family
4% live in step family
Number of Children
Century ago, avg # of children born was 5
- today is slightly under 2
Pregnancies are occurring later than before
1998: costs > $150 000 to raise a child to age 18
Calling a child an “accident” and getting abortion ~ to notion of birth ctrl t/ infanticide and abandonment
Sometimes adults say parenthood is sth they dN want to miss out of, so they have children for their own
sake and not for sake of children
More voluntary childlessness
- sometimes children seen as interfering w/ finer things of life
Idea of perfect child: prenatal tests to make sure child is “alright”
- greater expectations on children even before they are born
w/ smaller families, children are closer in age b/c fewer siblings
- closer to extended families as well
Number of Parents
1991: 73/100 children lived in families of married couples
1901: 7/10 families composed of married couples w/ children
1996: 50% families composed of married couples w/ children
1901: 14% families led by single parents
1996: 15% families led by single parents
1996: 35% families dN have children
1996: 84% children in Canada lived w/ two parents
- (TF) almost 1/5 lived w/ single parents, and 84% of these children lived w/ female grown parents
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