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3CC3 Final Exam Reading Notes Chapter 2: “Intimacy, commitment and family formation” Rachel Ariss Introduction  Families are formed in many different ways  In most western societies, there is a social expectation that emotional and sexual intimacy between a couple and their commitment to caring for each other is a central aspect of new family formation  The word intimate is used to describe close emotional relationships such as those between friends or siblings as well as sexual relationships that may or may not include emotional closeness.  Diversity of intimacy is individual  Social norms of commitment such as marriage, are one way in which intimate relations are legitimated in society Intimacy: meanings and theories  The pure relationship is entered into for its own sake, what can be derived by each person from a sustained association with another, and which is continued only in so far as it is though by both parties to deliver enough satisfaction for each individual to remain in it.  Plastic sexuality- sexual activity can be separated from reproduction  Socio-cultural constructions of romantic love change over time and across cultures  Qualitative studies confirm the significance of equality for those in intimate same sex relationships, particularly as opposed to institutionalized (marriage) heterosexual relationships. Getting to know you: Dating  North America has had a dating culture since the early 20 century. Currently, the dominant dating culture approves and facilitates romantic heterosexual relationships between young people, without assuming that those relationships will lead to marriage or to other long term commitments  In the 19 century, socializing between young men and women was supervised by adults and seen as a prelude to marriage.  It has arisen in north America with increased affluence, longer periods of education and the increase of youth-focusing socializing. As with companionate marriage and the image of the family as private dating culture seems to be part of modernization and individualism  Dating norms shift with every generation  Dating now reflects more group-focused outings rather then pair outings  The most common understanding of a date is that it involves two people and allows them a chance to get to know each other  64% of American teens experience hooking up 1  Studies suggest that the closeness of friendship may be seen as sufficient to begin a sexual relationship for many teens, in contrast to social expectations that sexual intimacy follows romantic involvement.  Some researchers use script theory- states that there are sets of stereotypical actions expected in certain social situations. Scripts help people organize the world around them, providing predictability to social interactions. There is a public and well-defined cultural script for heterosexual first dates including actions such as organizing a date, preparations, interactions with partner and ending the date. Boys are initiators and girls are reactors  Several aspects of the first date script are common to same sex and heterosexual couples. But in same sex dates, there are no initiator/reactor roles, because both are involved.  Not all cultural groups approve of dating Personal ads and Electronic communication  Such advertising may be attractive to users for several reasons: increased working hours across North America may make it difficult to find social time, the internet makes ad use fast and easy, ads allow both advertiser and respondent to pre-screen dates and using ads avoids facing rejection in person.  Social exchange theory has been the frame for sevstal heterosexual and same sex personal ad studies from the 1970’s into 21 century.  Social exchange theory- hypothesizes that people commodify a range of social characteristics, including physical attractiveness, youth, wealth, education, gender role, and social status and then offer their best traits in trade for traits they desire. This theory is used in studies of dating, cohabitation, and marriage partner choice  Much research on personal ads has found that traits appropriate to stereotypical gender roles are offered and sought by heterosexual advertisers. Heterosexual men are more likely to advertise for physical attractiveness and youth in women while offering financial security, height and stats.  The social factors that influence online dating in Canada are the increased numbers of single person households, the time pressures of careers, the increased mobility of single people, and the move away from the workplace as place to meet romantic partners  Self-presentation is deliberate and conscious online, and communication clues such as facial expression and tone of voice are absent from screen based communication thus it requires people to be creating in interacting.  Online dating etiquette tends to reflect traditional gendered dating patterns such as men being expected to initiate contact.  Online communication can help maintain intimate relationships when partners are working in separate cities.  Following friends or contacts through their day as they post updates can become a way of seeing into their lives, creating a sense of closeness through detailed knowledge of their activities. 2 Intimacy, living alone and friendship  The number of Canadians living in single-person households is rising  To be singly in our current culture is still often seen in negative terms, people who live singly may be seen as selfish and immature, lonely and unfulfilled.  The dominant image of singleness as a status marked by loneliness is challenged by representations in which friendship networks provide a rich source of meaningful and fulfilling connections Family formation, social structures and commitment  Cohabitation- an emotional, sexual and usually residential relationship between two people that is not legalized through marriage  Has become a common experience for younger Canadians over the last 25 years, and the number of common law couples has increased and is now seen as the fastest growing family structure  The increase in this represents a dramatic cultural shift in attitudes towards and experiences of forming couples, and living with a partner is becoming more social acceptable  Younger Canadians decide to cohabitate because about 2/3 see no need to marry, and this is tied into having little religious involvement.  Employment and education may make women feel freer to choose cohabitation instead of marriage Marriage: Legal structures and cultural privilege  Commitment  Marriage is viewed as an expression of moral values and reflects the belief that children should have married parents.  It has deep historical, religious and legal roots, it has been a place of maintenance of patriarchal authority and direct control over women and children  There are three different models of marriage in western society: classical, choice and commitment 1. The historical classical model focuses on biological and social complementarity between the sexes as the basis of marriage and the best social situation in which to raise children. 2. The choice model sees marriage as a private agreement between individuals. Sexuality is considered to be about self-expression and should not involve the state 3. In the commitment model, marriage beings with individuals but the relationship between them is central. Marriage is an intimate, committed relationship between centralizing emotional support. It recognized individual choice it focuses on community and the values of being connected within a long term relationship. The current institution and social norms of marriage were best reflected in the commitment model  Marriage gives two people the legal status of spouses which means being assigned a long list of legal rights and obligations that most people only vaguely understand. These include sharing property, financial support of 3 each other and of any children of the marriage, changes in taxation statues, rights as next-of-kin in medical decision making and inheritance and right to occupy and jointly own the family home  Ontario has been extending spousal rights to cohabitants since 1986 and common law spouses now share most of the legal rights of marries spouses such as financial support, inheritance and next of kin rights, custody rights and rights to occupy the family home across the country.  Cohabitating spouses are recognized for several different government benefits ranging from spousal pension allowances to insurance and employment benefits  The only difference is they do not share the rights to equal division of property if they break up  Arranged marriage  Includes several practices in which marriage is not left to two young people alone, but requires some participation or control by parents and extended families  Sometimes, parents are fully in control and the couple may not meet until wedding day  Sometimes parent’s ask their children about their expectations of a marriage partner and try to find someone who fits those desires  Sometimes both parents and children participate in finding a spouse for the young person  Many children who have grown up in Canada see marriage quite differently from their parents. Parents may value arranged marriage because it tends to preserve group cultural identity and cohesion  Pre-marriage intimacy appears to become more valued by those who have grown up in individualized western cultures. Chapter 3: “Bringing up and growing up: Parents, Children and Family Life” Gillian Ranson Introduction  Fertility rates in Canada are declining, as they are in much of the industrialized world  People are having their children later in life, having fewer of them but reproduction continues to be both an expectation and an outcome for most adults  The transition to parenthood is an important marker of culturally recognized adulthood, signaling the achievement not only of full adult status but also (especially for women) the fulfillment of widely held gender expectations  Todays children are more likely to be born to parents who are on average a little older and on average, better educated, likely to have fewer siblings, and live in two parent families which are supported by two incomes  In North American culture the kinship system has traditionally been based on the bond of blood, with family scholars tending to assume a biological 4 connection between parents and their children with the adoptive (i.e. social) parenthood being second best. But the research points out that the distinction between biological and social parenthood has never been so blurred before.  There are several new reproductive technologies and other forms of family (e.g. blended families) that show the importance and prevalence of social parenthood without a biological basis.  Contemporary scholars interested in childhood are coming to see that children are not just passive recipients of adult activity of objects to be socialized in order to enter civilized society. They are individuals in their own right, interested and active players in their own families with distinct perspectives and the capacity to shape family life according to their own interests The Ideological Context of parenting  Smith says there is a ideological code that organizes the activities of individuals in North American families. She calls the code “Standard North American Family” or SNAF. She describes it as “a conception of the family as a legally married couple sharing a household. The adult male is in paid employment; his earning provides the economic basis of the family household. The adult female may also earn an income, but her primary responsibility is to the care of husband, household and children”  This code describes how families are supposed to be. The code suggests that mothers are ultimately responsible for the practical care of children. And fathers are helper’s rather then family managers, whose main responsibility is to provide financially for their family.  This can be traced back to industrialization: as workplaces increasingly became separated from the homes and family holdings of an earlier era, and were populated largely by a male workforce, they came to be constructed symbolically as the domain of men, while homes- and the daily care of children were the symbolic domain of women  The ideological construction of mothers and fathers was based on the situation of white, middle class family, it never reflected the family experiences of working-class or ethnically more diverse families Fatherhood and Fathering  Current scholarly work is raising some questions about what it means to be a good provider  Christiansen and Palkovitz point out that there are some negative connotations attached to the traditional provider role. They site studies showing breadwinner fathers labeled as “distant, strict, harsh, authoritarian and incompetent”. These negative connotations detract from the significant contribution fathers make to their families by their financial provision.  In an ethnographic study of fathers in a Northern California town, found that they tended to view economic provision as a part of a package deal in which having children, being married, holding down a steady job and owning a home were interconnected elements. 5  Since the 1960’s increasing number of mothers have entered the workforce, and they are contributing to their families financial support  Pleck says that a new father has emerged “ this new father differs from older images involved in fatherhood in several key respects: he is present at birth, he is involved with his children as infants, not just when they are older, he participates in the actual day-to-day work of child care, and not just play; he is involved with his daughters as much as sons”  Generative fathering describes a form of fathering focused on children’s needs, fathers’ special strengths as parents, and the ethical obligation of fathers to support the next generation.  Responsible fathering- also focuses on father’s ongoing commitment to their children’s financial support, physical care and emotional nurture.  The influx of women into paid employment has led to greater awareness of the need for work-family balance o Work-family balance –the term used in organizational contexts to describe the family and workplace responsibilities of working parents  Organizational level policies like parental leave of flexible schedules are more designed to make workplaces more family-friendly, and to help workers with work-life balance. The terms are generally framed in gender- neutral terms, which suggest that men, as well as women, might be interested in taking them up. However, men are usually discouraged from taking advantage of these policies. Motherhood and Mothering  Motherhood has historically been understood as women’s destiny and the core of their identity as women  The current cultural dominance of this ideological construction of mothering masks significant race, class and ethnic differences in the way mothering is practiced  In North American society, the peak of stay at home mothers managing the households and children of breadwinner fathers was during the post-war economy of the 1950’s, when many families could survive on one income and when the demographic phenomenon of the baby boom was beginning  That form of family is reflected in todays neo-liberal political policies formulated around traditional family values  Neo-liberal- a political philosophy geared to restructuring society (partly by reducing social programs and placing responsibility on individuals to solve social problems) to better meet the demands of the global marketplace  This is the same era that Talcott Parsons based his study when he described the mother as the expressive leader responsible for the emotional nurture of family members, and an mans as the instrumental leader, responsible above al for financial support  One of the most important changes to family life was the movement of women into the paid labour force in the 1960’s & 1970’s 6  Mothers who work face cultural contradictions where they must confront the expectations of the workplace, and they must conform to prevailing ideological expectations about mothering and motherhood  Intensive mothering acts as a measuring stick, or a template for what mothers should do Perspectives on the needs of children  Changes in expert opinions about child development and the moral nature and value of children, are linked to changing understandings of childhood as both a developmental stage and a socially constructed space  Understandings of childhood throughout history have moved between two poles of a continuum. At one end is the child as a miniature adult, at the other the child as an innocent cherub.  Each historical era develops an image of childhood and children that fits the context in which those children must grow  In earlier historical time periods, but also in other parts of the contemporary world, children’s early independence and their economic contribution to their families support have been and continue to be essential to family survival. In contemporary industrialized society, children are protected and seen as innocent cherubs  In early historical periods, there was a high infant mortality rate. Parents could hardly be expected to make a significant sentimental investment in children until they could be more assured of their survival The Canadian Context  In the late 19 and early 20 century, Canada had experienced high infant mortality rates. However, the Canadian government did not intervene until after WW1, when soldiers were declined to duty because of their health  While departments of health and divisions of child welfare were established at every level of government, in practice little was done to address the poverty, malnutrition and poor housing that were the root causes of much infant ill health.  Responsibility was placed on mothers and en educational campaign was mounted to train mothers in their proper duties  Concerns about infant mortality in the early decades of the century led to a preoccupation with feeding and a focus on schedules and regimentation  After the second world war, concern about rigidly training children to develop good habits gave a new maturational-development approach to child development  New brain research builds on theories of developmental psychology stressing the importance of mother-infant bonding  Literature tells parents that children need early and appropriate stimulation before the turn six to ensure optimal brain development Parenting in Practice  Advice to parents based on expert opinion about what children need ties in to dominant ideologies of mothering and fathering like those described earlier 7  Dominant images of mothering and fathering may work in the SNAF described by Smith, but are much more difficult to conform to in non-SNAF families  Conforming to a dominant image of mothering (or fathering) cant be managed easily when the other parent in absent, or even present but not resident in the household. There are different complications when parents separate or divorce and then form new relationships Stepfamilies and blended families  Statistics Canada defines a stepfamily as one in which at least one of the children in the household is a from a previous relationship of one of the parents  In a stepfamily, the children of only one of the spouses live in the household  In a blended family, there are children of both partners form one or more previous relationships, or children from the current union and at least one prior one  Statistics suggest that stepfamilies are still a minority family type, even though their numbers are very slowly growing  Juby et al, noted some interesting characteristics of stepfamilies. For example, since children most often live with their mothers after separation and divorce, the children in their study sample were much more likely to be living with mothers and stepfathers  The complexities of separations and new unions have given rise to the phenomenon of the new extended family whose boundaries are unclear and in which family roles are not always clear  In a marriage following divorce, a step-parent does not replace the step- child’s non-resident parent  The lack of norms and guidelines available to step-parents suggest that the step-parent role is incompletely institutionalized  Step parents, like adoptive parents experience difficulties of social parenting, often in situations where biological parents may also be in the picture  May take years for readjustment for children with a new parent  It is especially tough for step mothers who are not living with their step children, but still must form a bond with them, and are competing with the biological mother  Evidence suggests that step parents make a significant difference to the families they join not only as caregivers, helping with homework, and driving them around, but they also make economic contributions Same Sex families  Stereotypical expectations about mothering and fathering based on the dominant ideologies described earlier also do not work well for same sex couples with children  There are increasing rates of children being born or adopted into same-sex families  Adoption is the main option for men 8  Lesbian couples can use donor insemination, using either unknown or known donors  Known donors (the biological father) may have a role in the child’s life, usually not as the child’s father  Reinmann concluded that the distinction between the biological mother and the non-biological mother affected couples in three main areas: o Public motherhood, which is concerned with how motherhood is defined through the law and social customs. o Relational motherhood, which refers to the definition of motherhood shared by parents and their children in the family. o Personal motherhood which links to the idea of motherhood as personal identity Other challenges to ideal mothering and fathering  Parenting practices are shaped by factors that make ideal mothering and fathering hard to achieve  Poverty, ill health, unemployment and the presence of children with special needs all pose challenges for parents  Most parents share in the cultural mandate to support their children, attend to their physical well-being, help them stay out of trouble and push them to achieve – but they differ in interpretations of these responsibilities  Socio-economic class and the level of access to material and cultural resources are a major influence on parenting  Middle class families (both white and black) engaged in “concerted cultivation: of their children. o This involved the kind of financially expensive, labour- intensive promotion of their children’s talents and abilities (through a variety of organized extracurricular activities) o These parents also stressed the language use and the development of reasoning with talking as the major means of disciplining their children o This produced an emerging sense of entitlement in children, who were confident about speaking up and asking questions  Working class and poor parents believe that as long as they provide love, food and safety, their children will grow up and thrive.  Working class parents o Involved their children in fewer organized activities, o Used language less in disciplining their children, o Were more commanding and they placed more emphasis on physical discipline o Produced an attitude in both parents and children of outward respect and compliance to authority  The need in most families to organize family responsibilities around paid work is stressful for parents.  Employers are slowly becoming aware of the need for work-family balance and have been equally slow to offer programs that would help 9  Hochschild identified the second shift that mothers put in at home on top of their regular working day. She also adds that parents need to do a third shift of emotional work to compensate children for the time-crunched second shift  Parenting organized around paid work and the worker-like rational efficiency required of time-stressed parents at home are elements of what Daly calls the culture of parenting o Points out that parenting today also takes place in a culture of consumption, in which children’s needs and wants exert a powerful influence on how time and money are spent o Parenting takes place in a media culture in which children are at the center of a high politicized debate about the effects of media technology Children and their families  The current culture of family places stress on children as well as parents  As a part of the practices of intensive mothering described by Hays, this environment also produced children accustomed to having their needs met and feeling entitled to being heard  Contrary to popular belief, parents may not be spending less time with their children. Rather the time they spend together has become more goal oriented, structured and saturated with activity o Cultural Broker – an individual in a position to explain the workings of a new culture to another person Chapter 4 “ Separation & Divorce: Fragmentation and renewal of families Craig McKie Introduction  In the Divorce act in 1968, Canada has in large measure abandoned both the legal and ideological bases of inherited English law The Legal environment for divorce in Canada  The terms and conditions for granting a divorce or a family law settlement in any given era are a direct reflection of the positive values attributed to an intact marriage (the contract being ended by divorce) or a non-marriage- based family (which is being dissolved and its assets distributed under provincial family law)  Until the end of the 19 century, a marriage in essence was the transfer of a women from one owner (the father) to a new owner (the father of the prospective husband), in return for, or together with, tangible and intangible valuables such as dowry, mutual enjoyment and protection  A marriage was not only a relationship between partners but also a contractual building block of society th  By the early 20 century, this view began to change. Looked at in this new fashion, the interests of the stage and of the parties to a failed marriage came to lie in the peaceful simplification of the contractual tangle 10  Resolution lay in fixing new and continuing financial obligations, assessing damages and apportioning the assets of the dissolving union in an orderly and predictable fashion, and only once these matters are resolved can the marriage contract be dissolved  Prior to 1968, the provinces had different laws on divorce  The parties are obliged to demonstrate marriage breakdown, settle their financial obligations in some fashion, settle custody and residency arrangements for any minor children of the marriage, and divide the assets and future income according to guidelines set out by the state  If the partners cannot reach settlement on those issues, then the court will decide The ebb and flow of martial unions  Ebb- retreat  A newly formed couple has a number of choices. The partners may choose to: o Cohabit on a short-term trail basis (the dissolution of which does not typically give rise to any legal process at all) o They may form a durable common-law union (perhaps out of a preference of perhaps out of the necessity if there is a barrier such as a previous undissolved marriage. This does not give rise to legal consequences under provincial family law if the union dissolves and was of considerable duration o The couple can marry in which case both family law and divorce law apply if the marriage ends in a separation. o Members of any of these three types of unions can ignored the law altogether and proceed to the formation of new unions.  Since the passage of the Divorce Act in 1968, there has been a dramatic increase of divorces granted in Canada  Another revision in 1985 states: Marriage breakdown is now indicated either by (1) separation of ones year’s duration; (2) adultery that can be proven; or (3) demonstration of intolerable mental or physical cruelty.  There was another increase in divorces granted after these revisions in 1985  In about 2/3rds of cases, child custody decisions were privately settled without judicial intervention.  Child custody cases decided by the court, 45% of decisions in 2004 were in favour of mothers, 46.5% were joint custody, and a small minority of cases with sole custody to father  The average age of those divorcing has gradually increased  There has been a decline in the incidence of divorce is to be found in the marked decrease in a type of marriage that was entered into in previous eras as a direct result of extramarital pregnancy  Today there is greater access to contraceptives and medical abortions are more readily available 11 The emergence of Shariah law in Canadian legal institutions  Because Canadian society now consists of individuals from many places and cultures, it is not possible to generalize about how Canadians actually live out their pair bonding and dissolution experiences  Some cultural practices that newcomers to Canada might otherwise be inclined to follow are ruled out by law, as is multiple marriage, or are granted no standing in law, as is religious divorce.  In the normal course of events, countries have one universal system of civil and criminal codes  Canada has always been an exception to this rule by the acceptance of the civil code system in Quebec  Other exceptions have existed as well o The Orthodox Jewish requirements for a religious get or divorce before remarriage can occur. A get can only occur exclusively by the husband of the failed marriage o A similar Roman Catholic requirement for a religious annulment.  Annulment- the retroactive finding that an attempted marriage union violated the requirements for a valid marriage from the outset  The family statute law amendment act passed February 14, 2006 ensures that only Ontario family law can be used in binding arbitrations in Ontario, Quebec did the same. However, British Columbia do have religious jurisdiction in some cases.  Actions such as that of the province of Ontario is disallowing the use of religion-based tribunals in the settlement of the civil disputes may simply drive these activities underground with judgments officially registered with an Islamic court in another country for instance The emotional, social, and economic fallout of marital discord, separation, and divorce  Separation is a social fact  Divorce remains an ex post facto legal recognition of that social fact it merely confirms the obvious, though it may have incidental stigmatizing effects on self-identity for those affected  The legal act of divorce does not cause suffering and hardship  These often arise in the process of ending martial households, and in particular, economic stress and emotional trauma affecting the lived of any children in the household  Bibby finds a large number of impacts from family separation o 1) Social strain with relatives who often disapprove o 2) Decreased quality of school and workplace performance of the former spouses and of their children o 3) Negative emotional impacts o 4) Financial hardship 12  Bibby found that many separated or divorced couples were happier on balance after the event, but found that there were negative impacts for some children  Anne Marie Ambert noted the following measureable consequences of divorce: poverty (especially for women); higher incidence of depression, anxiety and other emotional disorders; and increased risk of problems for children of divorced parents including such behaviour problems as fighting and hostility, lower educational attainment, adolescent pregnancies and long-term risk for further marital problems  One obvious dimension of family breakdown involves a tense and potentially violent style of relating between spouses in chronic conflict. This might stem from well-founded anger at the behaviour of the other, or for other reasons of financial stress, medical condition, misuse of drugs and alcohol, or infidelity  There are also many other reasons for separation or divorce including unhappiness, frustration, and the gradual growing apart  Myles Corak has shown that parental divorce seems to influence the martial and fertility decisions of children. Adolescents whose parents divorced tend to put off marriage, and once married suffer a great likelihood of marital instability The long-parent family and the recombined family  According to the present census, families in Canada may be divided into families of now-married couples with or without children, , common-law (unmarried) couples with or without children, and lone parent families  Married couples are the largest of the three categories, but are gradually declining  Single mothers with dependent children are among the poorest of Canadian  The major difficulties for lone parents relate to child care (expenses, availability, hours of operation, and transport to and from), lack of skills and training (as a result of time spent out of school and/or the labour force), the employment practices of Canadian employers (inflexibility and lack of concern), adequacy and affordability of housing, the continuing effects of elevated stress, and perhaps the most important, the unfulfilled needs for social and emotional support  In contemporary Canadian family life, innovation is a keyword Stepfamilies and blended families  These family’s household income levels are on average much closer to those of intact families then they are to those of lone-parent families headed either by a man or by a women. This is partially because there are two household earners o Intact families- families in which all children in the household are the biological and/or adopted offspring of both members of the couple  These families are less visible to outsiders in the society, because they resemble intact families. Also when censuses are being conducted there is not questions based on past family history, and only focuses on the present 13  This means that the considerable data resources generated by the census remain mute on the question of lifetime exposure of individuals to episodes of life in stepfamilies in general and in blended families o Blended families –the marital union of tow people, at least one of who was previously in a marriage of marriage-like union and is also a parent. A blended family is created when one parent of an established family marries or cohabitates with another such partner, and all their children are considered members of the new family. o Stepfamilies- families in which at least one of the children in the household is from a previous relationship of one of the parents  One large category of stepfamilies contains a mother with her biological child or children, joined in the new domestic relationship with a man who has assumed the role of stepfather to her children  A combined family may change the surnames of some members in favour of a single last name, a legal process that is quite easily and inexpensively done  In these families there may be non-custodial parental visits, conflicts among parental practices and expectations, awkwardness in formal introductions, and some degree of financial fallout from previous failed relationships  There will also be new kin and kinship relations to be learned for a larger then normal number of extended families Recent development in divorce and family law  A series of court decisions in the early years of the 21 century made same- sex marriages not only legal but also easily available in most parts of Canada  It was immediately evident that married same-sex couples would require access to divorce and family law financial settlements, access that necessitated the rewriting of much of the existing family legislation  New minor children custody paradigms will be required since traditional preference for custody to the mother is not particularly relevant in the same- sex context  There has been a slight but significant movement has appeared in the direction of rehabilitating fault or marital misconduct as a factor in financial settlements attendant to divorce  There is in Canada a general expectation under the legislation that former spouses must begin to support themselves after a transitional period normally limited to just a few years and without regard to martial offences committed by the other party  There are penalties for failure to pay child support established under court orders including jail time, and loosing drivers license  A common law relationship is over in law at the time of separation  Continued cohabitation (as signified by the intent of both parties to be together) is required to establish a claim to survivor benefits  A common law partner who leaves a relationship immediately acquires the status of divorced spouse no matter the conditions under which he or she left the household. This diminishes the equality between married and common- 14 law couples and holds that married couples have a higher degree of obligation to each other then their unmarried counterparts  Another important decision of the supreme court of Canada in 2008 was that divorced couples should be made to share debts as well as assets  Support payments and the post-separation splitting of assets seem intended to work as parts of a capital redistribution system meant to enhance the economic status of ex-wives and their minor children  This system has been unsuccessful in addressing the continuing problem of lone-parent poverty defined either in terms of asset ownership or of income levels  Inadequate enforcement of support payment orders remains a largely unresolved issue, as is the inadequate supply of assets and income to attach or divide in very many cases  Poor couples who divide their incomes and assets simply get poorer separately Chapter 5: “Mid-life crises: understanding the changing nature of relationships in middle-age Canadian families Karen M. Kobayashi Introduction  The application of a life-course perspective to the study of families has resulted in a partitioning of family time into stages o Life-course perspective- a paradigm for understanding both continuity and change across a time and generations; combines the study of social structure with the experience of individuals over the life course (i.e. history, society and biography). The key concepts in the study of the life course are life events, transitions and trajectories (pathways)  This allows the researchers to isolate and examine the changing nature of relationships at different periods of the family life course  Mid-life stage families are often refereed to in literature as the sandwich stage because of its chronological placement between young adulthood and later life along the family life-course trajectory  Canadians are more likely to be well into their forties and fifties- at one time the definition of a middle-age family- while being sandwiched between the needs of growing children and aging parents Co-residence and home leaving  2006 census states that over ½ (60%) of young adults 20-24 years and over ¼ (26%) 25-29 still co-reside with their parents, supporting the argument that mid-life parenthood often comprises prolong periods of co-residence with grown adults  Newfoundland & Labrador and Ontario are the provinces with the highest proportion of intergenerational co-residence 15 o Intergenerational co-residence- a residential arrangement in mid- life in which at least two generations, most often parents and young adult children, live together  This new family arrangement, coupled with an increase in the average age at first birth, means that mid-life parents may be well into their 50’s before experiencing an empty nest o Empty nest- a family life course stage when all of the children have transitioned to adulthood and left home to begin their own lives  Such a delay in the transition to a one-generation household has suggestions for parent-child relationships in the latter years of middle as it is likely to coincide with the timing of parents’ retirement planning, or in cases of prolonged co-residence, the passage into retirement  There are a number of reasons for the postponement of this life course transition o Research indicates that children’s economic/ financial needs are a key factor influencing the home-leaving behaviour of young adult children  Mid-life parents who are in their peak earning years, provide a significant amount of financial and instrumental support to co- resident children  Assistance takes multiple forms including the payment of tuition and other fees for post-secondary education and/or vocational training, and the providing of housing, utilities, meals and transportation o Unemployment o Declines in affordable housing o Extensions in schooling o Postponement of marriage- the average age at first marriage is currently 28.5 for women and 30.6 for men  Family structure plays an important role in determining home-leaving behaviour. o Young adults living in blended or stepfamilies are more likely to leave home early than those who reside in either single-or two-parent biological families o Divorce and widowhood also influences co-residence patterns in mid life. There is a decrease likelihood that adult children will live at home if parents are divorced or a part is widowed – may be because the parent is not able to provide financial support to the child  Children maintain that co-residence violates the child’s norms and expectations about adult-hood and independence and that children may experience greater strain over exchanges in shared households. This can create tension or conflict within the family unit  In more traditional immigrant cultures, parent-child incongruence on adherence to core family and religious values can be the source of extreme conflict leading to the eventual breakdown of the nuclear family unit 16  North American research indicates a stronger sense of obligation to support young adult children in Asian immigrant families Returning home  The return of adult children to the parental home in young adulthood is becoming an increasingly common experience in contemporary middle-age families  These young adults are known a boomerang kids due to their pattern of leaving the family nest and returning again at some point over the family life course o Boomerang children- the term given to adult children who return to the empty nest, alone or with a family, subsequently cluttering it again. Recent research indicates that young adults, particularly men, are more likely to return for financial reasons and/or instrumental support (i.e. assistance with meals, cleaning and childcare)  The experience of home-returning is shaped mainly by adult children’s needs and social situations, particularly economic necessity and/or martial status transitions  Co-residence is largely a response to the circumstances of the children. The return of adult children to the parental home is often triggered by marital disruption (separation, divorce or the breakup of a common-law relationship) and/or economic difficulties (transition from full-time employment to unemployment or underemployment, single parenthood)  The effects on boomerang children on family relationships have ranged from positive to negative  Positive: The overall marital satisfaction of mid-life parents has been found to be quite high among those who are living with returning children as parents may receive additional support (emotional, instrumental and financial) from pooled resources  Negative: The decrease in self-reported relationship satisfaction between parents and adult children in the post-return home period due to conflicts over power relations in the home. Retuning adult children may not adapt well to the reassertion of authority by parents within the household, particularly if the ground rules are not open for negotiation.  These negative effects are multiplied even further in families of children who are serial home leavers- those who leave and return multiple times (3 or more) over the family life course Support for older parents  Cutbacks to health care and social services over the past decade in Canada have precipitated an increased reliance on the family by governments at all levels for the care of older adults  ½ of caregivers are between the ages of 35-54 with an average age of 51  It is estimated that Canadian adults will spend a longer time caring for their aging parents then they spent in raising their children  Usually it falls on the women in mid-life because of the gendered nature of caregiving 17  Social support is comprised of three main domains- instrumental, financial and emotional- and need for assistance in each of these areas is influenced by the timing of a number of later life-course transitions, namely widowhood, retirement and the onset of chronic illness o Social support- the assistance (I.e. instrumental, financial and emotional) that people give to one another. Sources can be either informal (i.e. family/ friends) or formal (I.e. paid home-support service workers such as homemakers or companions)  The extend to which support is provide is dictated both by parents assistance needs and by the quality of the parent-child relationship  An older parents experience of widowhood, an often unexpected transition, has consequences for support ranging from temporary assistance with some activities of daily living like bill payments or grocery shopping (instrumental support) to permanent reliance on children for financial help and/or companionship to combat depression (emotional support).  If it is the latter, the child will have to restructure their entire lives over caring for their parents and can lead to multi-generational co-residence  Retirement will have a less likely chance to bring strain onto a middle-aged child’s life- older parents in this group require the most support from children to help them adjust to the support of their work trajectory  The most significant alteration in the family trajectory of middle-aged children is the onset of chronic disease or disability in an older parent(s) o Support is transformed into caregiving and requires a great deal of sacrifice on the part of the middle-aged children Intergenerational Ambivalence  Adult children returning home is still considered non-normative by Canadian society  Expectation persists that adult children will leave the parental home, which also is regarded as an indicator of the success of parents’ child-raising skills or abilities.  Intergenerational Ambivalence- in mid-life families, the ambivalent or conflicted feelings that result from the incompatibility between parental expectations and children’s behaviour  It has been used to examine relationships between adult children and their aging parents and in-laws, and to explore the nature of social ties-with both family and friends- in a diverse age sample of adolescents and adults  AMBIVALENT= undecided, uncertain  Mid-life women are more likely to experience ambivalence in their relationships with each other and in their roles as caregivers to older parents and in-laws suggesting that structural arrangements give rise to ambivalence and the relationship experience is shaped by gender within the context of socially defined demands and obligations 18 Diversity in Mid-life families  Studies of satisfaction in marital and parent-child relationships in mid-life have tended to examine relationship quality as it is impacted by intergenerational living and/or social support arrangements with children  This narrow-minded view of mid-life families is problematic in that it fails to recognize the experiences of separated/ divorced, remarried, childless, parentless, gay and lesbian, and long-term or permanent empty nest families, groups of emerging importance in the mid-life Canadian population Divorce/ Separated  In an American Association of retired persons (AARP) study they found the effects of divorce are profound. The findings indicate that the divorce experience is more emotionally devastating than a spouses death  Divorce Is perceived as a disruptive and stressful event when it occurs in mid life and could lead to a number of negative life-course consequences  Most significant consequences of divorce in mid-life are its effects on parent- child relationships and the well being of children  Children who are most likely to be affected by parental divorce are in their late adolescent to young adult years  At this stage in the life course, children are in the process of forming attitudes about marriage and family themselves and may be more vulnerable to the negative impact of parental disagreement or conflict  Despite concerns over the long-term effects of divorce on children’s attitudes and behaviours, there is little evidence to suggest that exposure to the martial disruption of mid-life parents negatively affects the quality of parent- child relationships, children’s ability to cope with challenging life events such as moving, or their overall optimism about marriage  The ability to cope for mid-life parents varies greatly according to gener  In the financial domain, middle-aged women, particularly with sole or majority custody of adolescent or young-adult children are more likely than their male counterparts to fear economic instability  Emotionally, although both men and women experience loneliness and depression following marital dissolution, women have greater rates of depression and distress then do men in the post divorce period  Loss of spousal support appears to have a significant impact on men’s overall health; separation/divorce results in both poor physical and mental health for men, suggesting that the instrumental and emotional support wives provide in marital unions is an important determinant of health for husbands.  Women tend to have stronger informal support networks outside of marriage, and thus do not suffer such notable declines in their physical well- being Remarried  Remarriage is a midlife transition with the average age of remarriage for previously divorced women being 41.4 years and the average age for men being 45 years 19  It is also a gender transition as men are more likely than women to remarry  There may be a number of reasons for this, including the idea that divorced or widowed women in middle to older age groups greatly value their new- found independence and thus prefer to remain single  For men, they may find it difficult to make the transition to being on their own without the instrumental and emotional support of a partner and soon seek a new companion  It has been suggested that remarriages in mid- to later life may actually have a lower likelihood of marital disruption  The remarriage of two previously married individuals in mid-life often involves the blending of two families, referred to in the literature as a complex stepfamily  In mid-life families the adaptation process for stepchildren is influenced by a number of factors including children’s age at their parents remarriage, their residential status (co-resident or not), and the quality of the parent-child relationship prior to the remarriage o May be because a new person of authority is being introduced  Children who have close relationships with their custodial parent in the pre- remarriage period are likely to adjust better to a stepfamily arrangement than those who have a history of conflicted or strained relations Gays and Lesbians  Becoming more diverse and more same-sex partners in middle age are making efforts to blend existing families or to have children together either via medical technology or through adoption  May be called new blended or new nuclear  As once married partners come out after years of marriage and child-rearing they find themselves trying to negotiate both a divorced and a new sexual identity in middle age, and this may be a difficult period of adjustment for themselves and their adolescent and/or their young adult children Childlessness  Can be either by choice or due to involuntary infertility, and the inability to conceive despite the wish to conceive  Involuntary Infertility-the inability to conceive a child despite the desire to have a child  As the average age at marriage continues to increase in Canadian Society, one of the principal reasons for involuntary childlessness has become delayed for child-bearing, and fertility declines take place rom the age of 35 onward  Despite the higher tendency for divorce, childless couples report greater martial satisfaction on a number of relationship dimensions than those who are parenting  However, findings suggest that parental status in mid-life is linked to psychological well-being; good quality relationships between parents and adult children are associated with a sense of positive well-being among parents in mid-life to later life 20  Women who are childless report higher levels of distress than their male counterparts and overall have lower subjective well-being than mothers in close parent-child relationships Chapter 6: “Aging in Canadian families today” Lori D. Campbell & Michael Carroll Introduction  Older Canadians have rich and varied relationships with their kin and are often very involved in the lives of other family members, exchanging time and support with spouses, children, grandchildren and others  Social convoy- a model of support that involves a network of close family and friends who travel through life together, providing reciprocal social support  Intergenerational exchange- the exchange of support and assistance between generations, very often between adult children and their parents Martial Statuses of older people Being married in later life  The greater likelihood that men who marry will still be married in later life results from two interrelated demographic processes: women tend to live longer than men and men are more likely to remarry  For seniors there are advantages to being married in later life o Older married couples tend to have more financial resources then unmarried older people o Tend to have greater happiness and life satisfaction than those who are separated, divorced or widowed o Many empty nest older couples find this a particularly enjoyable people of their married with more time for themselves and each other o Marriage is linked to longer life and better health, especially for men  However, a poor-quality marriage that involves constant fighting and in which one or both people feel unhappy or dissatisfied tends to be linked to depression, lower life satisfaction and poor health  Common problem areas are leisure activities, intimacy and financial matters. o Women were more likely to name health issues and personal habits o While men were more likely to identify financial issues  King and Scott in 2005 indicated that compared to younger common law couples, older cohabitating couples report higher relationship quality, higher levels of happiness and fewer disagreements Widowhood  For most older couples in Canada today, marriage will end with the death of a spouse rather than through divorce- although there is a gendered pattern  Rates of widowhood increase with age for both men and women, but women have a higher rate of widowhood at all ages  The death of a spouses is one of the most stressful events that older people experience 21  Widowhood brings not only the loss of companionship, intimacy and emotional closeness, but also the loss of the married role or status which can affe
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