If we have a look at the modern family life and compare it with those of the previous century, we’ll see that the essential change has happened not in the sphere of science or technical progress, but in everyday life. People don’t have to marry to be together, the couple can control the number of their children, and we no longer live in big families. A hundred years ago the social roles of men and women were strictly defined – now they are mixed. The changes in reality find their reflection in the language: present-day dictionaries say, that the phrase “Who wears the pants in the family?” is used ironically (as women also “wear pants” in both senses).
What has changed in the society? Three things are the major factors that influence modern family life: firstly, emancipation; secondly, freedom of morals; thirdly, technical and scientific progress which makes the life easier, faster, and neurotic. What’s their impact on family life?
The statistics says that family life is shifted in the direction of individual freedom. The former type of family was based on the sacrifice that women made to the home altar. Now ninety percent of women having families work. On the one hand, it makes family life more stable: it’s no catastrophe now when the husband is fired. But on the other hand, who will take care of the children? So, the main processes in modern family life are the following:
1) People marry later or don’t marry at all. The average age of getting married is 24 years now, and the number of bachelors is growing.
2) Divorce rate is extremely high: 60 per cent of marriages are broken during three years of family life. Consequently, the number of single-parent families grows: 37 per cent by now.
3) As soon as people can control childbirth, fewer children are born. The declination in birth rate in our country has been conditioned primarily by the economic crisis, but it’s a general tendency in Europe: only one or two children are born in a family. About 40 per cent of first children hadn’t been planned by their parents. The demographic crisis has alarmed the government, and since 2006 maternity payments were raised considerably. The maternity payment for the second childbirth was also aimed at improvement of the situation. The birth rate grew for the last two years, but I think it’s mostly connected with a spell of economic stability.
4) Mothers work, and families are nuclear (no grandparents), so the problem with looking after the children is vital. Many children are neglected, and see their parents only late in the evening.
So, the modern way of family life arouses many problems, though I think it’s better than it was in the past, for women especially