Chapter

Parenthood in the United States

Ruth-Arlene W. Howe

in Cross Currents

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198268208
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683442 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.003.0009
Parenthood in the United States

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During the turbulent years preceding World War II, the American family was ‘vital to the nation’s survival, both as a symbol of democracy and as a counterpoint to the autocratic families of the Third Reich’. After the United States entered the war, social scientists agreed ‘that the traditional family, with its homebound mother and wage-earning father, would best maintain the domestic stability needed to win the war’. This chapter examines changing conceptions and presumptions regarding parenthood in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century in response to changing lifestyles, social attitudes, and new reproductive technologies. It also considers whether these developments mandate redefining legal parenthood. Parental legal rights and obligations are also discussed, along with demographic trends such as fertility and birth rates, whether parenting is a private or a public responsibility, and the legal rights of foster parents and grandparents.

Keywords: United States; parenthood; family; parental obligations; social attitudes; reproductive technologies; legal rights; fertility; birth rates; parenting

Chapter.  11520 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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