Tag Archives: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

The Insanity of “Traditional” Families

Families are changing. And that’s not all bad news. I have a theory that rising divorce rates, declining marriage rates, and the growing acceptance of variations of the family model (single parents, grand-parent guardians, gay parents, etc) are really quite normal. At least normal in the sense that this shift away from a traditional nuclear family, with rigid gender roles that place undue burden on women, is the beginning of a march back to better outcomes for more children.

If you are still captivated by the belief that a “traditional” nuclear family, that is, one with one father who is male, one mother who is female, and children who are biologically related to those two, is the very best thing for humans to be raised in, you are not alone. I was convinced of that myself. And I still believe if a single parent does not have an elaborate support system of family and friends and a good economic base, children would be much better off living with two parents who hold a biological interest in their welfare.

But there’s something even better for kids and it has little to do with a family model that looks like an episode of Leave-It-To-Beaver. The idea that a lone woman should be left alone in a tract house in the suburb for fifty hours a week with a screaming bunch of small, hungry children is insanity. No wonder the news is chock full of stories of mothers abusing or murdering their children, or why postpartum depression is the darling diagnosis of our generation.

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