TO THE SEVENTIES:
family trends that had started in the Sixties continued in the
Seventies. The American birth rate continued to drop. Men and
women married later and more, and more Americans did not marry
at all. The average size of a family declined to only three
people. The old, typical nuclear family consisting of a working
father and a stay at home mother with two children declined
to only 7 percent of the entire American population.
and more unmarried women were giving birth to babies. The number
of single women heading families also increased by 50 percent
to over eight million in number. More and more children lived
in single parent homes as the divorce rate sky-rocketed to ultimately
50 percent of all American marriages. Children in greater numbers
spent more time in the care of persons outside their immediate
family. Most Americans were now living longer lives, but grand-parents
often lived far away from their grand-children, either in retirement
homes or in other states. Americans were always constantly moving.
living alone increased to the point that by the end of the Seventies,
one fourth of all households consisted of just one person. The
number of unmarried men and women living together, also increased
by more than 50 percent by the end of the Seventies. Clearly
the American family was now breaking apart. As the pace of life
quickened what kind of life would American children have with
both parents working whether they were married or divorced?
Who would supervise these children? What was also significant
was the change in popular values. The very concepts of divorce,
working mothers, pre-marital sex, and out-of-wedlock births
were losing much of their social stigma within all American
classes and races now. The baby boomers represented a new generation
with new values and they also represented a generation with
huge demographic numbers. This was new to American history.
trends in American culture even effected the Ritchie family:
" What do you mean you're getting divorced? "
Deborah: " That's exactly what I said. "
Mara: " But Why? "
Deborah: " Mara, sometimes two people who are married need
to go their separate ways. It's happening more an more. "
Mara: " You still haven't explained to me why you're divorcing
Deborah: " I just want to start my own life. I can't really
" Yes, you can. "
Deborah: " No, I can't. "
Mara: " You don't love Dad anymore? "
Deborah: " Yes, I still love your father, but we are no
longer the same people. "
Mara: " What do you mean? "
Deborah: " I always wanted to be an artist and this became
impossible when you and your brother were born. Your father
and I were also closer. Now he spends all his time working or
watching television. We no longer communicate very much. "
Mara: " Can't you go to a marriage counselor? "
Deborah: " I don't think that will help. "
Mara: " Why not ? "
Deborah: " Because we are no longer the same people. It's
hard for me to explain. "
Mara: " What's Dad going to do? "
Deborah: I really don't know. Why don't you ask him? "