Introduction to Family Life

What you’ll learn to do: recognize variations in family life

A man is holding a little girl in the foreground. They are both smiling and the girl is laughing and hugging the man.

As a reminder, marriage and family are social institutions, but that does not mean that people’s concepts of marriage and family in the United States are static. As discussed in the previous sections, increases in cohabitation, same-sex partners, multiple divorces and remarriages, and singlehood are altering our understanding of marriage. Similarly, single parents, same-sex parents, cohabitating parents, and unwed parents are changing our notion of what it means to be a family. In fact, only 46% of children today live with two parents who are both on their first marriage.

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