Today, there are many varieties of family life. Although studies report on the problems of modern childhood, children are familiar with and tolerant of different cultures, and living and working practices.
The number of births to women in the US between 35-39 has risen 52 percent since 1990; the birth rate in women 40-44 has risen 65 percent since 1990 and is at an all-time high. Benefits are that older expectant moms are more likely to be settled, financially stable, and mature.
Single moms in the US have risen from 1 percent in 1971, to 12.5 percent in 2007. There's no doubt that children in single-parent families can be disadvantaged, but it's thought that much of this is due to financial constraints, and that those who have adequate socioeconomic resources do well.
Stepfamilies are the fastest-growing family type. It's thought that at least 1 in 3 children will have a stepfamily situation within their lifetime. Siblings may be of wildly different ages, or of the same age; these are unique and beneficial relationships for all children.
Dads today are more involved in family life. Some 93 percent attend the birth (compared to 5 percent in 1965), and over 70 percent take time off after the birth. In the 1970s, dads of children under five devoted less than 15 minutes a day to child-related activities, compared to over two hours by the 1990s. Research shows that children whose dads spend considerable time with them do well educationally and at work.
This is a necessity in most families. Studies show that good care outside the family has a positive impact on social skills, intellect, and language. Grandparents care for about 30 percent of US babies. A good grandparent relationship provides stability, family values, and is thought to improve cognitive development.
Your baby will live in a multicultural society. This affects educational experience and friendships, and there's a strong chance a child will be cared for by someone from another culture at some point in her childhood.
The statistics below reveal how family life has changed over decades.
Historically, about 106 boys have been born for every 100 girls-a phenomenon believed to be nature's way of compensating for the fact that males are more likely to be killed through conflicts. But ratios are changing with girls outnumbering boys. One factor may be increased stress (women under stress produce more girls than boys). However, the most important contributor is now thought to be the number of gender-bending chemicals in our environment, such as synthetic estrogens, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and pesticides.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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