Comparing its structure and function as it was in 1960 with what it had become in 1990 can highlight the dramatic changes in the American family. Until 1960 most Americans shared a common set of beliefs about family life; family should consist of a husband and wife living together with their children. The father should be the head of the family, earn the family's income, and give his name to his wife and children. The mother's main tasks were to support and enable her husband's goals, guide her children's development, look after the home, and set a moral tone for the family. Marriage was an enduring obligation for better or worse and this was due much to a conscious effort to maintain strong ties with children. The husband and wife
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A clear and increasing majority of women believe that both husband and wife should be able to work, should have roughly similar opportunities, and should share household responsibilities and the tasks of child rearing. A majority of mothers of preschool children now work outside the home. A growing minority of young married women, often highly educated and career oriented, are choosing not to have any children and have little interest in children's issues-yet one more indication of the dramatic transformation of American families that has been taking place in recent decades (Bousha & Twentyman 106).
It is unavoidable that those mothers who work simply are not there as much for their children. In fact, in many cases the relationship between the contemporary mother and her children is similar to the age-old traditional role of the father and his children. Often, the mother is indeed a strong-minded disciplinarian in the evening after work—but she is very frequently not much more than that. To very children, care is a nursery or some school of others with caregivers. To the pre-adolescent youth, care is either a baby-sitter, nanny, or just phone call to 'mom' after work--if even that much. In some of the more positive