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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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Parenthood in the United States

Parenthood in the United States

(p.187) 9 Parenthood in the United States
Cross Currents

Ruth-Arlene W. Howe

Oxford University Press

During the turbulent years preceding World War II, the American family was ‘vital to the nation’s survival, both as a symbol of democracy and as a counterpoint to the autocratic families of the Third Reich’. After the United States entered the war, social scientists agreed ‘that the traditional family, with its homebound mother and wage-earning father, would best maintain the domestic stability needed to win the war’. This chapter examines changing conceptions and presumptions regarding parenthood in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century in response to changing lifestyles, social attitudes, and new reproductive technologies. It also considers whether these developments mandate redefining legal parenthood. Parental legal rights and obligations are also discussed, along with demographic trends such as fertility and birth rates, whether parenting is a private or a public responsibility, and the legal rights of foster parents and grandparents.

Keywords:   United States, parenthood, family, parental obligations, social attitudes, reproductive technologies, legal rights, fertility, birth rates, parenting

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