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The Big Answer


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Convergence Or Divergence

a book by Jeremy Black

(our site's book review)

In earlier times, parent-child relationships were more numerous than parent-adult child relationships, but in modern societies there are more of the latter than the former, and these relationships also usually involve relationships between three generations. As Dychtwald has said for years, family makeup is evolving in these ways and the result will be more “matrix” families that contain more people resources, especially elders. This will happen under one roof but also under multiple, nearby roofs. Now in 2014, 51 million families in America live in multigenerational homes with parent-adult child contexts.

Now in 2014, 51 million families in America live in multigenerational homes
Now in 2014, 51 million families in America live in multigenerational homes


What remained when most social tasks were exteriorized in the 1950s was the isolated ‘nuclear family,’ held together less by the functions its members performed as a unit than by fragile psychological bonds that are all too easily snapped
What remained when most social tasks were exteriorized in the 1950s was the isolated ‘nuclear family,’ held together less by the functions its members performed as a unit than by fragile psychological bonds that are all too easily snapped

According to the author, the isolated nuclear family is evolving toward the “modified extended family,” in which members are proximate, communicate often, and exchange resources and other assistance.

He also sees “intimacy at a distance” in the future relationships of parents and their adult children. This means frequent interactions and mutual support, but not necessarily living under the same roof. He sees traditional family patterns as diminishing due to divorce, abortion, living alone and illegitimacy, but intergenerational contact is alive and well. Ties from mother to adult children are intact, but he sees ties from fathers to adult children to be at risk.