Myths about family structure have perpetuated American society for decades due largely to the difference between family imagery and family reality. Americans have been painted a picture of the "perfect" American family with a Breadwinner father, a stay at home mother, and 2 children in a single family home. The reality is that most families in the United States are forming more nontraditional families. This myth can be traced back to the false images surrounding family life and it's presence in everyday life; especially re enforced by the media (including tv, film, newspapers and books), moral leaders, and politicians.
TV Shows such as "The Partridge Family" and "Leave it to Beaver" portray the ideal model of family on tv, while conservative politicians have blamed social problems on "the breakdown of the family." This mythical family structure is perceived as fact because of selective perception, cultural values, and nostalgic memory. People tend to imagine that the family has taken a turn for the worst, but there is no historical evidence that proves that families ever had a "golden age." (p. 11) It is factual though that through evolution families are different from they were in the past. Families spend less time together and parents have less control over the children with outside factors such as peers, educators, and caretakers having influence.
Co habilitation before marriage is more accepted now than it was in the past. Other nontraditional family situations such as gay families, single parent families, and blended families are more prominent now than before. Does this mean there is a breakdown of the family? No, it means that their has been a shift in change in the family structure over the last few decades from a "traditional" to a "modern" society. This in turn should also affect our thinking to be more understanding towards the change in family. Zinn, Maxine Baca. 'Diversity in Families' 7 th edition.