|By David Fondler, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
As the economy slowed, other things seemed to slow down as well: People buying homes later in life, or not at all; getting married later in life, having children later.
The baby boomer generation of now-aging parents is hosting the boomerang generation of college graduates returning to the nest. Money and health issues are forcing the grandparents to move in too.
Blended families, with one step-parent, have been common for years. So have single-parent households. Less common, but becoming more so, are same-sex couples who are increasingly being granted the same financial and legal status of traditional married couples -- joint property ownership and tax filings, joint parental rights and obligations, joint control over health care directives.
So some five years after the recession, as same-sex marriage becomes legal in
The upshot? Forget the relative security and minor tribulations of TV's "Modern Family." In the real world, both modern and traditional families face real challenges.
"We are concerned because 'middle class' is usually associated with financial security," said
"That kind of caught us off guard, and we said something's going on there ... It is surprising to find that so many people consider themselves struggling."
Indeed, while 85 percent of traditional families called themselves middle class, 41 percent of the same income group said they live paycheck-to-paycheck.
A few definitions here: Middle class refers to a household income of
Traditional families are considered two parents of opposite sex, with at least one child under 21 living at home. Modern families include blended families with a step-child in the household; multigenerational families with at least three generations living together; boomerang families with at least one adult child who has returned home. Other cohorts considered were single parents, same-sex couples and older parents with younger children. Same-sex couples were the only group not required to have kids for the survey.
In a recent interview, Libbe made a few other observations about the survey and the state of families today.
Is the timing the survey related to social patterns, such as legalization of same-sex marriage, or the end of the recession?
"We've done studies on women, the
"And so then we sat down and thought about where we wanted to go next in terms of studying consumer patterns.
"We know a little bit about the single-female parent, but maybe we want to look at all single parents, including men; same with same-sex couples. When we got our research company on board, we talked about wanting to do a study where we talked about modern family structures, and what has that done for savings and the financial industry."