America’s Ideas about Family

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brian Powell talks about how Americans’ definitions of family are changing and what that means for public policy. Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family broadens the scope of previous studies of how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. Although such issues as same-sex marriage and gay adoption remain at the center of a cultural divide, Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive, not less.


Brian Powell

Comments [9]

Steve in Saskatchewan from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

I would encourage Leonard to invite someone to speak on additional family structures that are a little bit "out of the ordinary" and the difficulties they sometimes experience. One such group of families are made up of couples (usually traditional male-female couples) who have adopted children of a different race. My wife and I could not have children "the old fashioned way" and so we decided to adopt. We initially said we would be prepared to adopt a white child (like us) or a "mixed race" child. The social services agency approached us and asked us if we would be willing to adopt a child of Filipinno origin where both parents were Filipinno ! After a couple of days of pondering, we said "What the heck. Are we really going to demand a 50% white blood quantum? Of course we will take the child." Thus our daughter Sarah was placed with us. Sarah is Canadian by birth and we live in Canada.) With Sarah in our home, we then sought to deliberately adopt a second Filipinno child so that she would have a sibling who looked like her on the school playground. This brought us to adopt Jericho who was born in the Philipinnes. We thus have a 2 beautiful and thoroughly typical children age 13 and 8, both of them of Filipinno biological origin, being raised by my wife and me, (who are of Irish American, and Scottish-Canadian descent respectively.) Our family functions fairly well internally but we get stares in restaurants and not always approving stares. Beyond the question of stares, however, we find there is some real reluctance of other families to befriend us or to get beyond initial cordial pleasantries. It seems that we are not quite accepted, in society at least not entirely. I would be interested if your guest had done any studies on this type of a-typical family and how well it is accepted, in general, -- if not, whether he knows of any such studies or support organizations..

Jul. 02 2011 12:31 AM
Astrid Fiano

I thought Mr. Powell had many intriguing findings in his research, and brought a fresh perspective to how family is defined. As a New York resident and human rights advocate, supporting and celebrating the same-sex marriage vote, I appreciate in particular Mr. Powell's responses to some of the standard fallacies regarding same-sex marriage and relationships. Thank you Leonard for featuring this work.

Jun. 28 2011 09:53 AM
Andre Gallo from New Jersey

The recently passed Gay Marriage Act in New York State was an affront to all decent law abiding people of New York State. It took promises of money or brides to get republicans in the legislature to support the bill. It was passed late night to avoid further demonstrations by the majority pro-family and pro-moral people of New York State. And lastly it was pushed by a Governor who hopes to run for President on the back of the pro-gay agenda of highly financed political groups.
This “win” was dirty and illegitimately passed and will be view as it should be, as shoveled down the throats of the citizens of New York State.
I predict it will evict a ground swell of anti-gay resentment due to the manner in which it was passed. In fact, it may also wake-up the sleeping voices and votes of God fearing people who have had enough of this violent and destructive gay agenda that in the name of equality wants to tear down the very fabric of this nation, our American traditional families. Now that the Gay charade of equality has been exposed for what it is, the battle lines for the hearts, mind and souls of our young people has begun anew and this time the outcome may be different.
Lastly, let me quote the following:
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” G.K. Chesterton

Jun. 27 2011 09:00 PM
lucy from NYC

These "definitions of family" sound so sickeningly idealistic...I'm beginning to feel very Tolstoy-ish

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Jun. 27 2011 02:00 PM
Gabriel from NYC

As appalled as I am by Ed's sentiment I can't disagree with his statement.

Jun. 27 2011 01:58 PM
Gabriel from NYC

Let me amend my previous post. I can't agree that it's a "hostile takeover".

Jun. 27 2011 01:55 PM
Gabriel from NYC

If Europe is more likely to perceive a same sex couple with a child as a family than they are for a male/female married couple without a child that implies to me that governments are only interested in marriage as much as it produces future citizens. Is the point of marriage in the eyes of government simply for population growth?

Jun. 27 2011 01:46 PM
Sam Michalowski from NJ

Marriage is a creation of the state and a "hostile takeover of social life by the government."

Jun. 27 2011 01:41 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Same sex marriage is a creation of the state and a 'hostile takeover of social life by the government'.

Jun. 27 2011 07:27 AM

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