Over the last generation the traditional American family has been changing rapidly. Not only the structure but also, the family values have been changing as well. Moreover, these two changes have, in a way, played off each other. The structural changes in marriage, the basic household composition, and childbearing have encouraged a new shaping of traditional values and perspectives. The structural and value change make the family of the 1990's fundamentally different from the family of the past generation. The American family has undergone many changes in recent decades. Changes such as structural changes in marriage and household structure, along with gender roles within families are the largest of the changes. Values regarding marriage and divorce, children and parents, gender roles and sexual morality are noticeable changes that today's families have from families of past generations.
Marriage is the foundation of the American family, but because of the structural changes occurring recently it's no longer an important role in people's lives.
The proportion of adults who have never been married rose from 15% to 22%between 1972 and 1996. While adding in the divorced, separated and widowed we come to the conclusion that while three quarters of adults were married in the early 1970's, only 57% were married in the mid 1990's (Loomis, 1994). This decline comes from three main sources. One, being the fact that people are delaying marriage. Between 1960 and now, the median age at first marriage rose from 22.8-26.7 years for men and 20.3-24.5 years for women (Smith, 1996). Divorces have increased; in 1960 there were 9.2 divorces per year per one thousand married women, which slowly climbed to 22.6 in 1980. Since then the divorce rate has remained fairly constant throughout the 1990's. The rise was partly caused by the increases in the female labor force,