Family Life and Divorce

A comparison of family life and divorce between the 1940’s and the 1990’s.

This paper examines how the family has changed significantly in the fifty-year period from 1940 to 1990. It discusses how one of the major issues of the 1990’s is divorce, with divorce having a significant impact on the family. It attempts to evaluate the impact of divorce on the 1940’s family and compares it to that of the 1990’s family. The ideal family of the early 1940’s was one based on the father working and the mother looking after the house and children. After World War II, women began to enter the workforce more increasing the change of social values. This trend continued up to the present where divorce is increasingly common and families are increasingly complex because of this. In the 1990’s, families no longer have the traditional mother and father. Instead, families include single-parent families, ones where custody is shared between two parents and ones where children have parents, stepparents, stepsisters and stepbrothers. Rather than hope for a return to a traditional family, society needs to change to support the new family structures that are emerging. The reality is that society has changed and that divorce is one of the results.
The family of the 1940’s was one of change. World War II meant that women found themselves forced to take on greater roles at home. Women became part of the workforce and became more independent. At this time on history, divorce was allowed but not totally accepted. One book on the subject of the changing nature of divorce notes that the law represents the dominant social views of this time (Phillips 314). The divorce law at this time was one of fault-based divorce. Weitzman (48) describes this approach as one that was based on protecting marriage. Divorce was still allowed but only based on proving a fault of one party, such as abusiveness, adultery or cruelty.

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