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Family structure, roles shifting.

In many two-parent families today, the traditional roles and responsibilities of mothers and fathers have changed. Mothers contribute a larger share of earned income and fathers assume a larger share of day-to-day parenting responsibilities. In single-parent families, one parent, usually a mother, has to shoulder both economic and parenting responsibilities, and children often lack material support and personal involvement from the other parent.

Most American children are still cared for by their parents. When mothers go to work, fathers are often the principal caregiver. In a very small proportion of families, fathers remain at home full-time and take over the role of homemaker. In others, parents juggle their work schedules so that one or the other is always available to care for children.

For a rapidly growing number of American children, however, care by adults outside their immediate family is becoming an increasingly common aspect of everyday life. Nearly 20 million children, about 70 percent of those with employed mothers, are cared for by an adult other than a parent, grandparent, or sibling.

Regardless of family structure or income, the traditional routines of family life are increasingly being challenged by the demands of work, children's extra-curricular activities and the lure of interests and opportunities outside the family.

To maintain strong, close relationships and to feel a sense of satisfaction with their families, parents and children need time together. Yet many parents and children, including those in two-parent families, find themselves spending less time together than either needs or would like.

As the number of families with only one parent grows, and as pressures mount on parents to work long hours to make ends meet, it will become even more difficult for some parents and children to spend time together.
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Title Annotation:part 2
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Feb 17, 1992
Previous Article:Changing times test families' strength.
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