The Way We Really Are:
Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families
by Stephanie Coontz

This book is a call to stand up and face the music: "With 50 percent of American children living in something other than a married-couple family with both biological parents present, and with the tremendous variety of male and female responsibilities in today's different families, the time for abstract pronouncements about good or bad family structures and correct or incorrect parental roles is past." What makes her pronouncement so valuable is that she is a social historian who goes beyond the superficial assessment of "what's wrong with families today" to provide the kind of historically-informed perspective that can be far more helpful than much of today's politically-motivated debates about "family values."

For those who are unaware of her earlier work, this book arose out of the discussions, speaking engagements, talk-show gigs and interviews that followed the publication of "The Way We Never Were" - which focused on our nostalgia for '50s. She's not placing "blame" on either men or women, but she is pointing out the practical basis of many of the problems in today's families: "Until the imbalance between women's expanded work roles and men's lagging domestic roles is corrected, neither interpreting male-female language differences nor pep talks about the sanctity of marriage will significantly reduce the incidence of divorce and separation." By including a focus on the socioeconomic issues, Coontz calls for a sensitive assessment of problems unique to the day - rather than a longing for days gone by.

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