Looking At Society’s Shifting Version Of Normal

Family dynamics have changed rapidly over the past 40 years. This can be explained quite logically by sociologists, and historians and that information can be seen in practise every day. As the first generation to have gone from infancy to retirement without a major worldwide conflict, or mass-extinction event (like The Bubonic Plague in Europe, for example, which claimed more lives cumulatively than World Wars I and II combined), we are currently living in unchartered territories of how basic human interaction is being affected by this. So, if sociologists, and historians can give us facts and figures like The Plague numbers, what can we learn about our day-to-day lives of actually experiencing this new wave of being? One could look at the base of societal structures: the family.

As microcosms of the greater community at large, the family unit now consists of many different permutations. Two mothers, one single parents, combined households of two divorcees — the variation nowadays is something most people would never had dreamt of even 30 years ago. But, now, there are mothers wearing power-suits, and commanding boardrooms, while fathers are attending mother and baby exercise classes, and making dinner before Mum comes home.

A movement towards questioning gender roles has seen much of what was previously viewed as prescribed ways of contributing to society as the only way. However, the 21st Century is embracing non-conforming, non-nuclear family structures, and is showing the value of all contributions to society, regardless of whence the come. A possibility worth considering, is that while Junior is working up a sweat with Daddy at their Wednesday exercise with baby classes, he’s learning valuable bonding experiences and skills with post natal exercise in Newcastle– skills that more naturally come to Mum, but Dad needs a little more help with.

Previously, extending oneself past what came naturally was not only discouraged due to the risk of generalised disapproval, but was blatantly stifled. Yet, now, in a generation that is being encouraged to explore all aspects of the human psyche, it seems the cookie-cutter mold of the modern family has proved far more flexible.

Of course, this is not to say that more conventional families are at some sort of disadvantage. But, alternative families are now experiencing more acceptance, and even thriving alongside conventional mom-dad-sister-brother families. Whether this change is explained by a lack of wars, and mass-illness is still yet to be seen. On a family level, though, more open mindedness seems to be allowing a society that is more fluid, and able to adapt to something that has always been a factor: human nature.