ost of us understand what 'family' means in a deeply personal way. We build meaning through the prism of our own unique set of experiences within the...
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ost of us understand what
“family“ means in a deeply
personal way. We build meaning through the prism of our own
unique set of experiences within the
context of a broader set of societal
nouns, values and expectations. Truly
understanding what it means to be a
family in Canada, however, requires
looking beyond our own immediate
experience to include the diverse
spectrum of relationships and respon-
sibilities that make up family life from
coast to coast to coast. History teaches us that family has
never been one thing to all people.
That families have changed and
continue to change is now part of
conventional wisdom. The variety and
diversity of family forms found today
speaks to the dynamic ways in which
families come together. come apart.
and redefine themselves across the life
course. These patterns, in turn, impact
the ways in which we care and support each other.
lCanadians, by and large, still
choose to live in families Despite 'I'HI- Fawn]: lNh'llllJl't {tt- I'lll- Fasilrv concerns about the disintegration of
”family”, the great majority of Canadi-
ans live in couple families, either
married or common-law There is no
doubt about the on-going importance
that Canadians attach to families. For
almost everyone, according to Reg
Ribby, "the significance of families
extends beyond how they shape
individuals and their personal relation-
ships. Most Canadians believe firmly
that families are important foundations
of our conununities and, indeed, of the
nation as a whole." In the past, heterosexual marriage,
birth or adoption were the only
’legitimate’ routes into family. Today,
these gateways include cohabitation,
same-sex marriage and blended
families. Understanding the "how,
when and why" of family structure
and formation, however. begs a much
deeper analysis of family—life practices
over time. it is not enough to count
the number of marriages and divorc-
es. the number of babies born in a
given year or average family size. These numbers are important. but on their own, they lack the dimEnsions
necessary for a more fulsome appre-
ciation of what it means to be a family. Building a doeper understanding
of the basic trends in family composi—
tion demands consideration of a much
broader set of socio-demographic
factors. such as: population growth
and ageing,r rising rates of immigra~
tion, increasing cultural, racial and
ethnic diversity, rising rates of cohabi-
tation and educational attairunent,
declining rates of fertility, increased
mobility and the phenomenal advanc-
es in technology. These are the varied
contexts and characteristics of family
life in the 21st IL'Jentur_:,r that merit our
attention and understanding. These
are the factors that significantly impact
how, as individuals and as families,
we navigate the various points of
transition along the life course. Our ability to understand the
constantly shifting dynamics and
characteristics of family life is central
to our capacity as a nation to respond
to the many opportunities and chal— lenges facing families today. WSWION SUMMER 2016 - 5

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The following excerpts are drawn
tion, who is living where and with
population aging, this trend will have
directly from part 1 of Families Count:
whom, they can never fully capture
wide ranging ramifications. Whereas
Profiling Canada's Families 1V (2010,
"family." Individuals living on their
Canada has always been a "3M"
currently in production) and illuminate
own are certainly members of families
society - that is, multicultural, multi-
some of these recent trends in family
- involved in the give and take of
linguistic, and multi-religious -, the
demographics, articulating the increase
family life. Others are forging families
make-up of the "3M" nature of the
ingly complex pathways into and out
of choice - creating bonds of care and
population has shifted. Sustained
of the family unit. The data and
affection with individuals outside of
levels of immigration from increase
analysis captured in Families Count
their immediate kinship circle.
ingly diverse source countries is
helps us build this understanding by
While the proportion of Canadians
transforming communities, neighbour-
making the links between how changes
living alone may be growing, the
hoods, schools, workplaces, and public
in family make-up and function, and in
majority of Canadians, by and large,
institutions, especially in Canada's
social, economic and political contexts
still live in families. What is changing
largest cities.
impact individual and collective
is how families come together and the
Increasing diversity challenges us
health, well-being and prosperity.
ways in which they care and support
to rethink how we understand families
each other. Family life has never been
- how they operate and how we
Families Count can be pre-ordered
as diverse or as dynamic.
collectively support them. No longer
now (see attached order form) for
confined geographically, the ties of
publication in September, 2010.
Greater Racial and Ethnic Diversity
kinship are spread far and wide.
Of the many socio-demographic trends
Children in new immigrant families
influencing Canadian families today,
navigate often more than one culture
Canada's People, Canada's Families
rising rates of immigration and racial
and language. Their parents too often
In 1901, the Census recorded that close
and ethnic diversity is among the most
navigate a hostile labour market in
to nine in ten Canadians lived in
compelling. More than 225,000 immi-
their efforts to support their families
families - a figure surprisingly close to
grants on average have been admitted
here in Canada and family members
today's numbers. These records,
to Canada each year since the early
back home. Canada prides itself in
however, don't tell the whole story.
1990s. Population projections suggest
being an ethnically diverse society.
While statistical agencies strive to
that the proportion of foreign-born
Yet dealing with such diversity re-
determine, with increasing sophisticat
Canadians will continue to grow. Like
mains a work in progress.
6 . TRANSITION SUMMER 2010
THE VANIER INSTITUTE OF THE FAMILY

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Growing Aboriginal Population
the labour market and begin to form
Changing Family Structure
Equally compelling is the rapid
families of their own.
The clear majority of Canadians
population growth among Aboriginal
choose to live in families, albeit
peoples.' In 2006, nearly 1.2 million
High Levels of Educational Attainment
smaller families on average. But the
people identified themselves as an
The drive for postsecondary credentials
form those families are taking contin-
Aboriginal person, that is, North
is also having a profound impact on the
ues to change. And the ways in which
American Indian/ First Nation, Metis
form and function of Canadian families.
people come together to form families
or Inuit.' This is up from just under
Levels of educational attainment have
- at different points in their lives - is
one million in 2001 and 800,000 in
been increasing steadily in Canada.
changing, reflecting shifts in cultural,
1996. The Aboriginal population is
Roughly one-half of Canadians aged 25
political and economic attitudes about
much younger than the rest of the
to 64 years (48%) have either a college
partnering.
population. In 2006, the median age for
or university education.
Fifty years ago, the majority of
all Aboriginal people was 27 years,
Canadian young people have been
families were comprised of a legally
compared to 40 years for the non-Ab-
flocking to post secondary institutions
married husband and wife and at least
original population.
in greater numbers since the last
one child. According to the 2006
A rapidly growing young Aborigi-
recession in the early 1990s. This shift
Census, this family is still the most
nal population stands in stark contrast
has profoundly shaped the life course of
numerous but it is no longer the
to the aging of the general population
these young people. They are devoting
majority. In the 1981 Census, 55% of all
in Canada and, as such, represents both
more years to education and, as a result,
census families were married-couple
a unique challenge and an opportunity.
are leaving home later, forming unions
families with children. This proportion
High rates of poverty continue to
later, and having children later (or not at
slipped below the 50% mark in 1991
stymie the healthy development of
all). The pursuit of higher education is
and dropped to 38.7% of families in
Aboriginal children and youth and
also changing who we marry, when and
2006. Conversely, the proportion of
compound the difficulties among
how we will raise our children, and with
common-law families moved up from
Aboriginal families and communities
what resources. It has fundamentally
6% of all families in 1981 to 15.5% in
undergoing profound cultural, environ-
affected gender roles in the home and in
2006. The proportion of common-law
mental and economic change. Much
the workplace, informing the aspira-
couples without children doubled
needs to be done to support and invest
tions and world view of men and
during this period while the propor-
in Aboriginal youth as they move into
women alike.
tion with children more than tripled.*
THE VANIER INSTITUTE OF THE FAMILY
TRANSITION SUMMER 2010 - 7

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The proportion of lone-parent
and then 3.1 persons by the mid 1980s
changes in the age of first marriage.
families was also higher in 2006 than in
- where it remains today.
The average age of first marriage has
1981 (15.9% of all census families in
Smaller family size has spread
been climbing for over three decades.
2006 compared to 11% in 1981), reflect-
available family resources among
In 2004, the typical first-time groom
ing the long-term increase in lone-par-
fewer people. This is particularly
was 30.5 years-old - an increase of over
ent families over the past three decades.
relevant in the context of caregiving
five years from 1970 when it was at a
There is no question that families
and population aging. Caring responsi-
record low. Similarly, the average age
have changed dramatically in the last
bilities are now carried by fewer family
of first-time brides has increased,
fifty years. According to a 2007 Ipsos-
members, a situation complicated by
reaching 28.5 years in 2004, up from
Reid survey, a majority of Canadians
the fact that extended families often
the low of 22.6 years set in the 1960s.
agreed that "there is no such thing as a
live at a great distance from each other.
Of the many trends influencing
typical family." Today's families are
In 2007, one-fifth of the population
families in Canada, the delay of
populated by step siblings and parents,
aged 45 and over who provided care to
marriage has been one of the most
by same-sex parents, by children,
a parent lived more than an hour away
important. For young people today,
parents, and other relatives - and
from the parent in need."
the transition to adulthood and
increasingly, by couples alone.
Smaller families and households
economic independence is occurring
These fundamental changes in the
are driving changes - both positive
over a longer period of time. Many in
structure of families compel us to rethink
and negative - in everything from
this group are delaying marriage as
how best to respect and support families
housing to transportation to the
they complete educational credentials,
in all of their diversity - at every level
demand for all manner of goods and
pay down educational debt, and
from policy to programs.
services. Just as growing diversity in
establish themselves in the labour
family form requires new thinking, the
market. Young people are also much
Trends in Family Size
trend towards smaller families will
more likely to choose to cohabit as a
Almost one hundred years ago, in 1921,
also have significant implications for
substitute for or precursor to mar-
the average family was comprised of
the ways in which society organizes to
riage. Many younger adults in com-
4.3 people. In most cases, this was
care and provide for people of all ages.
mon-law unions will go onto marry at
made up of two adults and an average
a later age.
of 2.3 children. Throughout the 20th
Age at First Marriage Increasing
The trend toward marriage and
century, average family size continued
Another way to look at the underlying
cohabitation marks a profound shift in
to decline, reaching 3.7 persons in 1971,
changes in family formation is to track
young people's thinking about inde-
8 . TRANSITION SUMMER 2010
THE VANIER INSTITUTE OF THE FAMILY

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pendence, life course, and the meaning
of family. It is important to note that
young people aren't necessarily
delaying forming relationships; they
are choosing different routes to com—
mitment, and some are foregoing
established tradition. For others, high
rates of unemployment and low wage
employment is a significant barrier to
setting up independent households. Coming together, and apart
Canadians aspire to have happyr
lasting relationships. For many, this
will take the form of marriage.
indeed, a clear majority of Canadians
of all ages, fully 80%, report that
getting married at some point is
“very important" (47%} or “some—
what important” {33%} to then-i.T No
less than 90% of teens aged 15 to 19
years state that they expect to get
married, and 33% say that they
expect to stay with the same partner
for life} Clearly, the reasons for choosing
to marry, when and to whom are
varied. Many of these reasons shift
overtime and reflect changes in
social. demographic, economic and cultural norms and patterns of
hehaviou r. What appears to be
relatively constant among Canadians,
however, is the desire to form stable,
long—term, intimate relationships. Many relationships, however, do
end. The dissolution of marriages and
of common‘law relationships is
diffimlt for those directly involved.
and for children, family members, and
friends. Change in the relationship is
more often than not aocompanied by
other changes in living arrangements.
household income. social support,
work status, residence and neighbour-
hood. and homes sense of self. The
care and support that individuals
have access to can make a significant
difference in navigating these transi—
tions and for the long term well—being
of those involved. Children and Family Hamilton: The typical family with children is now
smaller than it once was. Evert with
recent increases in the number of
births, there has been a long-term
decline in the rate of fertility over the
past three decades. For a variety of reasons - high levels of labour force participation, pursuit of post—second—
ary training, effective birth control, and
later marriageto name just a few -
women are having fewer children, and
family size is decreasing. ln runs, families with childrm had
an average of 1.3 diildren at home,
down from 2.0 children in 1931. For the
children. the trend toward smaller
families means that they are growing
up with fewer brothers and sisters and
cousins. For parents, and mothers
especially these decisions mean that
they are spending less of their adult
lives devoted to the care of dependent
children - and that fewer children will
be available to assist them when they
are older themselves. At the same time, comparatively
high levels of reparmering after
divorce or separation means that a small but growing group of children
will experience an even larger family network with the addition of new
parental figures, new step—siblings and
half-siblings.“ We know from the EDGE
|Genera] Social Survey that four in ten
adults going through a martial or
common—law union separation had
dependent children.jcl Understanding

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how stepfamilies and blended families
family context impact long-term health
they fill out the questionnaires and
evolve and care for each other is an
and well-being.
because those who do not fit simply do
important area of current research.
not appear."" But family life is not neat.
Given the pace of change in family
Conclusion
In evaluating family trends and survey
relationships, it is difficult to talk about
Clearly, understanding 'family' in all of
data on Canadian families, Robert Brym
"family structure" as this implies
its diversity is essential for anybody
makes a similar observation: "The
permanence. The terms "family life
involved in assessing the impact of
family is not a crumbling institution.
course" or "family life pathways" are
family change at the individual and
What is happening, however, is that
more appropriate as they convey the
collective level, and in developing
people are freer than they once were to
fluidity and diversity of family life.
public policies that deal effectively with
establish the kinds of family arrange-
This more dynamic picture of family
the evolving complexity of family life.
ments that best suit them."12
lives is an important step forward in
Robert Glossop makes the point that "
understanding the impact of different
[s]tatistics make family life neat because
Happy Birthday, Canada!
living arrangements on children and
of the pre-packaged categories into
their parents, and how changes in
which people must fit themselves when

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Unit 1 Activity # 6
FAMILIES in CANADA: Scholarly Article Review
You will complete an Article Review/Critique on the scholarly publication entitled Transition:
Family Diversity and present your findings in a 3 (three) page report.
How to critique a scholarly article: (use the following as subheadings)
1. Provide a Source Citation
-Include things such as the full title, volume number, date of publication, author(s) and/or organization...
2. Organization/Author background
-Provide some information about the organization and/or author(s). Be sure to include some information
on their background, qualifications, and previously published works.
-Are they credible? Why? Why not?
3. Topic
-Briefly describe the topic of the publication (hint: it's usually in the article's title).
-What is the article's thesis?
-What is the OVERALL point of the article The introduction usually contains useful information about
why the author thinks the topic is important and what s/he thinks the contribution of the article makes to
the existing literature on the subject. More importantly, the introduction and conclusion will often tell you
what the article's thesis is. If you read the introduction and conclusion first, you will be alert to the main
argument and will therefore be better able to identify and determine the strength of the supporting
arguments.
4. Main Ideas
-Summarize the article's content.
-What are their supporting arguments?
5. Conclusions
-What conclusions does the author(s) make?

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