How Socio Economic Status Affects Family Life

Socio-economic status has been the major reason, throughout history, whether most families were able to stay together or were torn apart. It is true that a stable job, position in the middle class, and suitable income goes a long way toward keeping families together, but there have been and are many situations in societies where terrible socio-political schemes, environments or economies cause families to be separated, torn asunder or even created when they would never have been formed under more stable or favorable conditions.

When looking at wars and the rarely discussed consequences of war for the families at home, consider that many soldiers were gone for extended periods of time, sometimes for decades, leaving their wives and children behind and unaware of whether the breadwinner or father was even alive or not. Did the soldier establish new relationships and leave a trail of fatherless children on the road to death, occupation or victory over enemies? Was the soldier, as with the Romans armies, allowed to bring his family along? What happened to them when the soldier was killed or died?

Slavery and caste has been and is the most destructive forces to families that are still being separated in areas where slavery exists. Families still suffer from the aftermaths of systems that considered profit from human trafficking before they considered the ability of the family to stay together. The gross cruelties of the slavery upon which America, most European countries, and ancient civilizations were built has lasting effects today, where generations of families are forever separated, not even knowing that there is a relationship.

American slaves were treated with the least regard for them as human beings, and this disregard has repercussions today when men and women find it unrealistic or impossible to adhere to some other culture’s ideas of the nuclear family and marriage. Yet still, most African American slaves overcame the horrific oppression and maintained institutions of marriage, strong immediate and extended family bonds, and oral and documented histories of their lineage that keep families together today.

When the great depression ended, technology, new means of production, more available education, transportation advancements, a booming economy , women’s empowerment and labor movements ensured that the so-called “nuclear family” was able to be established as the norm and as a legally enforceable right. When before, one parent or another had the power to take the children and prohibit the other parent from being involved, now both parents are carefully examined and given shared rights to be involved with their children in the event of divorce or parental separation.

With the establishment of Social Security and Veterans benefits, widowed parents were supported somewhat by the benefits that the partner earned. This allowed millions of families to stay together, to stay in stable communities and to not lose their homes.

With women’s empowerment, women were better able to make a living as single parents, whether their partner died, left, or was divorced. Over time, the shame of divorce or of never marrying has disappeared and gay and lesbian led families are getting exponentially more acceptance.

When there are stable jobs and economies, families have expectations of income that will allow planning, investments in the future, and insurance against catastrophic events. But in unstable economies and with job shortages, families are more inclined to have one parent moving, travelling or temporarily separated from the whole.

Finally, it can never be discussed enough that the substance abuse culture and economy is now a fixed and permanent part of modern culture and society. This subculture reaches into every economic group and into every community, creating poverty, taking children and putting them into safer places. The adults are in and out of jail, in and out of rehabilitation if they are rich, and constantly in and out of other legal and illegal systems that keep them from taking on their full and expected roles as leaders or members of their families.

In fact, the substance abuse culture, whether the individual is a buyer, worker, seller, or even legal counsel, medical field, or law enforcement specializing in drug related issues, needs to be considered as an official socioeconomic group in all of its diversity and favoritism toward the rich and powerful. This is because not one family can truly say that there is not one member who is not at risk, dead, involved in or recovering from the substance abuse business and/or addiction.

In summary, families exist because of social values, systems, laws, rules, religions and norms that define the family unit. But families must exist within the realities of stability and instability in economy, social structure, class, war and peace, culture and subculture, and many other factors which can be quite complex and difficult to isolate and identify.