The American family faces many challenges. A multitude of urgent demands, internal and external, creates stress on the family structure. These ever increasing demands tax families' ability to survive and thrive in contemporary society. Our understanding of the configuration and operation of the family changes as research dispels society's deeply rooted myths. The ongoing effort to gather better data yields new information that provides sociologists and others with a more realistic view of family life as it exists today. One of the most significant changes has occurred in women's role in the family.
The role of women in the family has shifted significantly. Women were described as housekeepers and mothers by Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (212) in 1879. The role of homemaker and mother now incorporates being primary wage earner and single head of the household for many women, according to June Andrews Horowitz (62). Over the past hundred years, despite this changing view of the role of women in the family, and not discounting men's contributions to childcare and household chores, women still maintain the primary responsibility for care of the children and household (Hochschild 7). This primary responsibility for the home and child has been maintained regardless of whether the working woman is married or single.
The increasing number of female single parent families have had a dramatic impact on the view of the traditional family in society.