Posts Tagged ‘family’

They wait until you’re alone

03.06.2013 11:00 PM

Thanks to a carefully orchestrated conspiracy of time zones, work schedules, and rainstorms, I completely missed Fannie’s post earlier this day until this evening. And when I say missed, I really mean it – the comments have long since hit their ceiling at 50. I hope I’m not crossing a line here, but I thought I could both contribute a bit more to the excellent discussion she’s already started as a member of a family headed by two women and give everyone a new comments section to bring up unfinished points.

One issue raised by several comments was how they, as members of same-sex couples, have either mentally prepared themselves for how they would respond to appreciably similar situations or have assessed actual statements or actions that implied that a confrontation could be brewing. Having been raised by two mothers I’m familiar with these fears, which one comment described as a mess of impulses to either “duck” or “cut-and-run”. I still vividly remember eating in a restaurant in Little Rock, while visiting family in Arkansas, with only my brother and parents and having an uncomfortable encounter with our server.

Initially, there seemed to be no problem. We ordered our choice of beverages and he kindly and quickly provided them. But after he returned with a salad one of my mothers had ordered, the questions began with him awkwardly and uncertainly probing – “Are you two sisters?” My parents’ eyes darted to each other, then the one closest him, stared almost vacantly at me while slowly exhaling. She explained later that she had been puzzling over how she could best shepherd me and my brother out of the restaurant if a physical confrontation occurred.

Like a game of twenty questions but with far more worries, the waiter would pose a simple question about my parents’ relationship (“Are you cousins?”), receive a polite but simple “no” then disappear to assist another server or deliver a plate to another table. After it had became quite evident that they were lesbians by process of elimination, the waiter explained himself in code, saying, “I’m like you.” The fear of being publicly outed was in fact something all of us shared.

That fear was actually pretty logical. There were too many chances for everything to go wrong. From the at least thirty other people seated around us to the lack of anti-discrimination laws for either employees or patrons in the state, there were simply too many reasons for either him or my parents to openly disclose their identities. The laws and culture of much of the United  States make interaction between LGBT* people risky enough that sometimes even speaking with each other, even briefly and as near strangers, is something that can’t always be done openly.

The loneliness that comes from that, I think, is what’s missing from the staged situation.

My family’s other experiences with similarly awkward situations all share a common feature – unlike the families in the recorded restaurants, we were all alone at the time. My parents weren’t present when a friend I hadn’t seen in a decade but who was aware that I personally knew my sperm donor asked why I didn’t live with him and then refused to budge from his conviction that I needed to have a parental relationship with him. Neither I nor my other mother was there when one of my parents was accused by a fellow member of our church of having raised a “defective” child (by which she meant me). My non-biological mother was removed against her will from the court case over my custody, leaving my biological mother alone to defend herself against accusation of having “stolen” sperm.

Fannie asked a very important question – what would you do if you were one of the bystanders to that situation? But I think half the problem is that situations with so many potential allies are rare. Usually, they wait for you to be alone.


What Does it Mean to “Strengthen Marriage”?

12.04.2012 11:28 PM

It is clear from the comments on my previous post that I need to explain what I mean by the phrase, “to strengthen marriage.” I’ll be the first to admit that the phrase is banal, vague, overused and misunderstood—but I used it because I’m not sure what else to use to communicate the idea that marriage as an institution is broken and in need of repair.

Marriage is more than the bond between two adult individuals. It is also an institution—a structure that contributes to the social order and has a social purpose. (In the case of marriage, the purposes include to legally bind the spouses and establish social expectations of love, permanence, fidelity, and mutual care and support; and to legally and socially connect children to their biological parents and to thus ensure their welfare.)

So while strengthening marriage includes helping specific married couples to avoid divorce (through counseling, retreats, etc.)— because of marriage’s “institutional status,” strengthening marriage is not limited to that. Strengthening marriage as an institution also means shaping the broad set of social beliefs commonly held about marriage so that these beliefs work to guide our behavior as individuals in a helpful way—in a way that helps people achieve their aspirations to get and stay married. In this way, “strengthening marriage” benefits those who are currently unmarried, as well as those who are married.

If I stick with the public education analogy that I evoked in my previous post, this is akin to saying that rather than only focusing on educating one child at a time, the strategy to fix public education must also reform the entire system (if it is going to have any widespread success in educating individual children). Similarly, strengthening marriage involves not only measures to strengthen individual marriages, but measures to fix the whole “marriage system,” or what I like to think of as the “marriage culture” (if it is going to have any widespread success in helping individual adults get and stay married).

But before you conjure up ideas of shotgun weddings and loveless marriages, let me explain what I think a strong marriage culture would look like.

To me, a strong marriage culture would mean a world in which Kayla, the single mom whose story was told in my previous post, would not find herself in the predicament she is in in the first place, because marriage and children would be more connected in people’s minds, and Kayla would have thought more carefully before acting married (sex, moving in, having a baby) without actually being married (that is, having developed a well-thought out commitment to a wisely-chosen man). In other words, strengthening marriage means working to create a society in which people choose their mates wisely, make a public commitment (marriage), and then form families after this commitment is made.

A strong marriage culture is not a culture in which unwed mothers and their children are condemned (we cannot know the circumstances, and it is not our place to judge), but it is one in which the instance of children growing up without their two married parents is increasingly rare. It is not a culture in which people feel pressured to marry “just because” of a pregnancy, but it is one in which people would not act nonchalant about having children outside of marriage. I know that this balance is difficult, but in order to avoid the wrongs of past stigmas and to avoid the unintended consequences of current laissez faire attitudes, it is an important balance to strike.

In my opinion, a strong marriage culture would include at least four cultural assumptions: Read More


Why Not Strengthen Marriage?

11.26.2012 9:33 PM

In the comments in response to my earlier blog post, one “mini-conversation” that emerged was this: is the institution of marriage worth fighting to keep, or is it better to focus our energies on things like access to birth control, daycare, healthcare, and a stronger economy in general?

Mont D. Law expressed the latter view: “OTC birth control pills would do more for these two people than all the marriage classes in the world. Health care and a functioning public education/library/daycare system will do more for their children. I don’t disagree that there is a problem I just don’t think that you can solve that problem using a institution that even Ms. Lapp agrees has been losing credibility since 1968.”

Diane M. expressed the former:  Why not promote the idea that the man should be committed to the woman and his children and stay around to help support them?  What if having the man stay there kept the children out of poverty?  So anyhow, about the institution of marriage. You don’t seem to think it can help. Why not? I know divorce is up and people aren’t getting married, but why is that a given? Why can’t it work again? Why can’t society change?

I, too, would like to better understand why people see marriage as an institution that is inevitably broken. What if we thought in the same way about the institution of public education? I can’t imagine any compassionate person saying, “Oh, public schools are crap now. So what if education is an aspiration of most people. It’s not gonna happen anymore. Let’s just let the chips fall where they may. Those who can afford it can go to private schools and reap the benefits, but everyone else will just have to remain uneducated.”

No—instead we push for reform. And of course this requires creativity and hard work and time and new articulations of old ideas, and it requires that we cultivate the virtue of hope because we have no certain assurance of results. But despite all this, we still hold on to the principle that every child inAmericaought to have access to quality education. To dismiss that dream as poppycock is to resign ourselves to growing inequality.

Similarly, marriage in Americais broken.  And what is our social response? Largely resignation to this new norm.  But why? The majority of people still want to get married. We know from the social sciences that good marriages are good things for everyone involved. And given the growing “marriage gap,” to stop looking for ways to help people achieve the stable, lifelong marriages they desire is to resign ourselves to growing inequality.

When I hear the sentiment that single mothers would be better served by affordable housing, healthcare, and quality daycares than by husbands, I wonder why things must be an “either/or” instead of a “both/and”? My friend, Kayla, is a single mother of two and lives in subsidized housing a couple streets over from me. Kevin, her boyfriend and father of her 20 month old daughter, also lives with them, off and on. When Kayla and I are talking about the deepest desires of her heart, what does she confide in me? That she longs for universal healthcare and good daycare and affordable housing? No. She tells me how much she loves her boyfriend, despite his lack of industriousness and his affection for pot, and how she wishes that he would get his life together a little more so that they could get married and be a family.

Once while talking about her own parents’ divorce and her estranged relationship with her dad, Kayla said, “I hate the way I grew up. I don’t want my kids to grow up the same way. Kevin and I are not our parents. But sometimes we act just like them.” The burning question for Kayla is, “How do I give my children the stability I did not have?” I’m sure that Kayla thinks the answer includes economic solutions that will give her children financial stability, but even closer to her heart are solutions that will give her children family stability—at least that’s what she spends a lot more time talking about. By the way Kayla talks, sometimes it sounds as if she would choose a future of poverty and a healthy, stable marriage to Kevin over a future alone, but with all her financial needs met.

I am NOT trying to argue that marriage is a fix-all, or that we shouldn’t be concerned about economic issues, or that it is a good idea to tell people in bad relationships to “just get married.” Marriage alone will not make a bad relationship better. However, given what we know from research about the outcomes for children who grow up with two married parents, and given that most people long to have a lifelong commitment to one spouse, I think we’d be selling ourselves and posterity short by giving up on the idea of working to strengthen marriage in America.


Cultivating a Sexual Ethic from Conception to Birth

06.20.2012 5:54 PM

Few scenes are more tragic to imagine than a father walking out of a hospital alone with his newborn infant because the mother has died in childbirth. Perhaps this is the family’s first baby, or perhaps there are other little ones waiting for their mother at home with hand-drawn ‘welcome home’ signs. Either situation holds unimaginable anguish and loss. Today I spent time looking at these family’s private photos, photos of the mother with her child before her death. It was sad to realize that they were the lucky ones; most mothers who die from childbirth never hold their babies.

A woman giving birth in the United States today is twice as likely as her mother was to die from childbirth.

And that’s a conservative estimate. The statistics on file for maternal mortality rates (which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have sheepishly admitted could be missing up to two-thirds of the actual deaths) have escalated so drastically that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both issued reports within the last year demanding national recognition that American maternal mortality rates are a violation of human rights.

The head scientist in the reproductive health division of CDCP has also pointed out that “maternal deaths are the tip of the iceberg…It is important to consider the women who get very, very sick and do not die, because for every woman who dies, there are fifty who are very ill, suffering significant complications of pregnancy, labor and delivery.”

Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. spends twice as much per birth than any other nation (not a huge surprise there) but is out ranked in safety by the same nations. Even countries like Kuwait and South Korea have figured out how to keep more mothers alive than we have. While other nations are improving their care, the U.S. is one of just 23 countries that are burying more mothers this year than the year before.

But to rank the U.S. against other developed nations is a categorization of nation’s mortality rates that (unbelievably) skews the statistics in our favor. If we were to put all the nations on the chart the truth would be even more shocking. The World Health Organization has proven that “the vast majority of maternal deaths occur in developing countries.” Maybe Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had it right when they went to Sub-Saharan Namibia to give birth.

The fact that undeveloped countries have better mortality rates is actually a clue to the solution. It tips us off that American maternal mortality rates aren’t caused by a lack of spending or modern technology. Nations, both developing and modern, where mothers and babies live and don’t die, are nations that balance their use of technology with a cultural respect for birth as a human experience that extends beyond the physical and medical realms to include the spiritual and emotional needs of the woman. The lack in our birth care is an impoverished understanding of birth that doesn’t acknowledge the full range of needs that must be met for a naturally healthy birth.
I realize it doesn’t seem first apparent (or even reasonable) to claim that there is a connection between women’s physical deaths and their unmet emotional, environmental, and relational needs. I will make a medical case for this claim, but to get us thinking along different lines, consider first the effect of environment on other physical processes of the body. How much effect does the environment and need for privacy have on someone’s ability to have a bowel movement? That’s a purely physical, biological process. How could environment affect the process? Experience tells us it does. But to find a true comparison with birth we’d still have to add a psychosomatic, emotional, and spiritual dynamic. With these added considerations it is more apt to compare the needs of a birthing mother to the needs of a person deep in the throes of the sexual experience. I might garner some sympathy from the men if they could imagine sexually performing—publically. Or for women who have not given birth, to imagine trying to reach climax in the same situation. Read More


Summertime and Moving Daddy’s House Was Not Easy

08.10.2011 5:58 PM

For divorced families everywhere summertime is a time of transition.  In these days of joint custody, most children live with their fathers during the summer.  Some spend the summer with their mothers if their father has primary custody.  In my family, my grandsons live with their father at Daddy’s House for the summer.

This year was no exception.  By early June my grandsons were in Vermont hiking, swimming, running every day with Dad, plus a little tennis, soccer and La Crosse thrown in.  This year they even got in a little fishing on the banks of the Connecticut River.  And with the fishing came another gift of summer, poison ivy.  But with this summer there was something else. They spent it packing up their room.  Daddy’s House was on the move. My son and grandsons were moving this summer to Dallas, Texas.

The boys were very excited.  The move was in the middle of their summer vacation and this time they were old enough to ask to decorate their new rooms in Dallas.  Football was definitely on their minds when they picked out their team sheets and comforters for their beds.

That was where Grandy came in.  As I mentioned in my book It’s Not About You: A Grandparent’s Guide to Surviving Divorce in the Family, just like I had done for their first room at Daddy’s House,  a grandparent can help with the move by  shopping for their grandsons’ new room even if you are an “Airport Grandmother” like I am.  When my grandsons requested the teenager’s staple, bean bag chairs, I realized those teen age years would  soon be upon us. My oldest grandson wanted his favorite team logo on his but my youngest grandson decided he really wanted a “Big Kahuna Chair.”  Whatever that was, I knew I would find it.  I agreed because his birthday was coming up soon. The plus was I could see him enjoy my birthday gift on Skype before he returned to “Mommy’s House” and school.

Just after the 4th of July, Daddy’s House was ready for the move.  The new sheets had arrived for my grandsons’ bedroom and the big Kahuna chair and the beanbag chair, as promised, had been ordered to arrive right after they did at their new location in Dallas.

My grandsons returned to Mommy’s House to await the arrival of Dad and the moving van in Dallas. A few days later, after my son supervised the loading of  “Daddy’s House” onto the moving van, he began the 1800-mile drive to his family’s new home.  I think he decided the trip would go faster without “Are we there yet Daddy?” echoing in the back seat.  And he also looked forward to seeing his sons faces coming into  “Daddy’s House” with everything in place and put away.  After all they would only be separated a few days. Time together is precious for divorced fathers and their children in the summer.

Three days later my son arrived at the new location for Daddy’s House. It was completely empty but my son thought he could manage sleeping on the floor for the few days he would have to wait for the moving van to arrive and his sons to join him in Dallas. There were so many things for him to do. One very important thing was to connect to the Internet so he could Skype with his sons as usual. But alas there could be no Internet connection before the TV went in and the TV was on the Truck.  There was no kitchen to put away until the truck arrived, no beds to make, no pictures to hang. They were all on the truck. Also my son was beginning a new job and he needed to set up his new office, but everything for his office was on the truck. In other words my son was alone in an empty apartment without even a pot……….. coffee or otherwise.

While my son was there waiting something did arrive and on time.  No not the Moving Van, but “Big Brown” arrived to save the day with “The Big Kahuna Chair.”   My son had no pot but he did have something to sit on.  After a few days of sleeping on the floor or sitting in the “Big Kahuna Chair”, the adventure started to become tedious and uncomfortable.  He started to call the moving company.  Where in fact was Daddy’s House?  Was it almost there?  The boys after all were waiting.   The answer from one of the biggest moving companies in the nation was “WE HAVE NO DRIVERS.”  Day after day the precious days of summer were passing and each day the answer was the same “WE HAVE NO DRIVERS.” The days turned into one week and then another and the answer continued the same.

Finally my son asked, “In this economy, with so many people looking for work are you telling me you have no drivers?”  The answer remained the same “WE HAVE NO DRIVERS” followed by one even worse  “ your household goods remain in Vermont.”  My son was so frustrated.  Why didn’t this company realize they were moving his “life” in that truck, not just his “Household Goods?”

As the third week ticked away the moving company’s mantra “WE HAVE NO DRIVERS” became very stale. Not being able to see another day of his precious time with his sons slip away, he finally sent for them.  They would just have to share this “adventure” together. My grandsons were excited, after all the “Big Kahuna chair,” the Bengal Tiger beanbag chair and “Six Flags” were waiting.

When my grandsons finally arrived in Texas, only a week remained of their summertime with their dad. It was spent in an empty apartment, with no beds, no TV, no tables and no chairs beside the “Big Kahuna” and the Bengal Tiger, but at least they were all together.  Thank goodness children of divorce can prove to be very flexible.

After a week, their unforgettable adventure was at an end. The fun of decorating their new bedrooms would have to wait three months until they returned to spend Thanksgiving with Dad. Disappointed they left for “Mommy’s House and school. In an empty office the next day my son started his new job. The summer of 2011 was officially over.  And then  28 days after the house was loaded and they had left Vermont, the Moving Van, “Daddy’s House inside, finally arrived in Dallas. Yee-Ha!!!!!!!!!

A suggestion my son & I made was for the moving company to change their company slogan to:

“YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO US

WE MOVE LIVES NOT JUST FURNITURE!”


Grandparents Teach Us to Remember

05.27.2011 8:10 PM

Memorial Day is the perfect day for grandparents everywhere to spend the day with their grandchildren passing on to them what is so important to remember.   Let them know that this is a special day, more than celebrating the end of the school year or the first bar-b-que of summer  Today is the day to remember all those brave men and now women too, who have given the gift of their life to defend this country to keep us free.

I want to share with my grandchildren the pictures of their great grandfather in his World War I uniform, their paternal grandfather in Korea in his air force blue and their maternal grandfather as an Army Chaplain while he served his many years.  Although I have no pictures,  I want them to know that a great,great, great….. Grandfather on their mother’s side fought in the Revolution.

When I was very young I remember my mother teaching me the words to the WWI song “Over There” and to the poem “In Flanders Field.”     I remember Pearl Harbor, although I was only nine, and the chocolate chip cookies I use to make and send to my cousins overseas.  I want my grand children to know that the song “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” is a World War II song and to always remember their cousin survived the beaches of Normandy only to die later on an island in the Pacific.

And even if on 9/11 my oldest grandson was only a baby and his brother not yet born, I want them to remember.  And I want my grandsons to say thank you to every man and woman they see in uniform who is presently serving.   As the curator of their family’s history, my duty as their grandmother is to teach them all I remember, plus what my mother taught me. I hope other grandparents will join me in teaching their grandchildren to remember too on this Memorial Day.

Today is the perfect day to take your grandchildren to visit a National Cemetery or one of the battlefields from the Revolution or the Civil War. If you have friends whose love one is serving in the military ,call up or pay a visit.  And for those of you who do remember and want to do something to say thank you, check with the Wounded Worriers or many of the other Military Family Support Groups and ask how you can help.

Most of all, let us remember those who live with the loss of their loved ones every day: the widows, widowers, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandparents and yes cousins too.   Reach out and tell them you are remembering with them.

During WWI a Canadian physician, Lt. Colonel John McCrae, caring for  the dying and the wounded, wrote the famous poem “In Flanders Field”.   One particular part of it seems particularly appropriate this Memorial Day:

“To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; Be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We hall not sleep, though poppies grow

in Flanders fields.”


Grandparents’ Right of Contact With Grandchildren

05.13.2011 4:03 PM

It seems that everywhere I look I see articles about grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren.  Sad stories of illness, death, cruelty, and alienation: grandparents bereft from the loss of living grandchildren, their most important legacy. There are also stories of grandparents’ courageous battles with the government, seeking the right to see their grandchildren: costly battles financially but even worse emotionally.

In my blog post of April 13, I mention that there are hopes of winning grandparenvisitation rights, but that what is won only has worth if there are tools for enforcement built into the laws.

“Grandparent visitation issues are fast becoming a growing national social problem, and we as grandparents really do need to do what we can to raise awareness,” says Susan Hoffman founder of Grandparent-Grandchild Connection, advocates of the issue.  The truth however is that it isn’t just a national social problem but a global one.  It was reported recently in The Guardian,that an estimated  one million grandparents in Britain are being prevented from having contact with their grandchildren.

Opponents of laws to give grandparents visitation rights bring up the loss of parental control as reasons to withhold such rights.  There are indeed some extreme cases of grandparents who are mentally ill, abusive, alcoholic etc. where grandparent contact could be detrimental. But thankfully, the extreme is not the majority.  The majority of grandparents shouldn’t be deprived of knowing their grandchildren just because there are certain instances that require much more careful review by the courts to determine how beneficial or harmful such grandparent contact would be.   It is also up to the court to determine if the facts under review reveal whether it is the parent’s behavior at alienating  children from their grandparents that is causing the real problem.

Maybe it’s time to look at this problem from a different perspective. Grandparents aren’t the only victims in this Rights War. Aren’t the most vulnerable victims to be considered the grandchildren?  It is their right to be in contact with their grandparents that is being infringed upon.

The Divorce Family Pledge in my book IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: A Grandparent’s Guide to Surviving Divorce in the Family includes the following:

“The right to communicate with….. all grandparents, at a time previously agreed to, by all means available, including telephone, answering machine, cell phone, computer, Web Cam, fax or mail, without any interference from either parent…”

All family members,regardless of divorce in the family or not, need to understand that their children’s contact with their grandparents serves a very important role that no one else can fill: a biological bond.  This is the same kind of bond donor children so desperately seek. The answer to the face in the mirror, individual personality traits and talents and the culture ones roots originated from is information each human being requires to feel whole.

Let’s hope parents will finally become aware that all children need the connection with their grandparents.  Yes, they even have that right. Such a relationship will have a positive effect on their adjustment to their life experiences ahead.

Achieving the right for Children of Divorce to have contact with their grandparents does not require the action of courts, big brother or passage of new laws.  Children of Divorce can win them if their parents are willing to take the “You” out of the divorce chaos, accepting that a child’s welfare is much more important than getting some kind of revenge on a perceived past wrong.  Hopefully parents will take the time to celebrate the blessing their child has been given by having one or more grandparents alive and anxious to give them all their love.   Before any parent refuses to allow their children to have contact with their  grandparents they need to stop and remember one thing, someday, if they are lucky, they will be a grandparent too.


US and UK Grandparents Share Common Bond

04.28.2011 7:00 PM

On this day when the world is focused on London and the Royal Wedding, I keep thinking about the effect it must be having on grandparents all over the world: British grandparents in particular.  After focusing so many years writing my book on helping grandparents survive divorce in the family, it is a pleasure to focus on a wedding for a change.  Especially on a wedding that involves an adult child of divorce whose family has dealt with the intricacies of dealing with the divorce problem for two generations of weddings.

I think that grandparents in particular are thrilled to watch this Royal Wedding. After all  during most of our lives we have experienced three of them. The first one in 1947 when as a Princess, Queen Elizabeth married her prince, Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten.  We did not watch the glorious spectacle on the tiny television screens of that day; rather we crowded into theatres to watch the event on the big screen.  As we left the theatre, each of us girls was dreaming of becoming a princess and marrying their prince one day.

We never dreamed that as we would grow up, marry and have families, so many of us would have to deal with divorce in the family.  In both the U.S. and the U.K. grandparents dealing with divorce seems to be at a similar rate. We also share another similarity.  According to an article by Dr. Miriam Stoppard in this week’s U.K. Mirror, “Half of the UK’s 14 million grandparents look after grandchildren and almost all of them do it for free.”   Even though the U.S. has more grandparents due to their larger population, the U.S. grandparents are filling in to take care of their grandchildren in the same way.

With this particular wedding ,as grandparents, we are sharing joy in the joining of these two beautiful young people, one of whom we previously shared such sadness and loss.   It is a time to think of the prayer many grandparents have when each of their grandchildren are born, “Please let me live to see this grandchild’s wedding!”  So today we will see a wedding that in part answers this prayer.  For Catherine, who has no living grandparent to share this day, grandparents around the world will  be sending her wishes for a happy life.  For  William who is blessed with living grandparents, we will be sending him our hopes that his life will be happy and as long as his great grandmother’s.

It is sharing in all these similar joys and sorrows that bond us today.  Grandparents are watching this celebration of a Royal Wedding in the hopes that their grandchildren will be inspired and encouraged to continue the tradition of marriage for as long as they all shall live.


What Makes A Family

09.16.2010 4:54 AM

In her most recent post, Amy wondered what study (or studies?) a radio report referred to. There’s been one study in the news this week which certainly sounds like it fits the bill. For the sake of discussion, here’s some descriptions of the study:

From yesterday’s New York Times:

A majority of Americans now say their definition of family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples.

At the same time, most Americans do not consider unmarried cohabiting couples, either heterosexual or same-sex, to be a family — unless they have children.

The findings — part of a survey conducted this year as well as in 2003 and 2006 by Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington — are reported in a new book, “Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family,” to be published on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation.

The Russell Sage Foundation’s website provides a little more detail: Read More