Is an ugly girl with five cows really worth more than a pretty girl with one? This question is different today than it was hundreds of years ago. Family, as we know it today still tends to be based on property including one spouse and offspring. Marriage is still legally regulated and is a contract between two partners; however the emphasis on appearance has become significant. The family unit has changed; single parents, blended families and non-standard sexual relationships are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
In J. H. Plumb’s “ The Dying Family” the stereotypical family unit is contrasted by the current state of the family. It is obvious that the definition of family has evolved especially in modern culture. Coming from the eyes of a twenty-year-old single male, one may ask, why bother, with marriage if you can be with plenty of different women. As an individual, with age and maturity this indeed may change. However the commitment of marriage seems to be a risky, and potentially expensive undertaking.
One may agree with Plumb when he states, “ the family has always been molded by the changing needs of society”. (The Dying Family 9). Today, one may choose a pretty girl with one cow and reap the initial benefit, then choose another girl with the similar appearance and more property. As a society we are more apt to upgrade. Family education is still vital to success, but maintaining a standard consistent unit is not always essential. Divorce is considered to be socially acceptable today.
Some people do not even consider marriage as an option; rather they choose to live together with no legal commitment. In the past there was never such a thing as a prenuptial agreement. In our society these adaptations are being readily accepted. One would say we are in the middle of the “now generation”, as sung by “The Black Eyed Peas” “And I just cant wait I need it immediately and I just cant wait I want it immediately”. The lyrics in this song represent how it is in today’s fast moving society.
It seems as though people do not want to put time into relationships, and they give up much to easily. There are no real consequences other then loss of property. Coming from a very stable family with parents that have been happily married for twenty-four years, ones child would hope to have the same thing. Nonetheless, one has to be realistic and weigh all of the options. Family in some form or another is always going to be a part of the human existence. The definition, on the contrary changes. The article “The Dying Family” could simply be modified to be “The Ever Changing Family”.