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The New Family: 1 in 3 Kids Lives With A Single Parent

A new study by the Pew Research Center reports, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never married. About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married. Broken down further, about 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent who were never married. Within those two groups, a sizable chunk—6 percent— have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married. Very interesting! As we all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner next week (yum), I’m curious what some of your family tables will look like. My own immediate family pretty much sums up this report. See…

I’m a single mom living alone with JD. My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. My father has a girlfriend and my mom is single. My older brother, Carlo married a single mom and got a bonus daughter who is 6 (Yipeeeee! I got a bonus niece and JD got a best bud and cousin for life!) My younger brother, Brian is single and LOVING IT, as he says. "More Americans are living in these new families, so it seems safe to assume that there will be more of them around the Thanksgiving dinner table," said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.

When I think about some of my friends this study is even more relevant. I have a recently divorced single mom friend who is raising her son solo now and I have a guy friend from NYC who has full custody of his 6-year-old son (the mom lives in another state). My friend Matt Logelin's wife died 27 hours after giving birth to their daughter and almost three-years-later, Matt has a lovely girlfriend, Brooke, who he is raising Maddy with. My best friend will visit her father and step-mom with her family on Thanksgiving morning, then dine at her husband’s parents’ home and finally enjoy dessert with her (single) mom and family members from her mom’s side.

But it’s not just real-life demonstrating “the new family,” just turn on the T.V. Last night on ABC’s Modern Family, Manny celebrated his birthday with his one-time single mom, Gloria who married much-older Jay. NBC’s Parenthood has two relevant storylines running right now, too. Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham) plays a single mom who was forced to move in with her parents because of financial struggles. Her little brother, Crosby Braverman (Dax Shepard) learned he had a son five years after he was born when a one-time hookup, Jasmine (Joy Bryant) showed up at the door with his child. They recently got engaged after spending some time parenting on and off as a committed couple.

Celebrities also contribute to the “new family.” Christina Aguilera and husband, Jordan Bratman recently filed for divorce and Aguilera appeared on The Tonight Show saying, "More power to all the single moms out there.” She also noted she was raised by a single mom herself, and that it turned out fantastic.

As a single mom who never imagined she would be parenting solo and approaching 30, single, I have to say I am, what are the words…hmm…happy to have the company of all of these modern families. Encouraged by the success stories single moms and dads—and divorced parents share about their well-rounded children. Delighted that my son will have these examples all around him, namely the beautiful modern family of my brother, his wife and their daughter (and hopefully the new bundle I am begging them to make, hee-hee.) The thing is, when reports come out touting the “new family,” I just hope everyone is reading the most important word there and that is family. Family is what you make of it, be it traditional or modern, or “new.” JD calls some of my special girlfriends, “Aunts”—we’re not related by blood, but we’re family for sure.

I bet there are "new families" all around you. Take a look. They are magical.

Tell me about your family. Are you married, divorced, single? Do you have any bonus kiddos from a new marriage? I can’t wait to read about your family (thank you for reading about mine for the past 3 ½ years!)

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