By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com May 08 2013 1:37 PM ET
Turns out the the critics of Murphy Brown — who had a child out of wedlock on TV and got lambasted by then Vice President Dan Quayle for doing so — were right about one thing: TV does have an impact on how Americans view the concept of family. According to a new study by uSamp and Oxygen Media, a full 87% of Americans believe the definition of a traditional family has evolved and 55% say there is no longer such a thing as a "traditional" family. Society is apparently becoming increasingly more comfortable with how family is defined and judged, as well as changing gender roles in the new family dynamic.
The study finds that Diff’rent Strokes (a '70s series in which a single white guy adopted two black kids) may have been ahead of its time; it and other shows like Modern Family and The New Normal and even the Oxygen series I'm Having Their Baby (which featured a young mother choosing a gay couple to adopt her child last season) reflect how Americans see the world now.
Oxygen commissioned the study to coincide with their first docu-short film, Untold Stories of Motherhood, director Marilyn Agrelo's look at the new modern family and how they develop their remarkable bonds of love, from open adoption to same-sex parenting.
The study always revealed that 82% of people define a “mother” as the woman who raised them rather than as the woman who gave birth to them (which was at 53%).
The study noted that many social changes are becoming more acceptable to the general population than they were 10 years ago including:
Adopting a child from a different race than your own (87 percent)
Interracial families (87 percent)
Stay-at-home father (86 percent)
Same-sex marriage (85 percent)
Single parent homes (84 percent)
Same-sex adoption (83 percent)
More people believe same-sex couples can be great parents (79 percent), women are taking on traditionally male roles today (88 percent), men take on traditionally female roles (76 percent), and even a single father can act as a mom (78 percent).
Additionally, Americans today are seeing the benefits of mixing families, whether it’s race, biology or sexual orientation and 94 percent think mixed families (those with both biological and adoptive children) are becoming more common. Children from interracial families are exposed to more culture (51 percent) and are thus more accepting of other races and ethnicities (65 percent). Furthermore, 79 percent of adults think that same-sex couples can be great parents and can give their children the same opportunities and love to their children (73 percent) as heterosexual couples.
Season two of I'm Having Their Baby premiers June 12 at 10 p.m. EST/PST, delves deeper into the lives of birth mothers and adoptive couples, and on May 12, Oxygen.com will premiere a web series featuring five of the birth mothers from season one and their current relationship with the adoptive families (including one endearing same-sex couple).