Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were, now turns her attention to the mythology that surrounds today’s familythe demonizing of untraditional” family forms and marriage and parenting issues. Mothers are going to remain in the workforce, family diversity is here to stay, and the nuclear family can no longer handle all the responsibilities of elder care and childrearing. Coontz gives a balanced account of how these changes affect families, both positively and negatively, but she rejects the notion that the new diversity is a sentence of doom.
In chapters like "Working with What We've Got," Coontz provides an antidote to Dan Quayle's "new consensus on the importance of the traditional family." She argues that the traditional family is not the only model; there is also the two-parent primary breadwinner model, a historically new form that is possibly giving way to a postmarriage culture. For Coontz, it is important to go beyond sound bites and ensure that history, sociology, and economics are used, that new consensus thinkers do not invoke selective data or simplified conclusions or create "quack family medicine"laws in taxation, housing, zoning, divorce, and childcare that favor married couples only. A family historian at Evergreen State College, Coontz references such data as the established correlations between a mother's educational attainment and her children's success, which are not cited by critics of nontraditional families. Although this is Coontz's fourth book about families, her voluminous notes display all recent research. Zestful and pointed; for all social science collections.Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., New York