Michigan Family Review is an open access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary publication focusing on professional application and scholarly inquiry. MFR is published once a year with each volume highlighting a single theme. More...

Editorial Board

  • Gloria Albrecht (University of Detroit Mercy)
  • Gary Bischof (Western Michigan University)
  • Thomas W. Blume (Oakland University)
  • Katie Bozek (Transitions Therapy, PLLC)
  • Clifford Broman (Michigan State University)
  • Kathleen Burns-Jager (Michigan State University)
  • Heather E. Dillaway (Wayne State University)
  • Karen Erlandson (Albion College)
  • Sharon Lindhorst Everhardt (Troy University)
  • Roy Gerard (Michigan State University)
  • Chris Latty (Central Michigan University)
  • Carey Wexler Sherman (University of Michigan)

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Volume 21 (2017): (Re)Conceptualizing "Family" Current Issue

Special Editor: Jennifer Haskin, Arizona State University

(Re)Conceptualizing Families: An Introduction

Jennifer Haskin

The aim of this special issue of Michigan Family Review, “(Re) Conceptualizing “Family,” is to highlight scholarly work that challenges the prevailing ideologies of the “traditional family” that center on a white, middle class, heterosexual breadwinner/homemaker framework. In fact, less than half of today’s children in the Unites States are living in a family with two married parents (Pew Research Center, 2015). There is no question that today’s families take on a wide variety of arrangements; most of which do not resemble the “traditional family” model. Each of the articles featured in this volume highlight the varied forms that contemporary families take, explore some of the issues they face, and encourage us all to (re)conceptualize “family.”

“My Wife’s Pregnant, We’re Gonna Have a Baby!” “Oh, Tell Her Congratulations!”Same-Sex Couples’ Desires for Support in Parenting

Allison Jendry James

Same-sex couples with children face a variety of challenges in raising children. The literature does not examine the parenting challenges that couples face and how such challenges affect the lives of their families. What challenges do same-sex couples face in raising their children? How do legal challenges affect same-sex parents and their families? Using data drawn from qualitative interviews with same-sex parents in 2015, I highlight some parenting challenges that same-sex couples still face, despite and within the recent legalization of same-sex marriage. Findings suggest that same-sex parents continue to face challenges even with the legalization of same-sex marriage; however, the severity of these challenges may decrease over time. While this study is limited by the lack of diversity in the sample, participants in this study infer the need for a broad awareness of parenting challenges that same-sex couples continue to face.

“Where’s Your Man?”: Intersectionality in the Adoption Stories of Two Black, Single, Female Sociologists

Cherise A. Harris and Kristie A. Ford

Although there is a small, but growing literature on Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) and adoption, sociological research on adoption by single Black middle-class women remains sparse. In this paper, we, as single, Black, female sociologists, offer an insider view of our journeys through the state and private adoption systems. This paper has three purposes: to (1) draw awareness to the raced, classed, and gendered aspects of the adoption experience, (2) explore the emotional challenges inherent in forming a family through adoption, and (3) examine social notions of “family” and how and why some families are systemically (de)valued within the U.S. It is our hope that the layers of our experience as Black single adoptive mothers by choice will help inform conversations about changing family dynamics in the U.S.

“Steps to Our Culture”: Cultural Cultivation andTeaching Children about a Culture “Left Behind”

Pangri Mehta

Using an Indian dance studio in Tampa, Florida as a point of entry, this study draws upon three years of ethnographic data at a Bollywood dance studio and 12 in-depth qualitative interviews with Indian immigrant parents to examine ethnic and cultural socialization practices. With the rise in immigration, and ethnic and cultural diversity, there is a draw to connect and maintain ties with the culture that was “left behind.” As immigrants build their lives in a new land and immigrant communities flourish, an increasing number of structured activities are being developed for the purpose of cultivating ethnic and cultural knowledge in their children. In this paper, I use interview and ethnographic data with parents of children who are taking Bollywood and classical Indian dance at an Indian dance studio located in suburban Tampa to add further nuance to ethnic and cultural socialization research by coining and developing the concept of cultural cultivation. Expanding upon Annette Lareau’s work on concerted cultivation, I define cultural cultivation as the strategic efforts immigrant parents make through structured activities inside and outside of the home to cultivate cultural knowledge in their children. Cultural cultivation is introduced in this paper as an ethno-cultural socialization process that is deliberate, regarded and taken on principally as women’s work, and seen as beneficial to parents. Though often considered laborious, this paper demonstrates the ways that cultural cultivation is highly valued by interviewees as it enriches cultural competence, helps build social networks, and encourages a sense of community among both Indian immigrant parents and their children.

Friends and Family in Relationship Communities: The Importance of Friendship during the Transition to Adulthood

Kara Takasaki

This article investigates the meaning of friendship during the transition to adulthood. In depth interviews were conducted with a small sample of primarily white young adults from middle-class backgrounds. Friendship was a source of support for respondents during relationship, education, and residential transitions. Respondents described how friendship externally supported marriage and family relationships and could develop into a distinct relationship bond within marriage and family relationships. Respondents experienced instability in their personal communities and pursued friendship for its individualized social support and value in addition to marriage and family relationships. Respondents’ descriptions of friendship in their personal communities reflected a culture of individualism, which helped them to develop adult, middle-class identities.