A Little Commonwealth By John Demos

1435 Words6 Pages
The American family has changed throughout history and has brought along gender and sexual norms. However, some parts of the family and these gender norms have been fairly constant as America has progressed and may even be seen today. These changes and similarities can be seen through the families during the colonial times, the 1800s, and the 1950s. In the reading “A Little Commonwealth”, John Demos writes about the life, norms, and misconceptions of early colonial families. He gets his information mainly through censuses found from that time period. Many people today believe that the colonial family consisted of a large extended family with several generations under the same roof. However, standard colonial families were actually made up of small nuclear families (Demos, 62). Nuclear families contain a married couple and their children. Their modest homes were simply not large enough to house many generations and censuses show that 4 to 6 family households were very common (Demos, 64). This is very similar to families today with households that contain the nuclear family. However, today it is not uncommon to hear about extended families. In fact, it can be quite common. Although the household size was relatively small during the colonial era that does not necessarily mean that a married couple had a small number of kids. It simply means that they only had a certain amount of children living with them at a given time. Women usually had their first child shortly after
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