[Ed. – Check it at the door, all you lily-familied privilege monsters. You didn’t build that. Your parents didn’t build that. Some amorphous phenomenon called “the culture” — read, old white guys and their plastic females stooges — built that. To gratify and benefit themselves. But now YOU have to wear it as a badge of shame until the end of time. Or until something newer and hotter comes along to nag you about. Mainly, you have to pay through the nose, because other forms of “family” just never come out being as successful. That’s your fault, dammit, for being successful. Or something. Oh, just write the check and get it over with.]
But despite these trends, the nuclear family is still favored with the most esteemed cultural visibility, still seen as “normal,” “good” and ideal. Divorce is generally seen as failure, cohabitating and raising kids without being married invites the assumption that there is a barrier to marriage, single-parents—especially teenagers, poor people, and/or people of color—are shamed for their “moral failing,” and if you’re an adult older than 35, single, and childfree, everyone from your friends to your bus driver is wondering when you’re going to “settle down.” If your family arrangement includes more than two adults, people who are not biological or adoptive parents raising kids, people who aren’t related to you, or any other number of configurations, then you’re invisible.
It’s time we recognize this for what it is, and name it: nuclear family privilege.
We live in a country where this increasingly uncommon family arrangement gets respect and support that is denied to the rest of us, by systematically affirming and advantaging people who happen to live in nuclear families. Though as Slaughter points out, no one—including families with two working parents—can make the workplace work for them today, the challenges and struggles are undeniably felt most acutely by those in single-parent and “nontraditional” households. In this respect, nuclear family privilege is white privilege’s cousin—a system built to privilege a household unit historically more common (and favored) among middle- and upper-class white men.