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The Idea File

The Nuclear Family Wasn’t Built to Last

Feb 10, 2020 | 16 videos
Video by The Atlantic

We’re in a moment of cultural lag, says the contributing writer David Brooks. The culprit? The pervasive and enduring myth of the American family.

“We have an archaic idea of what family is,” Brooks says in a new episode of The Idea File. The nuclear-family unit, Brooks argues, is a privilege of the wealthy. Around the world, 38 percent of people still live with extended family. And over the past half century, the share of people living alone in America has doubled. The nuclear family is no longer the norm—and it should no longer be the ideal.

For more, read Brooks’s article, “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake.”

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Authors: Vishakha Darbha, Catherine Spangler

About This Series

Deconstructing the way we live, with The Atlantic's writers