US Family Structure: Colonial to Domestic StructureThe ideals of an American household from the late 18th century to the late 19th century shifts from a colonial to a domestic family.This is partially due to the change in economic and social conditions.European immigrants and middle-class white families conform to the new ideal, while other groups, such as the Native Americans, Mexicans, and African Americans, choose to live in alternative family systems.The dominant class also outwardly expresses their opinions towards these nonconforming groups.
The ability of a group to assimilate to the domestic ideal is largely based on the economic and social status of the group. The dominant family system of the late 18th century consists of colonial family ideology. In the late 1700's the primary concept of a family is that of an organic and productive unit in which the father is the head with everyone having a significant and respected role.
The perception of colonial family does not include intimate and emotional relationships amongst family members; rather the family is treated as more of a task-oriented functional system responsible for itself as a whole.Sometimes the family is even called its own "little commonwealth" (Morantz-Sanchez).The family is hierarchical with the husband as the head of the family and the woman being subordinate.
However, the colonial man must govern his wife carefully and properly; the ideal family conditions include married couples are chase to one another.Professor Ulrich, who studied this period by looking at court depositions, proclaims the woman as a "deputy" husband.This notion, along with the idea that each family member participates in task-oriented work signifies that while there may be a hierarchy all roles are respected.Furthermore, children, who are considered the responsibility of the family, have a short childhood ending at about the age of seve..