Most women in the early '60s filled traditional gender roles.
Most women in the early '60s filled traditional gender roles.

The 1960s were a time of change. Young people, watching their friends and family drafted into the Vietnam War, began to question traditional society and the government. Women changed their views on their place and role in the family. New ideas emerged, changing the look of families both then and now.

Family Makeup

In 1960, more than 70 percent of families still looked much like the family of the 1950s, with a man who brought in the family's sole income, children and a stay-at-home wife and mother. Most still embraced traditional gender roles -- men were tasked with working in a career, and women were tasked with keeping the home in order and taking care of the children. By the mid- to late-1960s, however, more women were entering the work force, and the makeup of the family had begun to change.

Political Backdrop

The population in the 1960s was youthful, with 70 million baby boomers coming into adulthood. As many were drafted into the Vietnam War, college campuses erupted in protests. Tension between the United States and Russia mounted into the Cold War, which lasted decades. In acts of defiance against the government and traditional society, some people and families chose to leave mainstream culture and attempt to live away from society.

Women and Mothers

With the publishing of "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan in 1963, many women began to leave the role of housewife and start careers of their own. "The Feminine Mystique" chronicled the lives of women who were unhappy and unfulfilled in their traditional roles and encouraged women to seek more. This attitude, along with a changing culture, changed the nature of the typical family. Women began to enter the work force, and, as a result, demanded their husbands assist them more with housework and child care.

Cultural Influences

From music to art, the 1960s were a time of change. Sexuality became more open. In 1960, the birth control pill was introduced. Teenagers rebelled with their music; long hair; and in some cases, by dropping out of society altogether. As young people demanded change, family values began to change as well.