1. Typical American Family Structure By Kenneth V. Oster, Defining the typical U.S. family structure has never been an easy task. Early in the 20th century, idealized pictures of a typical U.S. family that portrayed a successful husband and a dutiful wife raising the children were very popular. The true U.S. family structure requires a broader description than this picture portrays. Regardless of structure, families are the primary social structure of society designed to equip children to become productive adults. Large Family Large families of the early 20th century included the father and mother and five or more children. High mortality rates at the time caused parents to feel the need to produce several children to make up for those lost due to sickness anddisease. Families living on farms needed many helpers to plant and bring in the crops before modern mechanization reduced the need for manual labor. Large families require sufficient income to ensure that every member has enough to eat and has sufficient housing.