David Brooks has a 500,000-word essay in The Atlantic arguing that the American nuclear family — mom, dad, and a couple of kids — is a relatively recent invention and has been catastrophic for those who don’t live in the upper-middle class; in short, we need to find a new way to live … or go back to an old way.

In “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake,” Brooks writes about the transition from the extended family to the nuclear family:

This is the story of our times—the story of the family, once a dense cluster of many siblings and extended kin, fragmenting into ever smaller and more fragile forms. The initial result of that fragmentation, the nuclear family, didn’t seem so bad. But then, because the nuclear family is so brittle, the fragmentation continued. In many sectors of society, nuclear families fragmented into single-parent families, single-parent families into chaotic families or no families.

If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.

We notice how Brooks just managed to slip in there nuclear families fragmenting into single-parent families. Is the nuclear family so bad itself, or is it just the next closest step to a one-parent household?

After scrolling down for about a hour-and-a-half to figure out which family structure is ideal, we learn it’s the extended family: “This is a significant opportunity, a chance to thicken and broaden family relationships, a chance to allow more adults and children to live and grow under the loving gaze of a dozen pairs of eyes, and be caught, when they fall, by a dozen pairs of arms.”

Meanwhile, we’ve got others suggesting that young adults live in dormitories for grown-ups or that they move into PodShare housing, which just looks like a bunk bed with a TV at the foot of it and a shared kitchen and bathroom.

If the nuclear family living in its own home really is that bad, let’s not tell the millennials — they’re busy wondering what sort of house they’ll have in socialist America.

Believe it or not, Brooks actually mentions that in passing.

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