8 Common Family Structures in Modern-Day Society

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
Plus, the strengths and weaknesses of each type of family How many different family structures are there, and is any one type considered "the norm"? We're here to tell you everything you need to know. "Family structure" describes the...
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How many different family structures are there, and is any one type considered “the norm”? We’re here to tell you everything you need to know. “Family structure” describes the relationships between people living in a household who consider each other family. There are several types of family structures, from the traditional nuclear family to nontraditional (but increasingly common) single-parent or same-sex families. Here, we’ll help you understand the potential pros and cons of each and what qualities make them special. Ready to learn more? Then read on!


Nuclear Family

  1. Nuclear families consist of two parents and at least one child.
    When you think of a traditional family structure—married parents and their children (either biological or adopted) in a family home—that’s a nuclear family. They’re also called “elementary” families and tend to be among the most common types—though numbers have started decreasing in recent years. The core idea behind nuclear families is that parents raise kids together under one roof.[1]
    • Strengths:
      • There are two parents to set good examples for the kids.
      • Joint salaries tend to make life more financially stable.
      • Home life is often more consistent for kids.
    • Weaknesses:
      • This family unit tends to share like-minded ideas and may struggle to resolve conflicts with extended family members who have differing opinions.
      • Living apart from extended relatives can weaken the family’s support system.
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Single-Parent Family

  1. Single-parent families involve one parent raising one or more children.
    The family unit often consists of a mother and her kids, a father and his kids, or a person and their kids, though they may also get support from extended family. Single-parent families have become increasingly common due to rising divorce rates and more kids being born out of wedlock. As outdated gender roles decline, more people feel comfortable being parents while single![2]
    • Strengths:
      • The parent and their kids often become especially close.
      • Kids tend to learn responsibility from a young age.
      • Both the parent and children tend to be very resilient.
    • Weaknesses:
      • It may be harder to make ends meet with only one income.
      • Childcare can be difficult for a parent working full-time.

Extended Family

  1. Extended families consist of multiple extended relatives living together.
    In an extended family, parents live with their kids and other relatives (related by either blood or marriage) under one roof, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents. Next to nuclear families, this structure is also considered fairly traditional. Families tend to do this so that they can raise their kids together and support one another along the way.[3]
    • Strengths:
      • These families emphasize values like respect, courtesy, and caring for the elderly.
      • The family has more social support among all the various relatives.
      • In an extended family, there are more people to help with chores.
    • Weaknesses:
      • If living space is limited, lack of privacy can be problematic.
      • Income can be tough to manage if the parents support several different relatives.
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Same-Sex Family

  1. Same-sex families simply have two parents of the same gender.
    A same-sex family structure is similar to the nuclear family type. However, kids are raised by same-gender parents who are typically married or in a committed partnership, with children either adopted or biologically related to one parent.[4] This family structure become more common after same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States in 2015, and LGBT rights gained more social acceptance.
    • Strengths:
      • There are two parents to set a good example for their kids.
      • Two salaries make it easier to afford childcare.
      • Despite concerns that same-sex families aren’t healthy for kids, research shows that kids of same-parents do as well (or better than) kids from nuclear families in terms of their well-being, development, education, and more.[5]
    • Weaknesses:
      • Much like nuclear families, excluding extended relatives can undermine the family support system.

Family Without Children

  1. Families without kids often consist of couples in committed relationships.
    Simply put, some couples either can’t have kids or choose not to have them—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a family. In fact, families without children are rising in number as more and more couples today decide they don’t ever want to have kids.[6] Rather, many childless families tend to focus on caring for pets or helping to care for their nieces and nephews.
    • Strengths:
      • Couples have more one-on-one time together.
      • Couples also have more disposable income without childcare expenses.
      • They have the freedom to travel and pursue different careers.
    • Weaknesses:
      • If infertility is an issue and the couple wants kids, being childless can be painful.
      • Couples may feel a little isolated when other friends or family start having kids.
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  1. Stepfamilies involve two separate families merging into one new unit.
    When divorced or widowed parents remarry someone new—sometimes with children of their own—the result is a blended stepfamily. While it can be tough to transition into a stepfamily structure, some children come to see their stepparents as close relatives or even parents; as they come together, stepfamilies must learn to work together and rely on one another.[7]
    • Strengths:
      • Children get to bond with their stepsiblings and stepparents.
      • Kids get to have two (or more) parental figures to look up to.
      • This family type also gets to rely on two incomes instead of one.
    • Weaknesses:
      • Parents and children may take time to adjust to their new family dynamic.
      • Parents may have problems disciplining one another's children.

Grandparent Family

  1. In grandparent families, grandparents care for kids instead of parents.
    Though considered fairly rare, research shows that grandparent families are actually becoming more common.[8] Grandparent families often form when parents of children can’t (or refuse to) take proper care of their kids and one or more of the children’s grandparents step up instead. In those cases, grandparents typically fulfill the role of parents in their grandchildren’s lives.
    • Strengths:
      • This kind of family prevents kids from entering the foster care system.
      • Kids get a stable life with two parental figures to look up to.
      • Grandparents have the chance to form a deeper bond with their grandkids.
    • Weaknesses:
      • Income may be an issue if the grandparents don’t work full-time jobs.
      • It may be tough for grandparents to care for kids as they get older.
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Polyamorous Family

  1. Polyamorous families include two or more parents raising kids together.
    This is a fairly new family structure, often seen as unconventional. Polyamory refers to committed relationships between two or more partners who are open to romantic connections with other people as well—and in poly families, those partners raise kids together. For example, a family that practices polyamory could have three fathers and a mother or two mothers and two fathers.[9]
    • Strengths:
      • Bigger families often enjoy greater stability.
      • There’s more income for childcare and living expenses.
      • There are more parents to share in the challenges and responsibilities of childcare.
    • Weaknesses:
      • There may be legal challenges to figure out (many regions have restrictions on listing parents for a child’s birth certificate).
      • Kids with polyamorous parents may have to deal with other people's judgment of their family structure.

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