The Family - Maxicours

The Family


Découvrir un aspect de la notion « Vivre entre générations »

Points clés
  • Il existe 6 types de familles (nucléaire, étendue, à enfant unique, sans enfant, monoparentale et reconstituée).
  • En 60 ans, la place de la femme a évolué sur le marché du travail. Auparavant mères au foyer, les femmes sont maintenant diplômées et participent au financièrement de la famille, ce qui engendre à un changement dans le cadre familial.
  • L’augmentation du nombre de divorces ces dernières années changent radicalement la famille de type nucléaire. Cet accroissement est dû à l’allongement de la vie, à la baisse du poids de la religion dans la société, etc.
  • La relation entre parents et enfants a également fortement changé. Les deux parents participent à l’éducation et le rapport entre eux est passé de l’autoritarisme à la complicité.
1. The different types of families

Unlike in the past when there was one or two types of families, the latter have multiplied. It was then quite simple to define the family unit. People got married, had children and lived together until the end of their lives. It is no longer the case. Indeed, nowadays we can count up to six types of families.

a. The nuclear family

In the nuclear family, parents and children live together. Either one parent works or both parents work. It is the most common type of family in North America.

b. The extended family

In an extended family, not only parents and children live under the same roof but also grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. Most of these families can be found in Southern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

c. Single child families

In a single child family, the parents have chosen to have only one child. Even though many people think that the child is spoilt, no study confirms this idea.

d. Childless families

For different reasons some couples choose not to have any children at all, either because they want to have more free time or because of financial reasons. Others do not want to have a baby, because they think their child will grow in a “bad” world, a world where wars, diseases and corruption predominate. They may also tell you that there are too many inhabitants on our planet. The reasons are so numerous…

e. Single parent families

Because of the increasing number of divorces or because of premature death, some children do not have two parents, but only one.

f. Blended or reconstituted family

Again, because of divorces which become more and more frequent, parents remarry (or decide to live together without being married) and reconstitute a family.
This type of family has advantages and drawbacks: the children have two families instead of one, so they can have more presents at Christmas or on their birthday for instance, but they can find it difficult to adapt to a new situation.
This kind of situation can be hard for the parents too, especially if they do not have custody of their children or if they see them too occasionally.

2. How and why the family has changed in the past 60 years
a. Women’s work

In the 1960s mothers had children at a younger age than today. The difference between a mother and her first child was on average 25 years. Now, they keep studying later, because the more and higher diplomas they get, better the job is, and most of the time they do not have a baby before they are 30.

Contrary to their grandmothers who stayed at home and raised their children, women want to follow the tracks of their mothers who wanted to work and show that they could be as able as men in every sector of the economy. They wished their statute would change and they needed recognition from the men’s community. They had to fight hard for it and even though some inequalities still exist (wages, positions, etc.) we can say that their condition has improved.
This change of mentality is normal. Why should they stay at home if they want to work? Why should they not be as independent as their husband? It is all the more normal as life is getting more and more expensive. So two salaries instead of one is not to be neglected.

b. The democratisation of divorce

What has changed too is that today people dare to divorce if things go wrong between them. Society has changed to such an extent that relations between people have evolved, too. And this favours separations.
People live longer, do not work for the same company as long as they used to, so they get more opportunities to meet people than in the past. They do not feel concerned with religious observances anymore, they are aware that a lot of marriages will end up in divorces… In the past, couples stayed together because it was badly perceived by one’s family or friends to separate from one’s spouse. Was it better or worse?

c. The evolution of parent-child relationships

Well, it is difficult to judge whether the situation is better or worse today, but what we can say is that it is different. Look at the relations between parents and children nowadays. They have improved a lot.
The parents are closer to their children than they used to be. They play or spend more time with them, and parents and children, living together or not, often share the same hobbies.

If considerable changes have occurred in the last 60 years as far as family life is concerned, our societies (work, relations between people, private and public life, etc.) have been modified, too. Both are closely linked, aren’t they?

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