In today’s world, cultures and traditions have changed and the modern individual is more educated and independent. As centuries passed by, the role of the family has also changed and with the factors such as globalization and everyday routine to implicate in our lives, this role has lost its important value. The traditional societies that use to be in the past are now over and the modern ones have taken their position. People nowadays are so busy in order to work and earn money that they cannot take the same care of their families as they use to do over the past decades.
As technology and the way of life change, families evolve into something new into the society. The last century men use to be the breadwinners in the house and provide everything in it. On the other hand, women were supposed to stay at home and take care of their children and husband. In the 21th century the role of the women also has changed, as they have more rights to work and vote. Moreover, modern business women depend on their selves and not on their husbands as they use to. As a result if they are not happy with their marriage, they are able to pay for their divorces.
However, there are different types of families such as the nuclear, the extended, the reconstituted and the single parent which will be discussed in this paper. (Hakim, 2003) First, the classic type that use to exist during the past centuries and mostly in the 1950s and 60s was the nuclear family. That means that the family is consisted by the married couple and their own or adopted children. This kind of family is found in almost all societies as it is the most popular. However, there are three different types of married nuclear families provisional on the working status of the parents.
The first one considers the man to work and to be the ‘breadwinner’ of the household, while the woman stays at home and take care of the children. In the second type of married nuclear family, the woman works outside the home and the man cares for the children and the house. In the third and final type of nuclear family, both parents work in order to financially enhance the home. Moreover, another type of a family is the extended. An extended family is consisted of two or more adults from different generations of a family, who share a household.
This kind of family has more members than the parents and children, so it may include also cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The extended family may live together for many reasons, help raise children, support for an ill relative, or help with financial problems. Sometimes children are raised by their grandparents when their biological parents have died or no longer can take care of them. Also, many grandparents take some primary responsibility for child care, particularly when both parents work. Extended families can be found in different societies all over the world.
For this type of families there are three different kinds as well, which are divided into the first, second and third generations. Nevertheless, it is more likely for a nuclear family to become an extended family than any other family type. An example is that before the industrial revolution, families were really close knit in terms of community duties to relatives and were extended; this is even rarer in a developed nation such as Britain. On the other hand in the modern societies of the 21st century, the reconstituted family has appeared.
A reconstituted family means the marriage of two adults that already have children from a previous marriage. The adults together with their children will all live together as one family. Reconstituted families might have problems as children might not be happy with another person replacing one of their parents. Moreover, children in the new family come from different backgrounds, lifestyles and were raised differently so this might cause many conflicts in the family, which can also become worse if the new couple will have a new child.
Stress is going to take place in the house, and the new couple might not be happy with this entire situation and have difficulties in controlling the house, so further problems are going to occur. A single parent family is a family that consists of only one parent either the mother or the father together with the children. After divorce or death of a parent, a single parent family can be formed. It is going to be very difficult for the single parent, as they have to take care of not only for all their children’s responsibilities but also of the house, as they have to get the money and provide everything.
They are going to feel stressed and depressed all of the time because of the loads of work they have as they can’t handle it all. As for the children they are not going to be raised in the same way of a normal family, as it is of course totally different when the children have both their parents in the house. Especially after a divorce many changes are going to take place in the attitudes and the behaviours of children. Children might become aggressive, anti-social, have problems in school and their daily lives, and if the children were really affected they might have personal problems and depression which may need the help of an expert.
On the other hand, an important question that must be answered is how the new family trends that have appeared in the society can affect the contemporary family? For example, the gay marriage is a social issue that shown up in the 21st century, as it has several results to the modern societies. Nowadays, the laws have changed and couples coming from the same sex or social gender can live together and marry legally, in countries such as in the United Kingdom, in some parts of the United States, Belgium and many others. This phenomenon is not everywhere acceptable from all the societies though.
Moreover, this new family trend was not even acceptable and popular in the old days, but today that the way of thinking about life has changed, people are free to take their choices and not be restricted by certain laws. At examples like these, gay couples share their property and can adopt kids after wedding. As a result for the children, growing up into an environment like this, they may face many difficulties through their lives, as it is not normal to rise in a family that is consisted by parents of the same gender.
There is also a possibility for those children that may not be accepted from the society to interact in. It is well known that in nowadays there is a cohabitation which means that a couple can live together in a sexual relationship without being legally married. This is becoming more and more acceptable in industrial countries. This leads in a decrease of the marriage rates, as the couples prefer to live happily together in the same household, but they still have their freedom. Furthermore, this is becoming widespread in societies and some people decide to stay together without getting married.
In many cultures an individual can be married to two or more spouses at the same time. This can cause many problems within the household and stress. As people prefer individualism and are becoming more independent, they are getting their own money and want to enjoy life, take care of themselves and look for personal happiness. Polygamy is also well known mainly in Arab countries, when a man in Islam can marry four women at the same time. Concluding, however people prefer to stay single for a longer time and leave the marriage and make children for a later stage in their lives.
As the present structure of the average family is changing nowadays, mothers start to work now outside the house and leave their children most of the time alone at home. (Population Reference Bureau, 2003) As a consequence, this leads men to increase more their participation in the family raise of children. Among other changes, women have brought balance in the families as they earn their own money and those help financial their household. However, this leads both spouses to have more flexibility in choosing careers and way of life.
The family’s definition of today comparing in the past is far from similar. The families have changed dramatically through the last 50 years. As there are not similarities anymore with the ‘traditional’ and old family, which had rules and were stricter and closer in the sense of a relationship. Although some families today are more isolated from each members and they don’t have rules to follow, but depending on the mentality of each family and home life they still may have some similarities.
Families in the 21st century do not seem to spend the same amount of time as they use to do. The parents both have jobs and tend not to be at home for the children after school most of the time. This creates more freedom especially for the children as they spend a lot of time alone at home. This kind of independence gives the chance to these kids to make mistakes on their own without being warned about them. Also, this occurs when a boss type figure is missing and children cannot lead between right and wrong.
A common example of how generations have changed is the family dinner, which uses to be a major tradition. Nowadays this kind of ritual has changed and families don’t eat together as they normally were doing. Examples such as this confirm the weakness in the modern societies, and once again job affects this aspect of the contemporary family. All in all, the importance of the families during the life of an individual is really important since the beginning of modern times.
The role of the family in a society is depending also on the different cultures all over the world and their social impact. As Paul Taylor (1974) mentioned, “all these issues show how family life in the 21st century has radically changed”. After examinations of the sociological histories through the years of areas like Europe, America and Asia, there have been some examples that provide the durability of the term of the family. Families such as the nuclear ones have been vital for societies like Third World where the households are really small and based on strict monogamous marriage.