As family structures have undergone major changes with the passage of time, the large well-knit families have given way to smaller nuclear units. In this article, let’s take a parallel notion on both the immediate family and the extended family to see which provides a better environment.
For the Romans, the Latin word familia from which the modern-day word family is derived had a broad term, in a Roman familia slaves were also included as they were considered a part of the household.
When you say ‘My Family’ what picture conjures in your mind? Your close family or one big happy household complete with various characterized individuals whom you love to call your own? Tough call isn’t it? The word family has different meanings. It could mean belonging to the one which you have created or the one that gives you identity, support, a sense of belonging like a community.
An individual can learn aplenty in both sets of families, be it immediate family where he/she learns to become independent; and from the extended family one can inculcate traditional values. Discriminating and favoring between one of the two family systems is difficult, but let’s take a look at the factors that make both of them equally important.
According to the recent 2010 U.S. census, the immediate family system is the most preferred family unit with approximately 70% of the children living in these type of family arrangement. It traditionally involves two married parents and their biological or adopted children living with them. It has become increasingly popular due to the financial stability it provides with both the parents earning well in the present economic system and being able to afford their own homes. Members could be linked with each other through blood relations, or share a common bond with the marriage of parents e.g. step-children and parents.
This family system inculcates the values of freedom and a sense of responsibility in the children as they are not dependent much on their parents. Also they have the freedom of expressing their views and opinions without being judged. Better healthcare and sufficient food stock contributes to the overall health of all the members in the family.
Today the face of this close-knit unit is changing diversely with same-sex parents raising biological or adopted children, single-parent homes, blended homes, or couple living without children.
Pros and Cons
▶ These type of families provide strength, stability and consistency to the household as both parents work and can provide all the luxuries of life for their children.
▶ The negative effect of these type of families can be the lack of time to spend with each other as the parents are busy working and they cannot provide the necessary attention to their children during their growing age.
Extended families include all the relatives like aunts, uncles, and cousins near or far belonging to the same family. It could be a complex, joint or a multi-generation family living under the same roof. The main feature of this family is that there are too many adults that may not be parents to the children in the family but act as guardians in inculcating values and traditions to them. There might also exist a patriarch or matriarch in the family who acts the supreme head of the family, and their decisions are well-respected by all the members.
In some cultures, it is considered as inappropriate to leave the parents’ house and start a new family, the children settle with their parents. Moreso with the cases of divorce rising, there are instances where the single parent starts living with their respective parents.
Pros and Cons
▶ These type of families enjoy shared responsibilities, cultures, financial burden, and values. They also provide a sound role model system for the younger generation.
▶ Conflicts may arise among the members as to who is the authoritative figure. Also opinions may vary regarding situations and ways to solve a problem.
As the saying goes, “Family is what you make it.” Whether made of blood relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of these, your family can offer you the support you need to thrive.