Understanding Families

Chapter 2, Section 1: Understanding Families

Today, we started by taking a look at the various types of families. Your textbook The Developing Child identifies 4 different types: nuclear, extended, single-parent and blended families. But today’s society really has so many different types of families.

No one type of family is more “correct” than another. So long as people are in a mentally/emotionally healthy/supportive, caring family, they are likely in a family that is good for them. Instead of sticking with the 4 categories in the textbook we explored the web and found the following:

Different Types of Families: A Portrait Gallery

  • Nuclear Families: Approximately half of all families with youngsters under age 18 are composed of two biological parents and their children.
  • Single-Parent Families: Single-parent families make up 27 percent of households with children under age 18.
  • Cross-Generational Families: Approximately 670,000 families with children under age 18 have a family member age 65 or older living with them. Roughly 2.5 million children under age 18 live with one or both parents in their grandparents’ home.
  • Adoptive/Foster Families: Approximately 120,000 children are adopted each year. 3 children per 1,000 live in out-of-home foster care.
  • Never-Married Families: About 1.5 million unmarried couples have at least one child under age 15.
  • Blended Families: About 20 percent of children in two-parent households live in blended families.
  • Grandparents as Parents: Approximately 1.3 million children under age 18 live with their grandparents.
  • Same-Sex Parent Families: Some 2 million children have parents who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/types-of-families/Pages/Different-Types-of-Familes-A-Portrait-Gallery.aspx

Research Note: When checking at the bottom of the web page we can see that this information is adapted from Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics). Remember when you are doing research online to scroll to the bottom of your webpage source to see if they’ve identified other sources you should explore.

When talking about families, it’s also important to honour how each family defines itself. For example, if a couple in a long-term, committed relationship but not married yet refer to themselves as “husband and wife” you should too. Likewise, another couple might also be in a similar relationship and want to refer to one another as “girlfriend and boyfriend”, again, you should too.

The Family Life Cycle is nicely explained in the text The Developing Child, but we also took a look at it in a visual sense. Families may be in more than one stage at a time, but for the sake of your assignments in this chapter, you will be selecting the stage in the textbook which best matches the question/descriptor.

family lifecycle

Image source: http://www.talkitover.in/

For more information, you can refer to the HealthLinkBC website. As an overview they say:

What is a family life cycle?

The emotional and intellectual stages you pass through from childhood to your retirement years as a member of a family are called the family life cycle. In each stage, you face challenges in your family life that allow you to build or gain new skills. Gaining these skills helps you work through the changes that nearly every family goes through.

Not everyone passes through these stages smoothly. Situations such as severe illness, financial problems, or the death of a loved one can have an effect on how well you pass through the stages. Fortunately, if you miss skills in one stage, you can learn them in later stages.

The stages of the family life cycle [according to HealthLinkBC] are:

  • Independence.
  • Coupling or marriage.
  • Parenting: babies through adolescents.
  • Launching adult children.
  • Retirement or senior years.

Source: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthtopics/content.asp?hwid=ty6171

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