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Item 2B and elsewher

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Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family is no longer the norm. (24 marks) A nuclear family is a common type of family that consists of two parent living with their biological children (immediate family), this type of family is considered the norm. An example of a nuclear family is ‘The Simpsons’. Leach calls this the ‘cereal packet’ family which is shown as the perfect family, there’s a lot of respect, care and value for each other. Although this is seen as the norm, society today is heading towards a more diverse variety of family structures. According to Office for National Statistics, research has shown that in 1996 there were 5,223 nuclear families and in 2012 the number of nuclear families has decreased to 4,610 families. It could be argued that the nuclear family is longer the norm because statistics even support this. One particular reason for this would be that the divorce rate has increased, research shows that now 40% of marriages now end in divorce. This would then leaned to lone-parent (single) families and reconstituted families.

In the 1940s women were seen as housewives and mothers that didn’t have any other life, having an education was simply out of the question. Whereas women today go into much further education as men which therefore gives them a much higher status and independence. This may be the reason for why divorce rates have increased rapidly. The main reason for why women used to get married was to reproduce as they couldn’t do anything else other than that. Women had no financial support for which they had to rely on their husbands. In today’s society women don’t need any financial support as they are independent and self-reliant. Feminist’s state that they are exploited within the family, they are taken advantage of. They have to do all the housework, cooking and serve the men which oppress he women.

However there are many advantages of a nuclear family such as; financial stability for the household, better upbringing for the children from both parents, more stable, financial and emotional support- they work together and are more resilient. On the other hand there also advantages such as; the family becomes isolated from their extended families (although this is not always the case), if both parent are working they may need to look for a child-minder to take care of their child which requires more money, grandparents, aunts and uncles should have a place within the family, but a nuclear family does not create one for them. The most important disadvantage is that family members, mainly mothers tend to burn out from attempting to meet everyone’s needs alone. The mother is the cook, maid babysitter and in some families the money maker. Stress, depression, anxiety or other problems can all be a results of a nuclear family burnout.

Many of the reasons for changing patterns of marriage are that attitudes to marriage has changed. It is now a widespread belief that it’s more important for the individuals to be able to choose the type of relationship they want because they are the ones who are going to take it further, not their legal status. It is now becoming acceptable for people to have children outside of marriage, remain single and have a cohabitation relationship. Another major reason for people not getting married is that people fear divorce. They may have had bad experiences or seen their parent’s relationship end in a divorce because of which they might have been put off. There has been a big rise in cohabitation, this is when an unmarried are living together and are in a sexual relationship. Cohabitation is one of the fastest growing family type in the UK; there are over 2 million cohabiting couples in Britain. Reconstituted (stepfamilies) families is a family that consists of divorced couples that have now remarried. Again, reconstituted families now have also taken over nuclear families because the parents that have divorced then find another partner and get married again. This comes under its own name of a stepfamily because it doesn’t consist of a normal mother, father and biological children family.

The other diverse types of families that the society now opts for are; extended family, same sex/gay family, polyandry family, communal family, symmetrical family and single-parent family. Statistics show that same sex families in 1996 was very rare, in total there was only 16 families as such, on the other hand, in 2012 it is shown that there has been an increase in this of 69 families. A same sex/gay family is a family similar to a nuclear family but instead if the parents of being a man and women, they are the same sex. In a same sex family people can become parents through various means including current or former relationships, co-parenting, adoption, donor insemination and surrogacy. The strength of this family type would be
that both partners describe their relationships as equal which means they share the housework and divide childcare equally. The partners both give equal importance to each other’s careers and also they appreciate their child much more than normal parents would because they’ve had to face many difficulties in order to get the child. Such families are not accepted by a majority of people within the society because it is seen as not normal. The society believes that the purpose of marriage is to reproduce and with such a family this is not possible in natural ways.

One of the main drawbacks of this diverse family is that the society does not agree with this and this is because it is not seen as the traditional norm. Other drawbacks may also include that the child won’t find it normal and also get bullied in school by other students. An extended family is a family that extends past the nuclear family to include other relatives such as aunts, uncles and grandparents. An extended family is also known as a complex family, joint family or multi-generational family. This type of family unit has multiple generations and additional relatives all living in the same household, they all take on responsibilities towards the household. The key characteristics of extended families is that there are multiple adults in the family that are not parents of the children but still have parent-like roles and share in the responsibilities of proving for the family (financially). There are many advantages of an extended family which are; greater security for feel members to feel connected, more financial support with multiple working adults, increased sharing of cultural and cross-general family values, more role models for younger family members, prevents family members from becoming isolated, greater emotional support. It also helps the younger members of the family understand the importance of a family, whereas in a nuclear family the children wouldn’t know the importance of uncles, aunts and grandparents, they would only that their parents are very important people in their lives and that they are their only well-wishers.

One of the most important advantage is that the children get a much better upbringing and values instilled in them because there isn’t just one or two individuals that are bringing them up, but there are several members of the family that are contributing towards this. On the other hand, not every family is perfect they all have some weakness or the other, for example, there are lots of disagreements amongst the family members which can affect the children’s upbringing, there’s no privacy, it can become very difficult compromise all the time., there is a lack place for normal living, envy or jealousy will tend to develop, you may not get along with everyone, sharing other family problems can become burdensome. Also it can become very overcrowding if you have a small house, some family members cab back out in the duties towards the family/household that can then cause conflict and the younger members of the family tend to adopt the bad habits of the older family members such as smoking and drinking. Extended families are mainly common in Asian families as its part of their culture to stay together as one big family. A polyandry family is when a women has more than one husband. Polygyny is when the male has multiple wives which is more common. Polyandry is often designed to help structure the marriage so it’s built upon an entire family’s wealth and resources.

The drawbacks of a polyandry are as follows; consent is essential, jealousy may develop, not a normal way of living (nuclear family), can confuse the children as to who’s their parents and siblings, there’s a chance of sexually transmitted diseases spreading. Although there are also many advantages for this most diverse family, creates economic power (single mortgage, multiple breadwinners), death of a parents is less likely to results in poverty or destitution for the remaining family members, financial and emotional support, more personal time available to all family member without depriving children of attention, household tasks are shared, and potentially more enjoyable sex life without the risk of venereal disease. Symmetrical family is a family that shares male and female roles. For example a women will go to work just like the man will, similarly the man will take care of his kids and all the household tasks just like the women will. It’s basically sharing household jobs fairly, whether you are male or female. Young and Wilmotts (1973 study shows that symmetrical families are more common among younger couples. This type of family is also known as a joint conjugal roles, where the couple shares tasks such as housework, childcare and spend their leisure time together. And advantages of a symmetrical family is that it makes the housework easier so the men are encouraged to do more, bringing second wages into the home raises the family standards of living. Most importantly the children get equal time from their parents and not just attention from the mother.

Communal family means two or more groups of families that live together and share the facilities in some form of society. It is a form of communal living forum. Some of these financial facilities come together for economic reasons while others are due to similar beliefs and culture. Families that come together for economic issues are able to save more money during difficult financial times. The advantages are that you save a lot of money, you get more social, you interact more with the community and learn to compromise and also you can practise your religion more openly. However the drawbacks are that conflict can be caused, it can be hard to comprise all the time, not everyone may get along etc. Single-parent or lone parent families are families with children headed by a parent who is widowed or divorced and not remarried, or by a parent who has never married.

The drawbacks of such a family are; lower levels of educational achievement for the children because they aren’t getting enough attention, the children are likely to become teen parent and lose trust in marriage because they haven’t got a good impression on marriage. They may think that every marriage result in divorce. The children tend to have a ot more conflict with their parents, they might need help for emotional support (especially the parent) and it can be financially challenging. Although, there also some advantages such as if the parents were arguing all the time then it’s better to divorce rather that keep on arguing with is impacting the children, and if the father or mother was a bad role model for the kids it’s better to keep their distance in order to prevent them from getting influenced by them.

In summary, it can be argued be argued that the nuclear family is no longer the norm due to a number of reasons and one of the main reasons are that there have been a lot of new diverse families that have been introduced to the society as acceptable, without taking into consideration of religious beliefs and views. However Somerville (2000) is also correct because not everyone is opting for the new options, a lot of people still want to live a ‘normal’ life which consists of having a nuclear family. Although due to certain situations or circumstances they are compelled to get divorced.

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