The concept of what a family is has different interpretations depending on the field of application, the historical stage and many other factors. Such a cell of society has very specific features and functions, has a life cycle, resources and values.
Family — what is it?
Different scientific and public spheres interpret the definition of a family in somewhat different ways:
- In sociology, the concept means the union of several people related by blood or marriage. That is, a married couple without children and several generations: grandparents, their children and grandchildren are all families.
- In jurisprudence, a family is understood as individuals living together who are officially married.
- A different approach to understanding the cell of society in psychology. According to many experts, only a group of people connected by personal relationships, having common interests, traditions and values can be called a family.
Of all the above definitions of what a family is, certain signs of this social institution can be distinguished:
- The presence of officially legalized relations in the registry office. That is, the very notorious stamp in the passport is considered the basis of legal relations between partners, it gives certain social guarantees.
- The characterization of a family is unthinkable without living together and running a common household.
- Family relationships involve the acquisition of property and the joint accumulation of capital. The material basis is considered the basis of any full-fledged unit of society.
- Having an intimate relationship. A man and a woman enter into an alliance not only for the sake of material benefits, but also because of mutual sympathy and sexual attraction to each other.
- The unity of global views on life and interests. Spouses can have a common vision of their future, but be addicted to both joint and individual hobbies.
- A prosperous family is always a small society of support for its members, care for all household members in any life’s adversity.
What is a family for?
Each person can formulate their opinion in different ways regarding the need for marriage and the birth of children. However, scientists rank among the main functions of the family:
- reproductive. In the vast majority of societies and religions, such an institution is necessary for the continuation of the human race.
- educational. Husband and wife not only reproduce children, but also educate them. That is, they instill spiritual values, pass on accumulated life experience, socially adapt and much more.
- business or economic. Thanks to joint work and a clear distribution of responsibilities, spouses provide themselves and their offspring with a certain level of well-being.
- communicative. This function is related to people’s need for communication, emotional acceptance and empathy.
- Traditional. That is, certain traditions and customs, the continuity of generations and the history of the family are formed and transmitted in the family.
It is generally accepted that the family is a complex social organization that has a certain structure. The traditional family consists of:
- The so-called core, which includes spouses and their children.
- The cell of society can also include other individuals with related roots: grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others.
The composition of the family includes two important parameters:
- Connection or degree of psychological intimacy. The microclimate in relationships and the level of success of each individual depends on its quality.
- Hierarchy, or type of relationship by type of domination. There are family unions based on inequality: a man or a woman is considered the main one. In modern families, equality is increasingly common not only between spouses, but also in their relationships with children.
Family life cycle
In demography, family relationships are viewed through the prism of the life cycle or the so-called stages of parenthood:
- Spouses are at the stage of pre-parenthood from the moment of the conclusion of the official marriage union and until the birth of the first child.
- Reproductive stage or time interval between the birth of the first and last child.
- socialization stage. It may be related to reproductive, because it lasts from the moment of the birth of the first child until the separation of the last child from the family. Often such a moment is the conclusion of their own marriage unions by children.
- Ancestry or the period of raising grandchildren.
In modern society, types of families can be classified according to a number of criteria. By the number of partners there are:
- monogamous unions consisting of two partners of different sexes. It is worth noting that in some states, same-sex unions are also recognized at the legislative level.
- polygamousin which several men or women live together. Vivid examples are “Swedish” families or oriental harems.
It is possible to typologize the concept of what a family is by the number of individuals living together on:
- Simple. In such unions, parents and children live together.
- Nuclear, or cells of society in which the common economy is run by several generations: grandparents, parents, their children. Often such societies are called clans.
By the number of children there are:
- childless unions;
- small children, raising 1–2 children;
- large, in which they grow from 3 children.
According to the form of management, there are:
- Patriarchalwhere the male is the dominant
- matriarchal with a woman leader.
- Democraticin which each member has the right to vote and the right to make decisions.
According to the psychological climate, all cells of society can be divided into:
- prosperous, with a healthy microclimate;
In modern society, family relationships can take various forms of expression:
- Civil marriageor the traditional recognition by the state of a new cell of society in the registry office with the appropriate mark in the passport.
- religious marriagesuch as a wedding. In some states, the religious rites of the union of a man and a woman are recognized as official, while in others they are the voluntary will of the newlyweds.
There are also so-called alternative forms of family relations:
- Cohabitationin which a man and a woman live together, decide to have children, but without official registration of relations in state bodies.
- Incomplete familieswith only one parent. Formed after a divorce, the death of one of the partners, the birth of children out of wedlock.
- Mixed, or consolidated. Such a union is formed between a man and a woman who have children from previous marriages.
- Same-sex families. There is a lot of controversy around such unions around the world regarding their legalization and the moral side of the issue.
It has already been mentioned above that the concept of what the institution of the family is, necessarily includes material goods and values, on the basis of which marriage and the joint upbringing of children by spouses are built. All the wealth that the family’s property consists of can be divided into:
- Financial resources. These are cash (salaries and benefits, for example) and funds in bank accounts, deposits, stocks and bonds.
- material well-beingconsisting of real estate, cars, household appliances, jewelry, works of art and much more.
- Human Resources. Active members work, and younger individuals provide them with all possible assistance, for example, in housekeeping.
- Informational. This type of resource is valuable in that each work, for example, is performed according to a certain algorithm that adults teach their children.
In the understanding of each family for a person is a small world with a certain way of life, traditions and values, with the help of which this system is formed, developed and functions. There are so-called basic values that are inherent in most families around the world. These include:
- Love and understanding between spouses. Trust and loyalty of men and women.
- Kindness and mutual respect within a small family team between all its members.
In addition, the concept of what a close-knit family can include one of two types of values:
- Traditionalwhich include large families and a patriarchal way of life, a large number of customs, and so on.
- Modern. In such cells of society, partners build a career on an equal footing, strive to have children later and conclude a marriage contract in case of property disputes.
Responsibilities of family members
The concept of what a successful family is without fail includes a clear distribution of responsibilities between all its members. The psychological situation in the house and the presence of family comfort depend on this. Psychologists recommend:
- Clearly stipulate and delimit the range of tasks for all family members. At the same time, the duties of children in the family should be feasible for their age. For example, a first grader might take out the trash, while a high schooler might cook dinner or go to the grocery store.
- Distribute responsibilities appropriately. Often, women strive to do as much as possible on their own, from which they get very tired and drive themselves into depression and neuroses.
- Controversial issues are resolved openly. For example, if no one likes or wants to wash dishes, then you should set a queue or buy a dishwasher. An acceptable option in the dialogue can always be found.
Features of the modern family
According to research by psychologists and sociologists, the modern family differs significantly from previous prototypes in that:
- Young people tend to marry later or even refuse to enter into a formal union.
- Spouses are in no hurry to have children, from which the age of the birth of the first child in women is rapidly increasing.
- Newlyweds increasingly do not want to live with their parents, and by all means acquire their own housing.
- In modern marriage unions, there is an interest in their roots. Young people are increasingly compiling family trees, leading the history of the family, and so on.
In the scientific community, family psychology is considered a separate complex discipline with its own nuances and characteristics. At the same time, the rules of each individual cell of society are an important part of the work of family psychologists. To be successful, they must:
- Speak clearly between all members of the family.
- Consider the interests and needs of the majority.
- Apply regularly and regularly.
- Have a certain margin of flexibility in case new conditions and circumstances arise.
The modern family union has both problems similar to previous models, as well as a number of new ones. These may include:
- The conclusion of an alliance without love and mutual respect.
- Abuse of one or more partners with alcohol, addiction to drugs or gambling.
- Differences in interests and worldviews.
- Lack of material resources.
- Difficulties in organizing everyday life and determining common global goals.
- Lack of understanding with older relatives.