Contemporary Changes in Families and their Structure


The definition and notion of family and its structure have taken different definitions over the past years from the traditional definitions of the current contemporary approaches. Many scholars from the past have considered a family as the basic unit of society that comprises of a father, mother and a child or children. Such an approach has taken drastic changes as most societies have come up with other forms that do not comprise of the three characters. The ideology to the definition has changed based on the need of forming relations that would facilitate unity and correlations among persons in the same society for the benefit of continuous existence of man. The emergence of new traits in the society has further added to the changes in definitions to the meaning of a family. As per some of the surveys conducted, a family may entail other factors such as the financial capability of a person, the reason for forming the family and the need for a family.  


Contemporary Families and Structures

In the current situation, different families have emerged. These would range from single parent families, business families and social families as compared to the traditional approach mentioned above. Single parent families have become common in the country and on the global scene. The reasons for such vary depending on the persons that are in such setups either by choice or forced circumstances. Marriage divorces, separations and deceased of partners have been the major contributions to such incidences. Here, a given couple after marriage end up separating or divorcing when a given marriage does not work out to their expectations. A father or mother remains with the custody of the child as per the outcome of court proceedings. Either party is forced to remain with the child as a single parent when he or she does not get into another marriage union. Such an approach will completely change the definition of a family as per the traditional understating. The mother or father would be forced to remain with the child and form a different structure of family comprising of a father or mother and a child or children. The same can be witnessed where one of the couples die. The other would be forced to move on and keep the family generation going. The other challenge that brings another structure to the family is when a divorced, widow or widower gets involved in a new relationship. Research has shown that single parents end up engaging in a new relationship that includes a new member to the earlier family left behind. When a man or woman gets a boyfriend or girlfriend but the father or mother of the kids is still alive, it challenges the past notions put on family definitions. In essence, the father or mother is still around but the other former couple has a new relationship. The children although visit their biological parents, but the home has a new member, who they have to be with every day. 

Business families have also emerged across the board. Here, partners marry or even come together to form a family of business dynasties. This type of family was mostly witnessed in the Indian families, but the current society is going through such measures. Such a contemporary approach has challenged the tradition of how families are formed. Arranged marriages are taking over love marriages to facilitate financial stability of given family generations. In essence, the economic status of a person can be persuasive enough to facilitate marriage unions to from families. The approach though disturbing from a moral perspective leads to the new structure of family in the contemporary sense. The society, in general, is accepting any form of family that ensure people co-exist out of their reasons rather than following the conventional way of continuing a generation or dynasty. 

Theoretical Perspective as per Benokraitis Nijole V

As per Benokraitis, the definition and meaning of family have changed considerately based on the contemporary society due to certain factors involved. The modern meaning has taken another connotation from the approach of the provisions and demands of persons. In essence, the tradition meaning understood the family from a patriarchal perspective where the father was the head of the family, the mother and children becoming a subordinate of him in whatever approach he takes them they follow. Such an understanding has taken another meaning depending on the factor that affect the society. By then, women position was in the house and especially in the kitchen cooking and cleaning the house. Currently, women have been empowered through education and can support their affairs with no assistance from men. The dependency level has reduced to the extent that that some women are single mothers, financially stable and can take care of both their nuclear and extended families. As such the meaning of a family has taken another step from the conventional way.  The author of his works has elaborated the types of family structures that emerging to assist with the changes of generations. The aspect in not only seen locally, nationally or regionally but also globally. 

Some families are formed not for the reason of having children, but to enjoy the companion of each other. Can we say such couples are not a family? Furthermore, other couples cannot get children and opt to adopt some from children home. What happens to such scenarios? The two examples will totally lose meaning if the traditional approach is given to family definition in the society from a strict perspective. The changes in structure are further affected by the financial status of individuals in their society backgrounds. In the past, the rich would marry the rich and the same applied to those who were considered poor. In the new generation of family unions, we find that there is a mixture of family structures although the tradition approach is still practiced across other societies. The question remains, what structures of families would those entail? Benokraitis Nijole has insisted that individuals have choices to make in their respective setups to ensure they form the family structures best fit for them. The changes in the world have encouraged different reasons as to why people unit to create families. Whether it is arranged marriage, love marriage, finances or life choices that make people come together. The challenge to the structure would depend on the approach given by a specific society’s ideology. 

The views by Benokraitis Nijole are by the earlier perspective as to the changes in the structure of family between the past traditional family definition and the contemporary family understanding. They both agree that people from families from a different point of view. Further, the two texts agree that the society has changed from the traditional approach of father, mother and children to a new understanding where either can be absent to form a family. The perspectives create a different approach to the meaning of the family in that changes must take place from the past generations to adapt to the demands of the modern family setups. The two viewpoints would be essential in the understanding of the contemporary families and their structures.

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