Families in North America Essay

Submitted By EurekaIvegotit
Words: 1023
Pages: 5

Statistics Canada describes “family” as a couple (married or common -law) with or without a child, or a lone parent of a minimum of one child. This contrasts with The Vanier Institute of the Family, defining it as a combination of more than two people who are bound together over time by mutual consent, birth, or adoption/placement. I agree with the latter of the two, where in my perspective a family consists of members who share nurturance, and the responsibilities of caring for each member of the unit. Sociologists and anthropologists have a different take on defining the family structure, as well as their characteristics. Sociologist George Murdock identifies the family by their functional characteristics, a group of people who share residence, financial responsibilities and reproduce. Today, sociologists acknowledge the diversity of families, such as single-parent families, childless couples and homosexual couples with children. Sociologist Margaret Eichler recognizes families who no longer cohabitate, however maintain their relationships. Anthropologists understand the structures of family units will vary depending on cultures and values. Traditionally, family was defined by blood relation and cohabitation, however in today’s contemporary society the family unit is being appreciated in ways separate from genetic relation or distance. Many social scientists feel families follow similar, predictable life cycles which explain the growth and changes the unit will bear. There are 6 stages in the cycle consisting of: Young Single, New Couple, Young Family, Adolescent children, Launching, and finally Family in later life. Stage one describes the individual seeking independence, as well as the search for a life long partner. Once the individual has found a partner, they progress to stage 2, New couple, where communication is vital for beginning to plan for their future, and vital to planning for parenthood. The couple must each maintain their independent livelihood. In stage 3, as a Young Family, each partner has become a parent, ensuring they are prepared for their child by learning all parenting skills. The baby must become the priority for each partner. As the couple matures into middle age, they reach stage 4, Adolescent children. The couple must accept their teen’s identity, acting as a guide of process to their development. Launching describes the children moving out to begin their independent lives, in search of starting their own family. The couple must adapt to living on their own once again. In stage 6, the couple becomes grandparents; it becomes their responsibility to ensure the family relationship is maintained, while maintaining their own health and wellness. This cycle rules the couple cannot reach the next stage by skipping steps, as well as the responsibilities for each stage must be met for each along with the next stage. There are many influences on decision making regarding childbearing. The industrial revolution is a factor in history that has made an impact on families; traditionally, larger family units were ideal due to the need for more hands in the labour force, as well as financial support from family members, however with the factor of industrialization/urbanization, the need for more hands to compensate for labour intensive jobs were unnecessary, causing larger families to be financial burdens. Functionalists explain the family as the primary source of socialization, providing each member with economic, physical and emotional support; holding the opinion that traditional family structures are more successful than contemporary structures. For some, the family unit is a means to developing identities, interacting and interpreting one another’s behaviours. In deciding to bear children, feminists argue the presence of children interfere with pursuing individual goals and gaining independence, such as career and educational goals. The presence of technology has changed the world…