Princess Diana called family ‘the most important thing in the world’.
Alex Haley, the author of the epic novel’ Roots’ said, ‘Family is link to our past, bridge to our future.’
Family means different things to different people. Throughout human history the concept of family has existed. The composition of the family has varied from culture to culture, but in all cultures it is a dynamic concept, evolving slowly over time.
FACT 1: The term family can be defined in various ways. A family could be a basic social unit consisting of parents and children, considered as a group, whether they live together or not. It could be a group of persons living together as a household under one head. This includes parents, children, other dependents and servants.
FACT 2: A family can also be defined as one or more adults along with the children they care for. Alternately family is a group of people related by blood, regardless of where they live. This would include uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, parents and children.
FACT 3: Patriarchy is the most widely distributed form of family in the world. It implies male dominance over women. The head of the family is always male. Men take all the decisions and oppression of women is common. This family structure still exists in many parts of the world, but as women gain economic power, the absolute power of the male head is being increasingly diluted.
FACT 4: Matriarchic families have existed in many parts of the world. This form of family is found among the Native Americans in North and Central America, the tribes of North West Africa, in South India, Ukraine, some parts of Russia and China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. In this structure the woman is the head of the family. Inheritance is from mother to daughter and the woman does not leave her family home after marriage.
FACT 5: The Hindu Joint family is considered by some to be the basic pillar of the Indian social system. It is patrilocal. The woman leaves her home to live in her husband’s house. Boys do not leave their homes. Filial (father-son) relationships are considered more important than conjugal relationships. The Hindu Joint Family is characterised by a common kitchen. The families are usually large and are related by blood. Common worship and joint property are also essential features of this type of family. The male head of the family has unquestionable authority. The members are bound by mutual rights and obligations.
FACT 6: The nuclear family consists of the mother, father and the children. At first roles were clearly defined. The fathers earned and the mothers looked after the house. Male and female children had diriment duties and privileges.
FACT 7: The nuclear family is uniquely child cantered. Both parents work to give the children a happy childhood and to develop life skill in them.
FACT 8: Contrary to common perception, the nuclear family is not a fall out of the Industrial Revolution. It existed in Britain since the 13th century. The term was coined only in 1947.
FACT 9: Role in the nuclear family are constantly being redefined, as women and girls become more assertive and men and boys become more aware of the multi faceted aspects of manliness.
FACT 10: Nuclear families are undergoing further change. Single parent families are becoming more evident. In some cases the children may live with only one grandparent.