Compared to three decades ago, the concept of defining the family has changed considerably because of the changing family relationships. The rationale behind it is that, long then, the father, mother, children, and the extended family defined the family. Unlike that time, the family relationship has changed. Categorically, high divorce rates, early child marriages, which have made the boundaries of defining the family to change.
However, there are criterions that will be used to define a family. The social unit could be created by blood, adoption, and marriage. Ideally is can be defined by the number of members in that family; ideally, a small family and a large family differ in the number of family members that constitute them (Collins, Catheleen, and Heather 22). In this case, a father, mother, and children can define a nuclear family, while father, mother, children, uncles, uncles, and grandparents define the extended family. Apart from that, the number of parents defines the family in such a way that one parent would constitute a single parent family while two wives and one man would constitute a polygamous family.
A family is the basic unit of the society; it has the mandate of instilling discipline and maintaining social order at the family level. Apart from that, the function of providing basic needs for its members brings the aspect of stability in terms of behavior and adhering to the societal norms (Collins, Catheleen, and Heather 23). Notably, a family that provides for its members orientate them to a situation whereby its members learn how to interact and create a relationship that will be imperative in enhancing societal peace and harmony.
Families are defined by the social functions that every family member is entitled to performing. However, there are problems associated defining the family in terms of social functions. It should be noted that the concept of the family differs in terms of social functions because of the varying culture, religious practices, and urbanization or civilization among others (Collins, Catheleen, and Heather 23). In most of the Asian community cultures, the bride is the one supposed to pay the dowry to the groom’s family in an even that a family is to be started. Apart from that, some communities believe that the wife should construct the family house and welcome the man in it. In other cultures, such as the Islamic culture, the boy child has a mandate of executing many family roles as compared to the girls that, a move that brings out a different definition of the family as a basic unit of the society.
The rise of modernity and the adoption of new technology have reversed family roles making the family be defined differently. For instance, currently, it is the responsibility of both parents to provide for the family because of hard economic times. Initially, it was the sole mandate of the man or the father to provide the basic needs for the family, while the woman or the mother had a mandate of providing care and performing other domestic chores of the family (Dolch, Linda Bell, and Helen 110). For instance, in the traditional African society, the man, until now is supposed to provide the basic needs and security to members of the family. In situations where any of the family members have failed to perform their roles as expected, the situation has ended up breaking families hence leading to separation, divorce, and or complete reversal of roles.
Collins, Donald, Catheleen Jordan, and Heather Coleman. An introduction to family social work. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Dolch, Norman A., Linda Bell Deutschmann, and Helen Powell. Social problems: a case study approach. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007. Print.