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11 types of family that exist in today’s society

For a long time, the nuclear family (father, mother and children) was considered the traditional family model. However, the economic, political and socio-cultural changes that have taken place over time have reconfigured this structure, to the point that it is possible to speak of 11 types of family with their own characteristics.

1. Nuclear family

It is composed of a father, a mother and the children of both. It is called nuclear because it is a single nucleus. If one of the members creates his own family (as happens when the parents separate or when the children become independent) then it will no longer be considered nuclear, even if there are members of the family who still live together.

2. Single parent family

It is a family made up of the mother or father and their respective children. This is one of the most common types of family in Latin America, where it is common for the mother to assume all responsibility for the family structure, while the paternal figure is absent.

However, it is becoming more and more common to find single-parent families in which the father is the head of the family.

Although there is no single criterion, for many specialists what determines whether a family falls into this classification is the age of the children and the type of absence of the other parent.

If the children are minors and financially dependent on the main parent, or if the absence of the missing parent is total, a single-parent family is considered.

When the absent parent has a temporary presence or is co-responsible for the upbringing or maintenance of the children, then it is a nuclear family in a single-parent situation.

3. Composite family

It is a structure made up of several nuclear families. In this case, a couple with children separates and each member of the couple forms a new family.

In the blended family, children become step-siblings and may live with one parent or share cohabitation with the primary parent and the family created by the other parent.

4. Adoptive family

It is the type of family in which both parents have the guardianship of a minor, after having completed a series of bureaucratic procedures that enable them to exercise the role of adoptive parents.

According to the laws in force in each country, adoptions can be of several types:

  • Simple adoption: although legally the minor becomes an adopted child, no legal changes are made to change his surname to that of his parents.
  • full adoption: in this case, the inheritance rights of the adopted minor are legally established, and the requirements that must be met in order to exercise them are established.
  • open adoption: the future adoptive parents have direct contact with the biological parents of the minor who will be adopted. In this case there is an agreement between the parties for the biological parents to have contact with the child.
  • Adoption closed: there is no contact between the biological parents and the adoptive parents, or a close relationship with the minor who has been given up for adoption is not established.

5. Family without children

They are the type of family formed by a couple who do not have children, either because they do not have any yet or because they are already mature or advanced in age who never had offspring.

This type of family is very common nowadays, especially in developed countries. People tend to prioritize their professional development and the achievement of individual and couple goals (studying a new career, getting promoted, buying a house, etc.)

6. Elderly family

They are families that at some point formed some other type of structure (nuclear, single-parent, adoptive), but the children were already emancipated, which is why it is now only made up of elderly parents.

7. Family of separated parents

In this case, the children live with one of the parents, since there is a separation or divorce, but they can spend time and even live with the other parent on a temporary basis.

In this type of family, it is common for children to spend weekends, holidays or special dates with the parent with whom they do not formally live.

If one of the parents forms a new family, then it becomes a composite family.

8. Homoparental family

They are families made up of a couple of men or women.

Depending on the legislation of each country, a same-parent family can be formed in three ways: surrogate motherhood, adoption or artificial insemination.

It can also be the case that one or both members of the couple have children from previous relationships and these are integrated into the family structure.

See also Difference between sex and gender

9. Extended family

In this case, it is a family group where members of different generations and roles live together (parents, children, grandparents, uncles, etc.).

It is one of the most common types of family in Latin America and in those societies with strong family traditions, and there is a high value on large social structures.

10. One-person family

Due to its characteristics, the one-person family is probably one of the least known types of family, since it tends to be taken for granted that a single person “doesn’t have a family”. However, there are multiple cases that can illustrate this structure.

A single person living independently is a one-person family. This type of family can also arise when a childless couple divorces or one of the members is widowed.

There are other cases in which a person may constitute a one-person family, such as those who grew up in child care institutions or who, for various reasons, lost contact with family or origins, and now assume themselves as sole members of their family structure.

11. Foster family

They are temporary families, which are generally made up of nuclear families or childless parents, who give a home to a child or teenager for a certain period. This happens while the institutions in charge place it with a definitive adoptive family.

In some cases, some families become foster families as a first step in preparing for an adoption.

what is family

There is no consensus on the definition of family. For some specialists it is a group of people who share a common space and have a bond of consanguinity or affinity, while other experts ensure that the members of a family do not need to live together for it to be considered a form of social organization

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