The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of family is: a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit; a group of people related by blood or marriage; the children of a person or couple being discussed.
But this definition is rapidly changing. In the last three decades, divorce rates have risen, marriage rates have declined, parents tend to be older and families are smaller. Single-parent, blended families, and families with two mums or dads are also becoming the new norm. We’ve certainly come a long way since The Brady Bunch.
As we celebrate the International Day of Families this month, we have to wonder if the family unit could become obsolete.
“In the early ’80s some people wondered whether the family would actually survive,” says Professor Alan Hayes, the director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, which has been charting family trends for 30 years. “The marriage rate was declining and more people were living together. The divorce rate had also increased dramatically,” he explains.
Yet despite the fact that the times are a-changin’, one thing remains the same –families still play an essential role in society, helping us to care for one another, physically or emotionally, and in raising children.
The experts agree: “The family unit has thrived and continues to play a central role in shaping the health and wellbeing of all family members,” says Hayes.
Do you believe families have changed for the better? Is yours a modern family? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.