Recent Tendencies in Defining a Concept of Family

Non-traditional families include same-sex parents, single parents, and committed relationships without marriage or unwed mothers. Within the framework of single parents, single motherhood could be produced through divorce or widowhood. The concept of parenthood, relationships and marriage have already undergone a change driven by the advent of non-traditional families.&nbsp.
This necessitates a definition of ‘family’. A standard text defines family as “a relatively stable group related by descent, marriage or adoption who live together with a view to procreation”, and which can occur in a variety of forms and have various functions (Ishwaran: 1992 cited by Belle n.d.). A family does not comprise of the parents alone. Parenting is received from the grandparents, unless and aunts, from community and Church elders and from siblings. Making a family involves the process of creating and sustaining close relationships that in turn nurture and support all the members. Traditionally family consisted of various extended family forms and the nuclear family has emerged only due to industrialization and modernization. The family was then seen as a unit with existence and values beyond the sum of its members. The family structure started declining in the latter part of the 20th century which led to moral collapse and social crisis. This was because of fewer social functions, less stability, and power. There was an emphasis on self-determination and egalitarianism which encouraged women to pursue other goals rather than just take care of the family.
Margrit Eichler (1986) describes a family as “a social group which may or may not include adults of both sexes, may or may not include children, may or may not involve marriage, and may or may not live together or have&nbsp.sex” (cited by Belle). This definition advocates gender equality where everyone is responsible for themselves and for their dependents. This implied an end to the privilege of marriage and other enduring forms of family. This gives more importance to the individual rather than the household unit.&nbsp.