Social scientists have noticed that the concept of the family has changed in the past 40 years, and this has led some to comment on the 'disintegration of the nuclear family'. Do you agree with the claim that the nuclear family unit is breaking down?
The conventional nuclear family model, Murdock first spoke of, which entails the father as the employed bread winner and the wife as the stay at home housewife and mother looking after their children. This early idealistic model of the stable family life has changed and evolved. Some of these contributing factors that may have changed the family dynamics are, equality between men and women, the loss of religious influence over the traditional marriage, the accepted lifestyle of same sexed families, the increasing number of sole parents as well as blended families have diversely changed the way society sees the evolving complexities of the family unit. This essay aims to show that the traditional nuclear family unit has not disintegrated, but has evolved.
The phrase the nuclear family was first used by Murdock in 1949 , in that time, most family units resembled what he referred as both sexed adults in a socially approved sexual cohabiting marriage with children that were biological or adopted (Murdock, 1949, p 1). Within the boundaries of the nuclear family, some parents found it a haven, where defined rules and standards were adhered to. Children thrived on the security and constant attention of the availability of their mother to drive them to soccer or ballet practise. Fathers had a defined role as the breadwinner, the head of the household. However to some, they found the nuclear family structure to be bounding, confining and demeaning. Mothers were discouraged from working, fathers were overburdened with the demands of being the sole breadwinner, parents who were unhappily married were 'compelled to stayed together, “for the sake of the children” and to avoid the stigma of divorce' (Elkind, 1994, p.8)....
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