Abstract：Family is the basic miniature of the social economic activity, and it is the basic unit that constitutes the society. The values of the society rely on people’s family values in a large degree. However, due to the difference of geographical and historical background, religion and belief, different nations have their own family values.A clear and direct contrast between Chinese and American family values can bridge over their communication gap.The paper first introduced the Definitions of Families．It then，focuses on the difierent types of families in China and America．In the following section，the paper proceeds to elaborate the extension of family to social relationships．The Paper ends by discussing the difierent attitude towards Family members
Keywords：family；values；social relationships；filial piety；age；friendship
The Family is the basic unit of society.It reflects the ethical values of a society,its cultural characteristies and the unique features of a nation．The family is among the oldest and the most fundamental of all human institutions．This echoes of Galvin and Brommel’s words that we were born into a family,mature in a family,form new families，and leave them at our death．Family life is a universalhuman experience．The family is also an expe rience that helps shape the way in which one sees and interacts with the world（Davis，2001）．Many anthropologists and sociologists (DENC，1988) have said that describing the family in a society is sufficient to show the true quality and characteristies of the nation． 1．Definitions of Family
Traditionally speaking, family should be defined as a group of people related by blood, marriage or adoption, living together, to form economic ties, to fertilize and to bring up children. According to this idea, families form the continuation through child-rearing. “Family is the basic unit of a society; it is very much like a mirror, reflecting the society’s cultural characteristics, moral beliefs, economic and political relations and other social problems.” Different cultures create different families, which at the same time cause different concepts of families. Consequently, the different concepts of family between China and America are ascribed to different cultural contexts in the two countries. Cultural traditions and family values vary from country to country; therefore, to understand the historical development of Chinese and American families, the basic model, and the relationship among the family members will, undoubtedly, help those who are involved in cross-cultural communication. 2．Functions and types of families
As has been stated above．the family is the most important unit in all societies.But due to the difierent cultures and traditions in diferent countries，the configurations of the family are also diferent． In America,the dominant type of family is the nuclear family(mother,father and dependent children)．In addition，there are family types like single-parent family and live-in couples(heterosexual or homosexual，with or without child)．After their children coming of age，their grown children usually move out of their parents’ household and start to live on their own．Stewart notes that children at the age of 22 or above usually pay their living expenses if they still live in their parents’house．which shows their independence,self-reliance and self-responsibility．Middle aged and elderly people generally do not live with their married children．Howeve parents usually keep close contact with their grown children and take great interest in their grandchildren（Steward,1972）．On holidays，members of the larger family group---grandparents，aunts，uncles and cousins often dine together． The traditional popular view held that the typical type of family is the extended family of several generations．As a matter of fact，it was an ideal for most people even in feudal society because...