Over 16% of the U.S. population lives in an extended family. In this lesson, we’ll explore the structure, advantages and disadvantages associated with the extended family system.
The Extended Family
Think about the popular 1970s television show The Waltons and the more recent television show Family Matters. What do these two television shows have in common? If you guessed that both shows contain extended families, you’d be correct.An extended family is a family structure that consists of two or more adults that are from different generations of the same family, who maintain a household together.
This includes sharing the responsibilities of the household. For example, The Waltons, Grandma and Grandpa Walton live in the same house as their son, John, and his wife, Olivia. Together they share many of the responsibilities of the household, including planning and preparing meals, cleaning the house, and raising John and Olivia’s seven children.
In Family Matters, Harriet and Carl Winslow are a married couple who live in a house with their two children; Carl’s mother, Estelle; Harriet’s sister, Rachel Crawford; and Rachel’s young son, Richie – and everyone works together to solve problems.The extended family can be compared to the nuclear family, which consists of two parents and their children who live in a household together. For example, in the television show King of the Hill, Hank Hill and his wife Peggy raise their teenage son, Bobby, and together they represent a nuclear family.
Extended Family Structure
The core feature of an extended family is that there are adults from multiple generations of a family living together under one roof. Other than this basic requirement, the structure of an extended family can vary. The structure of an extended family can include grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and even great-grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, and great-cousins
Advantages & Disadvantages
There are several benefits to living in an extended family, including having more adults present to help raise children and to share the bills and other financial responsibilities.
In addition, older generations, such as grandparents, can provide a wealth of information about the past, in terms of both family and historical events. Increased collaboration among family members, which, in turn, improves the teamwork and social skills of all the family members is also an advantage. This can be especially beneficial to children, since these skills are beneficial when playing with others and in school.However, there are also several problems that may arise as a result of living in an extended family, including decreased privacy due to so many people living in the home and conflict resulting from changing or different values. For example, the parents might think that spanking their children is not okay while the grandparents view it as an acceptable form of punishment. This and other generational differences can create conflict between family members.
An extended family consist of adults from multiple generations of a family living under one roof.
This is in contrast to a nuclear family, which consist of two parents who live in a household with their children. There are several benefits to living in an extended family system, including having more adults present to help raise children. But there are also disadvantages, including conflict resulting from changing values.