The Power of Family: The Extended Family

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Family units come in all shapes and sizes. The nuclear family comprises an adult couple and their biological and/or adopted children. The couple may identify as either heterosexual or LGBTQ+, married or unmarried. In any case, they share the responsibility of raising a child or children. The extended family may have grandparents, uncles, and cousins who are related by blood or marriage living within the same household. Whatever your particular configuration of family members, it’s important to remember that no matter how different these people are from each other (and they are likely very different), there are good reasons to keep them all together under one roof. This post will outline three reasons why an extended family can be an incredible force for good in your life.

An extended family

Other Family Systems

What is a family system? In the simplest of terms, the most common family system definition is a group of people who make up the same household. However, and most importantly, a family system is characterized by interdependence, a shared history, emotional connections, and a concern for meeting individual and mutual needs. A family system serves this special purpose no matter what form it takes.

Matrifocal Family

Another family system is the matrifocal family. At the center of a matrifocal family is a mother, who may or may not have a relationship with the father of her children. This type of family system may occur for a number of reasons: out of unintentional circumstances, such as an unplanned pregnancy, divorce, or widowhood; out of necessity when a father needs to be away from home to work; or by a single woman’s own volition. Of course, a patrifocal family system—when a father manages most, if not all, of the care of a family—also happens for many of the same reasons. In cases of unmarried or divorced parents, mothers are said to be more favored in custody agreements.

Generations come together

The household may become more crowded under an extended family system, which consists of family members representing a number of generations and roles. Grandparents—even uncles, aunts, and cousins—may live with parents and their children.

In an extended family system, family members share the same dwelling and other essential resources. In addition to economic reasons, an extended family system may arise from the need for childcare or elder care. Family dynamics may become more complicated and tense in an extended family system, but the benefits of experiencing close inter-generational relationships may far outweigh the difficulties. Children may be exposed to a greater set of knowledge, may receive more emotional support, and may know a more dynamic, energetic lifestyle through combined family experiences.

Extended family systems may provide vibrant learning opportunities for children.

Blended Family

A blended family system materializes from two family units that, in whole or part, join together. A blended family may be born from separation, divorce, widowhood, or a combination of these factors.

The merging of two families is no easy feat—values, routines, traditions, etc., may collide and require a lot of compromises—but people who are part of a blended family may appreciate opportunities they may not have otherwise experienced. For example, there may be the chance to help raise a stepdaughter as the mother of all boys, to be a big sister to a baby half-brother, etc.

Working together makes a big difference

In today’s society, it’s more important than ever for families to stick together. With baby boomers aging and generation x working hard to make ends meet, it’s up to the younger generations to help out where they can.

Whether taking care of the grandparents or pitching in around the house, working together makes a big difference. The older generations provide wisdom, mentorship, and guidance that are key ingredients to ensuring that our youth are on the right path as they grow into adulthood. And while generation x is still feeling the brunt of tough economic times and trying their best to keep their heads above water financially, they’re also setting an example by teaching their children how to work hard so that when it comes time for them to have children of their own someday, they’ll know what needs to be done so that theirs will grow up with stability and security.

Deep roots help build strong families

The term family has changed over the years, but one thing remains: families are built on love. In today’s society, the nuclear family is no longer the only type of family. More and more people are part of extended families, which can include grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunties. This is especially true for baby boomers and generation x-ers, who are more likely to have grown up in large families.

How do we do it?

In our current day and age, having a strong family unit is more important than ever. With baby boomers aging and millennials taking over, we must create families that will last. Here are three suggestions for creating a strong extended family:

1. Talk about things that matter. Whether it’s politics, religion, or the latest gossip, talking about things that matter will help keep your family unit strong.

2. Spend time together. Even if it’s just once a week, make sure to spend time with your extended family. This will help everyone stay connected.

3. Eat together. Eating is one of the best ways to bond with people. One way to do this is by inviting extended family members over for dinner.

Thank you for reading!


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