The dynamics of a family have evolved a lot over the past few decades. Gone are the days when a perfect family was defined by a dad, a mom, and a couple of kids. Nowadays, single parenthood, mixed family, or even the same gender families have become far more common. It is safe to say that the types of families have diversified enough to be categorized into six different types.

Types Of Families – Social Structures & Anthropology

The dynamics of a family have evolved a lot over the past few decades. Gone are the days when a perfect family was defined by a dad, a mom, and a couple of kids. Nowadays, single parenthood, mixed family, or even the same gender families have become far more common. It is safe to say that the types of families have diversified enough to be categorized into six different types.


Why family is important?

Families play a very important role in building a household that is safe, secure, and filled with love and support. For every single person, a family brings a sense of belonging and unconditional love through the thick and thin of life.

Ultimately, family is about creating strong relationships from the first day of life. A family can impact an individual’s life to the extent of best or worst. Parents are the very first people with who a child becomes familiar. Likewise, parents are also the very first people who lay the principles of life for their children. They become role models and teach their children the ways of living.

In the current circumstances, the types of families play a strong role in painting the picture of the world for their children. Therefore, learning about the type of family you belong to becomes important. As it will help you understand the basics of your family type and know how it affects your life. Learning about family types can also help underline some of the family problems you might be struggling with.

The 6 Types of Families

​Today, not all families are known as nuclear families. The world has evolved enough to nurture and accept all the other types of families like:

  • Stepfamilies
  • Single-parent families
  • Families headed by two unmarried partners
  • Families with partners of the opposite sex or the same sex
  • Childless families
  • Households that include one or more family members from a generation e.g Extended families
  • Adoptive or foster families
  • Families where children are raised by their grandparents or other relatives

Each has distinct advantages and challenges. Largely, these families are divided into six major types. Let’s discuss them in detail:

types of families

1.      Nuclear Family

Nuclear families consist of 2 parents and children. It is one of the types which held the flag for a long time for being a perfect family type. The idea behind nuclear families is to raise the children together. The parents can be either married or common-law. The children in the family can be biological or adopted.

No matter the circumstances, the partners put in the best efforts to raise their children together and provide the best lifestyle for their children.

Financially stabled householdCan be too child-focused
Children get most of the attentionFamily may become self-centered
Schedules are consistent and workableMay have continuous conflicts and power struggles
The focus is on communicationExclusion from extended family may result in isolation
Health and education are prioritized 
The children have several opportunities 

2.      Step Families

A stepfamily is one where two families merge and become an even bigger family. It is a blended family system where the divorced parents get married or commit to different partners and co-parent their kids in their new respected families.

Similar to single-parent families, stepfamilies weren’t really celebrated. In fact, they were looked down upon and people thought ill of the parents who decided to raise their kids in the stepfamily system. But now it has become normal for couples to separate and co-parent their children even after they get involved with other people romantically.

Children have two parents aroundStepfamilies are hard to accept
May even get new step siblingsParenting stepchildren can be problematic
Build a strong bond with stepparent or step-siblingsDisciplining may be inconsistent and difficult
Two streams of income may come in handyYour children may retaliate

3.      Extended Family

While most western nations aren’t really aware of the extended family type, it is fairly common in several eastern cultures. Extended families have existed for hundreds of years and hold a very significant role in their culture and religion.

Extended families are families with parents, children, and people related through blood or marriages and have children. It is also known as a joint family system where the parents, brothers, and unmarried sisters of the male counterpart of the relationship live together with their immediate families.

Support of family is always therePrivacy may be affected
Children learn about the importance of eldersFinancial issues can occur
Daily house chores become easy and manageableFamily conflicts may get ugly
Children build a strong relationship with extended familyExpectation exceeds the reality
The child learns to live in a diverse atmosphereEverybody has a different opinion

4.      Childless Family

A type of family with two parents and no kids is known as a childless family. The absence of children may be voluntary or the partners cannot have kids for some or other reason. Sometimes they cannot have children due to biological reasons or do not qualify to adopt a child as well.

Back in the day, childless families went through traumas because of societal pressure and expectation. But today, the page has flipped and more and more families are choosing to postpone having children or deciding not to have any at all. Plus, not everybody wants to be a parent and some couples do great without kids.

Surprisingly, pets have become the second-best option for such families to fill the void of a child. People have also become very ambitious and hence don’t want kids to slow down their progress.

Have a strong financial stabilityMay feel isolated when others have kids
Partners devote time to each otherThe void is very prominent
No dependents to take care ofPeople may judge
Lots of freedom to travel or do as you likeInfertility can be very hard on couples
Health and education are prioritized 

5.      Single Parent Family

Single-parent families consist of one parent and one or more children. It is one of the types of families which are growing in number since the last few decades. An increase in divorce rates, an increase in children birthing out of wed-locks, and a decrease in marriages have caused a very significant rise in single-parent families.

Parents in such a family may be divorced, widowed, or may have even never married but they put all their efforts to survive the turfs of life and give their child the best of them. Single parenthood is undoubtedly very tough, but parents still choose to manage their families and challenge society’s gender roles and norms.

Children learn household dutiesFinancial struggles are very real
The parent-child relationship is very closeChildren may suffer the quality time with the parent
The child matures before ageParenting becomes inconsistent
 Parent guilt is very common

6.      Grandparent families

Although grandparent families aren’t among the most common types of families even today. But you can still find them now and then. A grandparent family is one where the children are parented by their maternal or paternal grandparents and not their original parents.

The absence of parents maybe because of several reasons. Either the parents are incapable of raising the child on their own or have died. Sometimes the situations aren’t ideal and it may become very difficult for the grandparent to raise a child but they choose to do so, so that the child doesn’t end up in foster care or even worse, on the streets.

A strong bond between the grandparents and the childLack of opportunities for the child
Children are saved from worse conditions due to the absence of a parentThe parenting styles might be obsolete
Grandparents already have a good idea about parentingVery difficult for grandparents to keep up with the child
 Financial struggles may occur

Take Away

When it comes to families, there is no right or wrong type. Because sometimes families happen due to the circumstances you might not be able to really control. Therefore, I wouldn’t label a particular family the best or the worst. As long as the family is filled with love, support, and the right guidance it will all work out in the end.

Families need to do what’s best for themselves and work towards a common goal. A family has very strong sway over an individual. Both parents play an equally important part in shaping the personalities of their children. They can either make a person or break them completely. Therefore, it’s so important to keep the dynamics of the family healthy and loving.

Every type of family has its strengths and weaknesses. All that matters is that you are ultimately happy with your family and you not in a toxic family environment. And undoubtedly you will experience multiple family types throughout your lifetime. Just be sure to address the situation for what it is and try your best to bring the best in every family you are a part of.

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