What Makes Up A Family Essay

Is your definition of a “normal family” a married mother and father and their biological children living together under one roof? If not, what do you think a “family” is — or can be? Do you think a new definition of family is starting to emerge in our society? If so, how do you see that in your own life or community? If not, why not? What experiences do you have with alternative family structures in general?

In “A ‘Normal’ Family,” Lisa Belkin writes about a new study that shows attitudes are changing:

What is a “family”? Statistically, it is no longer a mother, a father and their biological children living together under one roof (and certainly not with Dad going off to work and Mom staying home). Although perception and acceptance often lag behind reality, there is evidence that a new definition of family — while far from universally accepted — is emerging.

A report this month by the Pew Research Center asked 2,691 randomly chosen adults whether seven trends were “good, bad or of no consequence to society.” The trends were:

more unmarried couples raising children; more gay and lesbian couples raising children; more single women having children without a male partner to help raise them; more people living together without getting married; more mothers of young children working outside the home; more people of different races marrying each other; and more women not ever having children.

Students: Tell us how you define “family” and why. Do you think a new definition of family is starting to emerge in our society? If so, how do you see that in your own life or community?


Students 13 and older are invited to comment below. Please use only your first name. For privacy policy reasons, we will not publish student comments that include a last name.

Teachers: Our lesson plan Who Is Family? Analyzing Family Photos supplies related ideas for teaching about this topic.

Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.

What Makes My Family A Family

How often do you hear parents saying that their teenager wants to spend time with them instead of going out? Not very often at all if you ask me. Spending quality time together is one of the most beneficial and most obvious ways to improve your parent/child relationship. Unfortunately, it is what most families are forgetting. Respect is another quality that has been disappearing in families. Children treat their parents as if they are just someone in charge and not as a mother or father. Communication between family members should be on a personal level, where they can share their feelings, their experiences, and their accomplishments. Having a good relationship with your child will impact the decisions they make and how they live their life.

Why is it that young teenagers look for love and affection from someone outside of their family? I would say that their parents are not spending good quality time together. A girl that does not receive enough attention from her dad will look for attention from someone of the opposite sex. I know a family that can directly relate to this situation. The father is always either at work, or at the gym. He chooses to not have any contact with relatives, and rarely sees his own family. Just recently, he was ready to divorce with his wife. I am not saying this just to show that being away from home can cause relationship problems between the parents, their children, or even relatives. Not giving a child the attention they need can show in their life and will affect them negatively. This man’s daughter, who is an only child, has been interested in boys since age 10. She is 14 years of age now and cannot count on her hands the amount of guys she has “dated”. Parents need to be an example to their kids but in order to do so, they need to be around. They should spend time doing enjoyable activities together with their children. These could include going places, playing sports, or something as simple as eating meals together. This time spent together will show a child that their family is important and will help bring them closer.

Although it is wonderful when a child can be open to their parents on a personal level, they should know who they are speaking to. Being a friend to your child is necessary but children should not feel that it is okay to yell at their parents or speak as if they are ‘homies.’ They should not feel like they can listen when they...

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