Extended family

Extended family

Extended family (or joint family) is a term with several distinct meanings. First, it is used synonymously with consanguineous family. Second, in societies dominated by the conjugal family, it is used to refer to kindred who does not belong to the conjugal family. Often there could be many generations living under the same roof, depending on the circumstances.

Roles and Responsibilities

In extended families the network of relatives acts as a close-knit community. Extended families can include, aside from parents and their children:

  • spouses of children
  • cousins, aunts, uncles
  • foster children/adopted children etc.

In the cultures where the extended family is the basic family unit, growing up to adulthood does not necessarily mean severing bonds between oneself and one's parents or even grandparents. When the child grows up, he or she moves into the larger and more real world of adulthood, yet he or she doesn't, under normal circumstances, establish an identity separate from that of the community....

Workload is equally shared among the members. The women are often housewives and cook for the entire family. The patriarch of the family (often the oldest male member) lays down the rules, works (if not retired) and arbitrates disputes. Other senior members of the household baby sit infants. They are also responsible in teaching the younger children their mother tongue, manners and etiquette. The members of the household also look after each other in case a member is ill.

Around the world

In many cultures, such as in those of many of the Africans, Korean, the Middle Easterners, the Jewish family of central Europe, the Latin Americans, the Indians, the East Asians, and the Pacific Islanders, extended families are the basic family unit. Cultures in which the extended family is common usually happen to be collectivistic cultures.

Australian Aborigines are another group for whom the concept of family extends well beyond the nuclear model. Aboriginal immediate families include aunts, uncles and a number of other relatives who would be considered "distant relations" in context of the nuclear family. Aboriginal families have strict social rules regarding who they can marry. Their family structure incorporates a shared responsibility for all tasks.

See also

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