Traditional family model: what it is, characteristics and variants

Do you want to start a family? Do you want to get married and have children? How is your family? These are questions that we can now ask ourselves, but a few years ago these approaches were not so normal, as they were understood as something necessary to form a family in a very specific way.

Before, the only possibility of a family model was the traditional model, the only one that was considered ideal and correct, this one being the most common, and formed by heterosexual marriage and children.

But now, given the changes that society has introduced, the possibility has arisen that other forms of couple can have children and thus form a family.

Then we will see what is meant by traditional family, as well as the different types that can lead to it. We will also mention the most important social changes that have taken place to date and how these have allowed the development and formation of new family models, more varied and more adapted to the evolution of society.

    What is the traditional family model?

    In Western society, from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century, in the 1980s, the predominant and most frequently presented family model was the traditional or classical model.. This model was characterized by the presentation of a structure made up of a heterosexual couple of men and women and with children, and possibly linked, with more or less kinship, to the extended family, referring to the departures of different generations. like grandparents and uncles. .

    Besides the particular structure, another of the defining characteristics is that the man and the woman were to be married by the church and each member of the couple had a very well defined role and functions. The father, the man, was the head of the family, who decided most of the important matters, as well as the one in charge of bringing the house to the house, the money. For her part, the mother, the wife, did not work outside the home but took care of household chores and was responsible for the care and education of the children.

    So, couples formed during their youth and soon to be married, to move in together and start the common family project. As a rule, the marriage was unbreakable, there was no possibility of divorce, so the couple always had to stay together. If the ultimate goal of getting married was not achieved, in the case of women, they could play the role of caregiver for the parents.

    Another striking feature of the classical family is the constitution of the couple which, added to its heresosexuality, that is to say to the fact that it was a man and a woman who formed it, had to also be monogamous. So this is it an affective-sexual relationship based on an ideal of sexual exclusivity.

    Likewise, the marriage had to have offspring. Children were detained at an early age, usually shortly after the age of twenty. The number of children was between 4 and 5, forming relatively large families of 6 to 8 members.

    Type of traditional family model

    The traditional family it may have small variations in structure, thus receiving different names.

    The model family, in the first place, is made up of a heterosexual couple and two children; the type family consists of a heterosexual couple and the children of one of the members or adapted children if there is no possibility of having them; and the functional family, also known as the extended family, consists of the heterosexual couple, their children, and the couple’s parents, siblings and cousins.

      Changes in society

      In the present century, the 21st century, there have been a number of lifestyle changes that have led to changes in the traditional family model, leaving it the only possible form of family.

      Western society has evolved and so have the family. The most notable social changes are the following: women have ceased to have the sole role of caregiver and can now work outside the home. They are thus better integrated into the world of work. Moreover, the nuclear family, understood as formed by the father, the mother and the children, has ceased to be the dominant model; there is the possibility of divorce; and new family models have emerged.

      Likewise, the process of globalization and the increased communication between countries have increased the possibility of forming intercultural partnerships.

      On the other hand too there has been a change in the conception of female sexuality, to be able to feel much more free, to be able to benefit from it and not have as only goal to get pregnant. Women also play a more “masculinized” role, if we mean by masculine the characteristics that society tends to link to men: being more independent and with more decision-making power and supporting the family.

      As for descent, it is no longer presented as the only optionbecause there are birth control methods that can prevent pregnancy if it is not wanted. Likewise, other ways of having children appeared, and biological conception ceased to be the only possibility, to be able to adopt or use artificial insemination techniques.

      The concept and the formation of the couple is no longer as strict as before, other types of relationships are now possible such as the union between two individuals of the same sex, monosexual couple, free or polyamorous relationships, giving more relationship options and ceasing to be the only monogamous relationship.

      We have previously stated that the couple is formed by marriage, this means that they usually have to get married. This tradition has also changed, as Catholic customs have now lost their strength, not seeing how it is necessary to get married in order to start a family, go to live together or have children.

      Finally, we also see the need to evoke the change that has taken place in the rhythm of life. The formation of a new family, going to live together, getting married, having children … Typically, this is done later, when the person has completed their training and achieved economic stability. Thus, starting a family ceased to be the sole purpose of life.

        New family models

        As we have already mentioned, the evolution and variations of society have also produced variations in family patterns, appearing and being possible other types of structures and relationships between members. This new range of possibilities gave birth to different family models.

        Single-parent family model

        The need for the role of father to be played by a couple is no longer essential and it is possible that only one individual plays the role of parent. This gives rise to what we call a single parent family. So, the family would consist of a mother or a father and a child or several children living together and cohabiting.

        Thus we can find families with only one parent who has divorced, who has become widowed, who has decided to remain single and adopt, to have children by artificial insemination or who became pregnant and wanted to continue but without having need ‘a couple.

          Homosexual family model

          The new, more open vision of couples and the relationships that society currently maintains has made it possible to form families with same-sex couples; that is, the parents are two individuals of the same sex. In some countries, it is possible for a homosexual couple to legalize their union and make it the possibility of adopting a boy or a girl.

          To be parents, same-sex couples can start an adoption process; use surrogate motherhood or surrogacy, a legal procedure in some countries, or in the case of the couple is women, practice artificial insemination. Likewise, homoparental family will also be understood to mean that made up of a homosexual couple and the children of one of them from a previous relationship.

          In this way, we can now observe multiple and very different family structures. The possibility of starting a family and having children is no longer exclusive to the traditional model of heterosexual marriage, who share accommodation and have children in common.

          We can now consider homosexual couples and their children as a family, single, divorced or widowed parents who only play the role of caregiver, couples who live apart and have children in common … among so many. other options that opened the vision, allowing the family structure, the way of understanding the family, to adapt to what we want or to the way each subject wants to live, and not being the one this which must adapt to the family model by default.

          Bibliographical references

          • Atia Psychology (2019) The traditional family is changing.
          • Cuatrecasas, S. (2013) New family models. La Vanguardia.
          • Oliva, A., Parra, A., Antolín, L. and Arranz, E. (2010) Family diversity and psychological development: a pioneering study conducted in Spain.
          • Benítez, Mª E. (2017) The family: From traditional to questionable.

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