Difference Between Nuclear Family & Extended Family

Nuclear Family vs Extended Family

Family is the most fundamental social unit in any society. It plays a crucial role in the human context as it helps in the socialization of children. However, before discussing the functions and responsibilities of a family, it is essential to differentiate between nuclear family and extended family. This distinction can be confusing for many people, especially in cultures where extended family is still predominant. A family is defined as a unit consisting of biologically related (or related through marriage) individuals who live together under one roof. Extended families are a natural concept and remain popular in many cultures, although nuclear families are quickly gaining popularity as people move to other cities in search of employment. Let us examine the differences between these two types of families.

In the past, with limited opportunities for education and employment, people often stayed with their parents and even married and raised their children in their parental home. This meant that such a family would consist of a man and his wife, their children, their children’s spouses, and their children’s children. This arrangement created a large group in which roles and responsibilities of members were divided. Women took care of children and cooked food, while men worked to earn a living. This arrangement worked well in the past, as it was easier for children and men to be assured of the safety of their wives and children. It required a large house with a communal kitchen, where the women of the family cooked food for all family members. The head of the family was the oldest male member, and the family was patriarchal in nature. The head of the family was respected by all and had the authority to resolve all problems and disputes between family members.

There are still some countries and cultures where extended family is the norm, although nuclear families are increasing in number. India is one country where, despite all modernism and advancement, one can still find extended families, which are referred to as joint families there. Joint families result in savings, as money is pooled, and grocery items are purchased in bulk.

The concept of nuclear families developed when people had to move out of their villages and settle in cities where they found employment opportunities. A nuclear family consists of a man and his wife, along with their children (unmarried). It was only natural for a man to marry after getting a job in a city away from his parental home and start his own family. In a nuclear family, there are no cousins, aunts, or uncles for a growing child to rely on. However, in nuclear families, there is greater privacy and autonomy for the head of the family, who is free to make decisions, which is not possible in an extended family.

It is a known fact that the virtues of tolerance and compliance are gradually decreasing in degree, and in the modern world where materialism is the buzzword, nuclear families are being preferred over extended families. Women feel more confident in their approach when they raise a nuclear family than when they are in an extended family, as they know that they are alone and have to face all situations on their own and cannot expect a cushion of other people as is the case with an extended family.

Key Takeaways

  • Nuclear families consist of a man, his wife, and their unmarried children, while extended families include other relatives such as aunts, uncles, and cousins.
  • Extended families are more common in cultures where people stay in their parental homes, while nuclear families are becoming more popular as people move to different cities for work.
  • Nuclear families offer more privacy and autonomy for decision-making, whereas extended families provide shared responsibilities and support in raising children.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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