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Family Structure and Size

Write about the "The Family Over the Time".

The word family gives rise to million memories in our hearts and minds. By definition, family is an association of relatives descendent from a common ancestor. It is also an establishment consisting of parents and their children (Findlay, Tam, & Kohen, 2017). Each member of a family holds a particular place in the family and has a particular role to play. In other words family is a concept that affects the entire upbringing and character of a particular person (Hampden-Thompson, 2013).

Over time, the concept of family has changed significantly. Certain factors are there that affected these changes. The effect of such factors on a family may result in either positive or negative outcome as well. This report discusses upon four key factors influencing these changes, their impacts in general society as well as on my family that I have seen over the time. A critical analysis of the changes or the lack of changes is also discussed here.

The most common concept of family is an establishment comprising of a father, a mother and children governed by cultural connotations and traditions. The Canadian family structure had seen a significant amount of changes over the time and in recent years (Ammerman, & Roof, 2014). Alternative family structures have emerged in recent time almost replacing the traditional family structure that comprised of married couples living with children (Andersen et al., 2013). Traditionally grandparents used to be part of the family as well. Nowadays, emergence of nuclear family tends to exclude grandparents from the basic family structure and include them in extended family ("Canada First Nations Families", 2017). At present, a standard family consists of four members including parents and two children (Beaujot, Liu & Ravanera, 2014).

I am raised in a similarly structured family. I live with my father, my mother and my brother. Historically the patterns among Canadian families varied in a wide range. Before the arrival of Europeans, different societies and language groups had different customs in their family structure. In nomadic hunting tribes, men after marriage use to live with their wives’ family. Women took part in hunting and farming activities. On the other hand, in the fishing community women after marriage resided in the patrilocal residence, that is with their husbands’ family. Sometimes what we call as modern trends was seen in such communities. After the arrival of Europeans, the family structure and traditions among Canadian society changed considerably. The present notion of common law marriage was introduced with the arrival of Europeans as well. It led to the generation of modern nuclear family concept in the Canadian society ("Canada First Nations Families", 2017). As mentioned earlier I belong to a standard nuclear family. My grandparents from my father’s side followed the same pattern of family. My mother’s family however followed the traditional notion of family where my maternal grandparents still stay with their son and his family. For generations my father’s side of the family followed the nuclear pattern. After getting a job children choose to live separately from their parents. The traditions are different in my mother’s family. The reasons behind such changes are difficult to state but the probable cause is that the place of work tended to be different from their hometown. That encouraged children to live separately from their parents. Now such changes arise due to the limitation of job opportunities in the hometown. My maternal family always resided in the urban area hence no limitation of job opportunity was there. That may have played a key role in the fact that, children stayed with their parents and grandparents.

Patterns of Marriage or Divorce

The Canadian society is dominated by the traditional Christian concept of marriage since the foundation of the country. The marriage patterns were influenced by western culture mostly. Historical data shows that prior to Second World War the average age of male for marriage varied from 25-29 during their first marriage where as for females the age varied between 20 and 25 (Eichler, 2017). A significant gap in age between bride and groom was present.A variety of factors may have influenced the changes in marriage patterns. These factors may be the indigenous customs of a particular social group or the religious influence (Adserà & Ferrer, 2014).

In aboriginal communities, the women and men held similar status in a family. Women like men had free choice over whom to marry and when to end a marriage if required of chosen. After the invasions of Christian missionaries, these values changed. Men started holding higher positions and the society became patriarchal. The prospect of sexual intimacy before marriage was also looked down by Christian customs but not in Canadian aboriginal communities (Hou & Myles, 2013). The choice of spouse in the aboriginal communities rested upon the bride and groom entirely. However, later family and community influence was seen in choice of spouses. Often traditionally life partners were chosen by family. Presently the customs see changes as the society changes with time. Nowadays the choice of spouse resides with the bride and groom again as seen previously with the aboriginal communities. The marriage rituals in the past were traditionally religious in Canada although in present times civil marriages of court marriages are also common. Previously there had been a custom of paying Bride price in the aboriginal communities. However, in present times such practices are obsolete. Presently the Canadian society adopted western marriage practices however traditional rituals of indigenous communities are not obsolete yet.

Divorce had not been a common concept in Canadian family and society until after the Second World War. Divorce in Canada was extremely limited until 1968 (Ward, 2017). Canada had the lowest divorce rate in the western world. The only reason for divorce until that time was adultery. Alternative unions became a practice in Canadian society in the 21st century. Same-sex marriages have been legalized in some provinces of Canada in 2003. Such changes in the marriage and divorce patterns have a significant effect on the basic family structure and values of Canadian community (Hiller & Recoules, 2013).

Child Bearing Habits and Rituals

There has been no history of divorce in my family both from paternal side and maternal side. Although distantly related cousin of mine from my paternal side practice live in relationship, it was not the case in common. Such lack of divorce rate may be due to many reasons. Holding on to traditional values may be one of them or simply lack of adulterous relationships may be other. In any instance divorce is always a hard concept to fathom for children. Estranged relationship between parents tends to put unnecessary pressure onto a child’s mind.

In Canada the traditions for child bearing for women was to conceive in early age. Women due to early marriages tend to conceive children in early age as well. Birthrates were high in Canadian society in aboriginal communities however in modern times a significant decline in birth rate had been observed. This may be due to the fact that there had been a significant rise in abortion rates for the past few decades (Margolis & Wright, 2016). Access to contraception also plays a critical role in such decline. In aboriginal communities, the average child bearing age was in mid 20s (Metcalfe, Vekved & Tough, 2014). The pattern change in the modern era slightly. However, a drastic change was observed after 2010 in Canadian childbearing patterns. The average age of women conceiving their first child changed to 30. Changes in number of children were also observed. Previously it was a norm of having more than two children in standard Canadian family. After Second World War, there had been a significant rise in birth rate, which was named by the scholars as post war baby boom. Now the norm has become having two children. A single child family is also very common. These similar patterns were also present in my family from my maternal side (Metcalfe, Vekved & Tough, 2014).

My great grandparents from my mother’s side had three boys and two girls. My grandparents had two boys and two girls. My mother grew up with many siblings. However such patterns are absent in my family from my father’s side. My father had been a single child. My grandfather had only one sister. Currently my family is a standard two children pattern. Such variations in the patterns may be due to multiple reasons. An influence of the trends of society may definitely be a significant factor. Lack of too many children in my paternal side of family may be because they tend to follow nuclear family pattern where bringing up many children could be troublesome. On the other hand, a lack of divorce patterns in both the side may be again due to the presence of children. Studies show that couples who have children are less likely to undergo separation than couples who have no child. Divorce has significant affect on a child’s mind. Children have soft minds and are malleable in nature. The environments they grow up in always have an effect in their character. A child living in a home full of conflicts tends to have a conflicted mind as well. These scenarios may have governed majority of the Canadian families to stay together and have multiple children.

The history of Canadian society reflects upon a patriarchal society however, in aboriginal communities it was not the case (Connell, 2014). As discussed earlier, men in the nomadic hunting bands use to live with their wives in her family home. Women in many cases held a higher position in society and household than men. In aboriginal communities both men and women use to work and care for their family in an equal manner. After the advent of Europeans and Christian community in Canada, the norms changed drastically (Eagly, 2013). The Canadian society after being influenced by the Christian missionaries became a patriarchal society in major part. Women started playing a more conventional role in the family (Denis, 2013). Women were entitled with the responsibility of managing home and children where as men used to work outside home. Later however the norms again changed when men and women started working outside the home together or separately however women were still responsible for managing homes and children on the major part together with outside work (Mandell & Johnson, 2016).

Even in modern times, we see such customs. Until my grandfather’s generation, this had been the norm in my family although from may parents generation the norm became that both men and women share equal responsibility for managing home and work. Such changes follow patterns of the society.

Conclusion:

Family culture patterns customs change with changing times as change is an inevitable thing. We have seen how the norms of society changed with time and the effect that had on Canadian families. My family had not been an exception of the general rule. It followed the trend s of time in family structure, childbearing patterns, and gender roles. Such changes influence each individual and their characters. The difference in patterns and culture is normally called generation gap and that is prominent in majority of the families in the modern society. The changes that are observed in my family are governed by multiple factors but the common influence is the society and the trends the society follow in a particular era.

In conclusion, it can be said that the social norms and people ling in the society always and in majority influence the changes that we observe in families over time.

References:

Adserà, A., & Ferrer, A. (2014). Immigrants and demography: Marriage, divorce, and fertility. Handbook of the economics of international migration A, 1, 315-358.

Ammerman, N. T., & Roof, W. C. (2014). Work, Family and Religion in Contemporary Society: Remaking Our Lives. Routledge.

Andersen, S., Ertac, S., Gneezy, U., List, J. A., & Maximiano, S. (2013). Gender, competitiveness, and socialization at a young age: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society. Review of Economics and Statistics, 95(4), 1438-1443.

Beaujot, R., Liu, J., & Ravanera, Z. (2014). Family diversity and inequality: The Canadian case. Population Change and Life-course Cluster Discussion Paper, 1(1).

Canada First Nations Families. (2017). Family.jrank.org. Retrieved 31 January 2017, from https://family.jrank.org/pages/199/Canada-First-Nations-Families.html

Connell, R. W. (2014). Gender and power: Society, the person and sexual politics. John Wiley & Sons.

Denis, V. S. (2013). Feminism is for everybody: Aboriginal women, feminism, and diversity. Gender and Women's Studies in Canada: Critical Terrain, 16.

Eagly, A. H. (2013). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Psychology Press.

Eichler, M. (2017). Marriage in Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 31 January 2017, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/marriage-and-divorce/

Findlay, L., Tam, B., & Kohen, D. (2017). Conceptualization of family: complexities of defining an Indigenous family. Indigenous Policy Journal, 27(3).

Hampden-Thompson, G. (2013). Family policy, family structure, and children’s educational achievement. Social Science Research, 42(3), 804-817.

Hiller, V., & Recoules, M. (2013). Changes in divorce patterns: Culture and the law. International Review of Law and Economics, 34, 77-87.

Hou, F., & Myles, J. (2013). Interracial marriage and status-caste exchange in Canada and the United States. Ethnic and racial studies, 36(1), 75-96.

Mandell, N., & Johnson, J. L. (2016). RACE, CLASS, AND SExUALITY.

Margolis, R., & Wright, L. (2016). Older Adults With Three Generations of Kin: Prevalence, Correlates, and Transfers. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, gbv158.

Metcalfe, A., Vekved, M., & Tough, S. C. (2014). Educational Attainment, Perception of Workplace Support and Its Influence on Timing of Childbearing for Canadian Women: A Cross-Sectional Study. Maternal and child health journal, 18(7), 1675-1682.

Smith, C. A. (Ed.). (2014). Regional analysis: Economic systems (Vol. 1). Academic Press.

Ward, P. (2017). History of Marriage and Divorce. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 31 January 2017, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/history-of-marriage-and-divorce/

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