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Do Children Benefit From Growing Up in Nuclear Families?
A nuclear family is a structure consisting of two parents and their children or without them, often isolated from other relatives. This type of family has long become the most widespread and is considered traditional because it meets the needs of modern social life. Despite this, psychologists and sociologists are arguing about how this family structure affects the process of raising children. Many believe that in such families, children often remain with babysitters who are rarely interested in the quality of children’s upbringing. It also isolates children from their parents, who are always busy with their work and do not have the time to educate their children properly, and thus hinders their further socialization. Some researchers, on the contrary, are convinced that nuclear families contribute to the balanced development of the child, helping them to avoid behavioral deviations. There is an opinion that children from such families are much more likely to prove their independence from an early age and better establish relationships with peers, and their own family relationships in the future are more likely to succeed in the case of harmonious relations between their parents. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that children from nuclear families have a higher overall understanding of parental responsibilities and social traditions than children from single-parent or extended families.
The nuclear families gained their popularity in the mid-20th century when women ceased to depend on men and gained freedom to build their own careers. In addition, nuclear families with an unregistered marriage are increasingly gaining popularity, which implies joint living without any marital obligations. Nevertheless, children born in nuclear families with married parents have a stronger relationship in the future. This is evidenced by a study by the Pew Research Center, which says that only one in five children whose parents were married resorts to divorce in their personal life, while every second person whose parents were not married is bent to dissolve his or her own marriage (“The American Family Today,” 2017). Thus, it can be concluded that children from families where the parents were married tend to have a more stable family relationship in the future since marriage is one of those examples of parents that the child follows in his or her own life. As a rule, children from nuclear families learn from their parents how to properly distribute responsibilities among family members, how to care for each other, how to efficiently solve problems by joint efforts, and so on. All this is an incentive for the child to form a positive image of the family and look for similar relationships in the future.
In addition, the nuclear family provides children with financial stability and prospects for better education and career. As Anderson indicates, children from families with one parent often experience financial hardships, since the parent rarely copes with duties at work and raising a child qualitatively enough, since this requires a lot of effort and energy (Andersen, 2005). At the same time, the nuclear family in which both parents earn a living can provide a decent life for children no matter how many, to provide them with quality childhood and education. Besides, depending on how well parents deal with family issues by joint efforts, children get an idea of how they should build their relationships and distribute responsibilities in the family so that their children in the future would also be provided with financial support. Nuclear families often contribute to a more versatile development of the child, attracting him or her to various interest clubs, children communities, and sports groups, which gives the child the opportunity to develop his or her abilities from an early age. At the same time, single-parent families rarely have a chance to pay for such activities for their children, which is the reason for limiting the child’s experiences and does not give him or her the opportunity to reveal his or her potential. As a rule, children from nuclear families begin to attend school being more prepared than those from other forms of families, which gives them a chance to demonstrate a higher level of academic achievement than other children. Also, such children are much more likely to be interested in higher education, and their parents help them to enroll in universities.
Another critical advantage of nuclear families about the raising children is the stable and well-balanced upbringing of the mother and father, which, in the opinion of many specialists, is the key to the harmonious development of an individual. As a rule, mothers and fathers try to develop entirely different sets of skills and qualities in the child, which appear to be useful in later life. With a balanced background of both parents, the child gets a complete picture of the norms of behavior, moral values and duties of the individual within society. Fathers usually try to bring up physical qualities and skills in their children, perseverance, courage, discipline, while mothers, on the contrary, take care of emotional development, education, ethical values, and often it does not matter what sex the child is (DeCaro & Worthman, 2007). Consequently, when a child grows up in a family with only one parent, he or she only receives a certain set of skills and knowledge, which is often not enough for full and balanced development of the individual. If a child is raised solely by the father, he or she will most likely be involved in sports, will be interested in financial independence and career prospects, but will be deprived of the qualities that the mother usually puts in children. The same situation can be traced in the opposite case. When, for example, a boy is raised solely by his mother, his gender self-identification can significantly suffer, which can lead to notable problems concerning socialization.
As a rule, children from nuclear families feel more confident and self-efficient in all subsequent stages of socialization (at school, in college) than children from extended and single-parent families. Since the nuclear family is the most common type of family in our time, children from such families make up a large part of the pupils of schools and college students. That allows these children to find topics for conversation and common interests with their peers more easily, and therefore, it helps them to join the company. Since in nuclear families, children get enough communication with their father and mother, they have more developed communication skills with peers of both sexes, which also implies more successful socialization (Seven & Akif İnci, 2016). Children from other types of families usually have difficulty in establishing communication with peers, which in turn negatively affects their academic performance and learning skills. Children from single-parent families often consider themselves a minority, because their peers often share their family experiences involving two parents (Baferani, 2015). This depresses their psychological state and creates a barrier in communicating with peers, which can also manifest itself in deviant behavior, the use of alcohol and drugs, or even crime. Thus, it becomes clear that the nuclear family is the preferred type of family for the successful socialization of a child.
In general, it can be concluded that children from nuclear families have significant advantages over those of other types of families. According to the study, children from such families are much less likely to resort to divorce and conflicts in their own future relationships, but a significant circumstance is the fact of the marriage of their parents. Another advantage of the nuclear family is financial stability, which ensures more healthy development of the child, allows him or her to develop their talents from an early age, and to get a better education in the future. Besides, nuclear families provide a well-balanced upbringing of children, as parenting techniques of fathers and mothers are very different, since fathers are often focused on the development of physical abilities and masculine qualities of the child, and mothers are more focused on emotional, spiritual, and educational development. If a child is brought up by only one of the parents, this can lead to a number of difficulties for the development of the personality and gender identity of the child. In addition, children from nuclear families experience fewer difficulties in the process of socialization, which helps them to communicate with peers and improve academic performance.
Andersen, J. (2005). Financial Problems and Divorce. Journal Of Divorce & Remarriage, 43(1-2), 149-161. http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/j087v43n01_08
Baferani, M. (2015). The Role of the Family in the Socialization of Children. Mediterranean Journal Of Social Sciences. http://dx.doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n6s6p417
DeCaro, J., & Worthman, C. (2007). Cultural Models, Parent Behavior, and Young Child Experience in Working American Families. Parenting, 7(2), 177-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15295190701306953
Seven, S., & Akif İnci, M. (2016). Social Behaviors in Nuclear and Extended families Children Age 6 to 11 – A Longitudinal Study with Turkish Sample. International Journal Of Social Science And Humanity, 6(2), 81-86. http://dx.doi.org/10.7763/ijssh.2016.v6.623
The American Family Today. (2017). Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. Retrieved 22 December 2017, from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/1-the-american-family-today/