# 13.4H: Replacing Family Functions

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Family types that are replacing the traditional nuclear family include single parent families, cohabitation, and gay and lesbian families.

Learning Objectives

• Examine the different types of families and the changing face of family roles

## Key Points

• Single parent families usually refers to a parent who has most of the day to day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children who is not living with a spouse or partner, or those who are not married.
• Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally and/or sexually intimate one, on a long-term or permanent basis.
• Gay and lesbian couples are categorized as same sex relationships. In 1989 Demark was the first nation allow same sex couples to get married to provide equal rights to all citizens.
• Singlehood is a family that contains a person who is not married or in a common law relationship.

## Key Terms

• cohabitation: An emotionally and physically intimate relationship that includes a common living place and which exists without legal or religious sanction.
• Single Parent Families: Families in which the children are primarily raised by one parent rather than by both parents.
• singlehood: The state of being single (unattached or unmarried).

The sociology of the family examines the family as an institution and a unit of socialization. Sociological studies of the family look at demographic characteristic of the family members: family size, age, ethnicity and gender of its members, social class of the family, the economic level and mobility of the family, professions of its members, and the education levels of the family members.

## Current Studies

Currently, one of the biggest issues that sociologists study are the changing roles of family members. Often, each member is restricted by the gender roles of the traditional family. These roles, such as the father as the breadwinner and the mother as the homemaker, are declining. Now, the mother is often the supplementary provider while retaining the responsibilities of child rearing. In this scenario, females’ role in the labor force is “compatible with the demands of the traditional family. ” Sociology studies the adaptation of males’ role to caregiver as well as provider. The gender roles are increasingly interwoven.

## Alternate Family Forms

The number of married couples raising children has decreased over the years. In Canada, married and common law couples with children under the age of 25 represented 44% of all families in 2001. This statistic has lowered since 1991, when married and common law couples raising children under the age of 25 represented 49% of all Canadian families. There are various other family forms that are becoming increasingly common.

A single parent family usually refers to a parent who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children, who is not living with a spouse or partner, or who is not married. The dominant caregiver is the parent with whom the children reside the majority of the time; if the parents are separated or divorced, children live with their custodial parent and have visitation with their noncustodial parent. In western society in general, following separation a child will end up with the primary caregiver, usually the mother, and a secondary caregiver, usually the father.

Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an intimate relationship, particularly an emotionally and/or sexually intimate one, on a long-term or permanent basis. Today, cohabitation is a common pattern among people in the Western world. More than two-thirds of married couples in the U.S. say that they lived together before getting married.

Gay and lesbian couples are categorized as same sex relationships. In 1989, Demark became the first nation to allow same sex couples to get married. After this, many nations, such as Canada and Spain, began to allow same sex marriage. Some states in the United States have changed their laws to allow same sex marriages, but 30 states have yet to amend their laws.

ACLU Freedom Files: Lesbian & Gay Parents | Florida: “Freedom to Parent: Lesbian & Gay Families” shows how bans on adoptions and fostering by same-sex couples end up hurting thousands of children who are desperate for good homes. The program looks at the impact of a Florida law that prevents needy children from being adopted by loving gay families.

A singlehood family contains a person who is not married or in a common law relationship. He or she may share a relationship with a partner, but lead a single life style.

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