The idea of family makeup has shifted significantly. Gone are the days of the nuclear family with 2.4 children per household, and in its place, a new hybrid sort of family.
There are 18.9 million families in the UK, each and every one different from the next. Family life is complex by its very nature, but modern day circumstances add to the complexities.
Official statistics show that 42% of modern marriages end in divorce, resulting in broken homes and difficult circumstances for parents and children alike. Additionally, 15 per cent of marriages were, for both partners, a remarriage.
A brand new study, commissioned by Slater & Gordon Lawyers, found that 27 per cent of Brits define family as ‘whoever you choose it to be’. It’s safe to say that the way in which we perceive family has changed then. Of those surveyed, 33 per cent of women answered as above, compared to only 21 per cent of men, suggesting that men still hold a much more traditional view of the family as an institution. Furthermore, 23 per cent of men see family as consisting of two parents and their children.
Women, on the other hand, hold a much more contemporary view of what family is, listing those close to them as family, rather than strictly those related by blood. More women defined family as ‘the people you feel most comfortable with’ than men.
The modern day family is, arguably, under much more strain than previous generations. Economic pressures have meant that adult children now stay in the parental home much longer than previously. According to the new study, 40 per cent of 18-24, and 16 per cent of 25-34 year olds still live with their parents.
Adoption numbers have also increased over the past few years: according to adoption UK there were 69,540 looked after children in 2015, compared to 68,800 in 2014. Of these, nearly 7% of adoptions were made by same sex couples, which, quite frankly, wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago.
It’s safe to say then, that the modern day family is far from simple. These complexities are more notable than ever during this time of year, when the extended family comes together to enjoy Christmas. It’s a time to celebrate our differences, rather than dwell on them. Family is the most important thing, whatever the definition may be.