The modern family: how the notion of family has evolved

The concept of family is not the 2.4 nuclear picture we saw a century ago. In the modern world, family means different things to different people.

How we view family life has changed and evolved dramatically. In today’s society, families come in all shapes, sizes and dynamics and this week, we wanted to take a closer look at the evolution.

What’s driven the change?

A number of factors have contributed to the making of today’s modern family . From higher divorce rates, fluctuations in the number of people getting married and those choosing to cohabit, to changing attitudes to the nuclear family dynamic.

Since 1981 the number of marriages every year has fallen by a third. According to the Office for National Statistics, fewer people are getting married than at any time in more than 100 years. But while marriage is decreasing, that doesn’t mean families are; the family dynamic has just changed. We’re seeing more families with unmarried parents, but still living together and working together in the same way a married couple would.

The legalisation of gay marriage has also made an impact, making each family unit unique and with it’s own particular experiences.

The role of grandparents

Nowadays, more women are in the workplace than ever before. As of June 2020, the Office for National Statistics recorded 72.7% of women aged 16-64 were employed, a 52.8% increase from 1971. As a result, in many families both parents work full-time. This has meant that the role of grandparents as carers for the children has increased over the past few decades.

Longer life expectancy has also played its part. A recent survey suggests 2.2 million people will live in multi generational homes in the UK by 2025. Grandparents now make up a large portion of the population, and in many families they become caregivers to their grandchildren. .

This shift in dynamic has meant that divorce or separation has a bigger impact on grandparents than it perhaps would have had in previous years, and we talk more about this in a previous blog.

Divorce and Step parents

In the first decade of the 20th century, there was just one divorce for every 450 marriages. Between then and now, attitudes towards divorce have changed. And so too has the independence and rights of women.

Today, the divorce rate is much higher. In 1971, the number of divorces was 50,000 per year. In 1981, that figure increased to 150,000.

With higher divorce rates come different family dynamics: stepparents, blended families and single parent families, all of which have become much more common. Family, from an emotional viewpoint, has become less about biology. It’s about who people live with, share experiences with and who they form deeper connections with.

Single Parent families

In the UK there are around 1.8 million single parents, which makes up nearly a quarter of families with dependent children. There are many reasons behind the rise in single parent families. But one thing is for certain; it’s one reason why grandparents may play a bigger role in family life as carers, as single parents may have to go to work and need support in looking after the children.

At Starting Point, we care about the families we work with. We understand families no matter the dynamic . Our contact centre is a place of support, not judgement, and helping families and children is at the centre of everything we do.

If you’re looking for a contact centre that’s always looking forward, get in touch with us today and let’s see how we can help.