A family is a system consisting of interrelated parts that affect each other, and each contributes to the functioning of the whole. The family is self-organizing and adapts to changes in its composition and its environment. Currently, the family is described as immediate, consisting of children and the support figures to include single, lesbian, and gay parents and other caregivers. A family grows in complexity with the addition of a new member since existing members have to develop relationships with the new addition. An extended family is more complex.
The family system exists within other bigger systems like neighborhoods, the community, and culture. The family system is ever-changing since each individual is developing, and the relationship changes over time as well. The changing family system exists in a changing world, which currently has seen an increase in single adults, postponed marriages, unmarried parents, working mothers, divorce cases, single-parent families, remarriages, years without children, multigenerational families, and fewer children and caregivers for aging adults.
Mothers and fathers affect the development of their children. The relationships fathers and mothers develop with their children are uniquely different, but both figures are almost equally capable of offering the same quality of child care. Both are sensitive, can form attachments with their babies, and offer security. Currently, fathers are taking more childcare roles as more mothers are working (Family System).
However, both differ somewhat in how they interact with their children. There are different parenting styles influenced by the dimensions of acceptance-responsiveness and demandingness-control, with the former being the extent to which parents are warm, supportive, and sensitive to their children, and the latter referring to the extent of control the parents have over their children.
Parenting can be authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or neglectful. Parenting works well with both love and limits. Social class and economic inequalities affect parenting styles and child outcomes. Consequently, financial stress affects a parent’s mental health and parenting, which impacts child development. Low-SES parents have fewer resources to invest in their children. Parents in different socioeconomic statuses have varying values and socialization goals that influence parenting style.
Parent Effect, Child Effect, Interactional, and Transactional models offer more understanding of how parents and family influence children’s development. Siblings have their unique roles in the families. Despite increased rivalry and jealousy, they offer emotional support, caregiving, teaching, and social experience to their brothers and sisters. Adolescents aim to achieve autonomy in making decisions and managing their own lives. For adults, marriage is a significant transition moment, and it involves taking on new roles as husbands and wives.