Family, Social, Cultural, and Religious Influences on Child Health Promotion : Family Structure and Function

Family Structure and Function

  • A family’s structure affects the direction of nursing care
    • Traditional Nuclear family
      • Married couple and their biological children
      • Children live with both biological parents
      • No other people live in the household
    • Nuclear family
      • Two parents and their children
      • Children can be biological, step, adoptive, or foster
      • Parents are not necessarily married
    • Blended family
      • Reconstituted family
        • Includes at least one stepparent, stepsibling, or half-sibling.
    • Extended family
      • Includes at one parent, one or more children, and one or more members (related or unrelated) other than a parent or sibling
      • They follow the rules of nuclear family but also include other members
      • The grandparents often find themselves rearing their grandchildren.
      • The older relatives often hold the authority and makes decisions in consultation with the younger parents
    • Single-Parent family
      • Estimated 24.6 million children live in single-parent family in the US
      • They emerged partially because of the women’s rights movement 
      • Also, because of more women (and men) establishing separate households because of divorce, death, desertion, or single parenthood.
      • With women’s increased psychologic and financial independence and the increased acceptability of single parents in society, more unmarried women are deliberately choosing mother-child families. 
      • Frequently, these mothers and children are absorbed into the extended family.
    • Binuclear family
      • Parents continuing the parenting role while terminating the spousal unit
      • The degree of cooperation between households and the time the child spends with each can vary
        • Joint custody
        • Co-parenting
    • Polygamous family
      • Either multiple wives (polygyny) or, rarely, husbands (polyandry).
    • Communal family
      • Relatively uncommon today, communal groups share common ownership of property. 
      • In cooperatives, property ownership is private, but certain goods and services are shared and exchanged without monetary consideration. 
      • There is strong reliance on group members and material interdependence. Both provide collective security for nonproductive members, share homemaking and childrearing functions, and help overcome the problem of interpersonal isolation or loneliness.
    • LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay. Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Intersex) Family
      • A same-sex, homosexual, or LGBTQI family is one in which there is a legal or common-law tie between two people of the same sex who have children
  • Qualities of Strong Families
    • A belief and sense of commitment toward promoting the well-being and growth of individual family members, as well as the family unit
    • Appreciation for the small and large things that individual family members do well and encouragement to do better
    • Concentrated effort to spend time and do things together, no matter how formal or informal the activity or event
    • A sense of purpose that permeates the reasons and basis for “going on” in both bad and good times
    • A sense of congruence among family members regarding the value and importance of assigning time and energy to meet needs
    • The ability to communicate with one another in a way that emphasizes positive interactions
    • A clear set of family rules, values, and beliefs that establishes expectations about acceptable and desired behavior
    • A varied repertoire of coping strategies that promote positive functioning in dealing with both normative and nonnormative life events
    • The ability to engage in problem-solving activities designed to evaluate options for meeting needs and procuring resources
    • The ability to be positive and see the positive in almost all aspects of their lives, including the ability to see crisis and problems as an opportunity to learn and grow
    • Flexibility and adaptability in the roles necessary to procure resources to meet needs
    • A balance between the use of internal and external family resources for coping and adapting to life events and planning for the future


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