In Britain? Most families are “nuclear families”. This means that the family consists of the parents and children. Of course, there are uncles and aunts and grand parents, too, but they do not have much to do with raising the children and often live a long way away. In many other countries, the “extended family” is more common. With the extended family, uncles, aunts and grandparents live closer to the parents and children – sometimes even in the same building – and everyone in the family has a much closer relationship.
Most teenagers say at some point; “When I’m a parent, I’m going to give my children much more freedom than I have now.” When they do actually become parents however, they soon realize that giving a child or teenager lots of freedom is not always the best thing to do. Many parents end up hearing their children saying to them exactly the same things they said to their parents when they were young.
What does bringing up a child involve? Giving a child love and making a child feel safe in their environment are extremely important. So is providing food and warmth. Parents also have a duty to teach their children the differences between right and wrong, and to make sure their children get a good education. Some parents believe that their role is also to teach children about the importance of things such as family, religion and society.
The English phrases “a chip off the old block” and “like father, like son” (or “like mother, like daughter”) are used to show the similarities between a parent and their child. These might be similarities in terms of appearance, behavior or interests. For example, if a dad loves watching cricket and his son Eric becomes interested in cricket, too, you might say. “Eric’s a chip off the old block, isn’t he?”
“Latchkey kids” are a major problem in many countries, including Britain and the USA, These are children whose parents are still at work when they come home from school, so there is no one at home to look after them. Their parents aren’t there to help with their homework, and some of them spend hours on their own before their parents’ return.
The idea of “quality time” is based on an understanding that the amount of time a parent spends with their child is not the only important thing. What is also important is what they do together during that time. Ten minutes of discussing problems that a teenager is facing may be much more valuable than two hours of watching a movie together in silence.
Families work well when things are going well, but the real test of a family comes at times of stress. Perhaps Mum has been working too hard, or perhaps young Amy is taking exams at school. These are times when all the families can find themselves fighting instead of helping each other. When a family is going through a crisis like this, it can often help to talk to someone outside the family. It could either be an expert, such as a family counselor, or a trusted family friend