The family: Basic unit for the developing person by Murray and Zentner (2009) Course Pack Reading
This basic unit, the family, affects our development and health that we may live successfully or
unsuccessfully because of its influence.
Culture, not biology, determines family organization. The family exists as a primary system and social
group, because most of the people share many of lifes experiences with the family. The family has a major
role in shaping a person; it is a basic unit of growth, experience, adaptation, health and illness.
The traditional family persists as a norm in the imagination. Today, the fragility of marriages (divorces), the
diversity of roles held by the members and the increasing number of homeless families prevent the respect
of those norms by each individual.
This reading is an overview of the various forms, stages, and functions of contemporary families and of
how you can use this knowledge.
Keep in mind that family purposes, stages of development, developmental tasks, and patterns of
interactions are all closely interrelated.
The family should be viewed as a system, affected by the culture, the environment, religious-spiritual
dimensions, and other variables, which affect the person and the society.
Definitions and Family Composition
The family members may be related to each other by blood, adoption, or marriage/cohabitation. The family
also may be defined as domestic partners (intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring).
Nurses who care for families should learn who it is that clients consider being members of their family.
These persons should be included in the planning of nursing care.
The familys beliefs, values, and practices strongly influence the health-promoting behaviors of its
The nuclear family: two-generation family consisting of parents and children
The family is a group whose members rely on each other for daily services.
Non-traditional forms of families: same-sex or homosexual families. The study results indicate that same-
sex marriage is here to stay, and that increasing our understanding of this phenomenon is a critical new area
of social science research.
People begin to realize that divorce does not necessarily improve life. The allure of creativity, growth, and
expanding oneself emotionally through divorce is not necessarily realistic.
Trends, roles, and functions of the family
Demands of family time enters into our contemporary descriptions of family life: Changing family form,
increasing effects of technology (accelerates the family lifestyles), increasing workload (overwork)
Summary of Major Family Theories and ApproachesFamily Theory Definition of Family View of Person Approach/Focus
Developmental Theory Family as several View as a member of a Analyze developmental
frameworks group; each members needs and tasks of each
adds complexity to the family life-cycle stage;
Series of interacting group behaviors and changing
personalities organized roles and tasks of each
into paired positions members; analyze the
(father AND husband, family as a unit, a whole;
sister AND daughter) culture influences
families at each stage of
the family-life cycle
Structural-functional Family as a system Person fulfills roles and Determine how family
Theory has a status in the social patterns are related to
Acts under family system other institutions and
constraints, opens to overall society; study
outside influences, family functions such as
maintains boundaries reproduction and
Interactional Theory Each members Person fulfills roles and Analyze roles, action
interacting, with as an interacting being. taking communication
assigned positions and processes, conflicts,
roles, norms of problem solving, and