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A nuclear family is defined as a family that comprises of the father, mother, and children. A family could be nuclear or extended, an extended family consists of many nuclear families, grandparents and other blood relatives such as the cousins, uncles, aunts, nephew, and niece. The extended family is like a compound household. This article is focused on the nuclear family.In a Nuclear family, the children could be biological or adopted. The father is the head of the household in a patriarchal society while the mother is the economic head in matriarchal societies. Children are the seeds or fruits of marriage and are catered for by the parents. Each member of the family has his or her own responsibilities, duties and roles. These roles and responsibilities are gender-based.
Roles and Responsibility of the Father
The father is the head of the family, the caretaker and the breadwinner of the family. He is at the top of the hierarchy and gives the order and authority in the house. The father has the responsibility of protecting the family and providing for their needs. In a patriarchy society ( Read about kinship and decent system here), the father is like a king which is highly respected. His decisions are the final. The father gives the hand of his children (female children) in marriage, he with his kinsmen decides on the marriage rites and dowry.(Read interesting articles on traditional marriage system in Yoruba culture, Igbo culture, Hausa culture and Fulani culture)
Roles and Responsibility of the Mother
The mother is the second in charge in terms of authority. She stands in when the father is not available or when he is indisposed. Her roles are to support the family economically and in making decisions. She and the father (her husband) have the role and duty of child-training. She is the one that is mostly around in the house, raise and takes care of the children, thus, making the children be close to her than their father. The mother cooks the meal, does the laundry and is concerned with the upkeep of the house. Most times, she is the first to wake up and the last to sleep in the house. A mother serves as the pivot in the family.
Roles and Duties of the Children
The children are the offspring and product of the union between the father and mother. They have different roles and duties due to the differences in age and gender. The female ones are expected to learn from their mothers, they are seen in the kitchen and they do the laundry in the house. The female children can take up the roles and responsibilities of their mother when she is unavailable. The male children in the house are close to the father, learn from their fathers and they take up the masculine roles. The male children believe they are not supposed to take up the feminine roles and duties. They are seen playing balls while their sisters are seen with dolls and toys. The children learn the norms, beliefs, values of the society from the family. The socialization process starts from the family. Both the mother and her children are subjected to the man in the house. They are expected to give respect to their father.