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Nuclear Family Members and Their Roles

What is Nuclear Family

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Family could be nuclear or extended. A nuclear family comprises of the father, mother and children while the 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 and roles. These roles are gender-based.

1.The Father

The father is the head of the family, the care-taker and the bread winner 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, 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.

2. 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 of child-training. She is the one that is mostly around in the house, rears and takes care of the children, thus, making the children to 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. 

3. The Children
The children are the offspring and product of the union between the father and mother. They have different roles 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 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. 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. 

In agricultural and male-headed societies, the father owns the farmlands while the woman takes care of the livestock. Both the mother and the children are used as labour on the farms. The father plants, ploughs while the woman, with the children harvest and market the farm products. On the other hand, in a female-headed household, the mother is the bread winner and provides for the needs of the family. She owns the farmlands, farms and rears livestock while the father sits at home taking care of the house and the children. This is common in the hoe-agricultural societies. In these societies, the authority still lies with the men. In both type of families, division of labour is important for the growth and development of then family. Unity, co-operation and agreement is expected to reign in the family. 


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