Couples and Families – Traditional Vs Current Definitions


Generations ago, a typical family involved father, mother and a few children. Presently, the current description of family is surprising and confusing, as a family may involve ex-husbands, his ex-wife and her boyfriend, and so on. Considering the two views, it is clear that the contemporary family arrangements are more fluid than what was the case in the past. Mostly, this shift has been attributed to the changing individual preference. However, it is clear that the choices made by individuals in the family are indeed affecting the family structure  by altering it, and also leading to large societal transformation.

Traditional and Current Definition of Couples and Family

            As a result of the complex contemporary household arrangements, it is impossible to come up with a universal definition of the word “family”. Traditionally, family has been described as consisting of two or more people who are related by blood, adoption, marriage, bear and raise children together, or form an economic unit (Wei, Schvaneveldt & Sahin, 2013). According to the U.S census bureau, family is basically made up of two or more people living together all of whom are related either by birth, marriage, or adoption (Wei, Schvaneveldt & Sahin, 2013). Such traditional definitions have been challenged by many scientists due to the fact that they exclude diverse groups of people who may also consider themselves a family. For instance, these definitions do not categorize child-free couples, cohabiting couples and even foster parents. There is also no mention of gay and lesbian couples, the grandparents who raise their grandchildren and so on.

The current definitions of couples and family may involve an intimate group of not less than two individuals who; live together in a committed relationship, care for each other and the children, and share close emotional ties (Wei, Schvaneveldt & Sahin, 2013). A majority of people may disagree with this definition in that it does not take into account the concept of marriage, procreation, and child rearing. However, it features a more inclusive view compared to the traditional definition.

Personal Filters that may lead to Obstacles when Working with Couples  and Families

When working with families and couples, there are some personal filters that may create an obstacle in my work. They include, not being able to trust others and believe in their promises and also not being able to relate to others as my family members. The latter personal filter was brought about as I grew up in an adopted family. My siblings never treated me like one of their own, but my parents struggled to make me fit in. When working with a family, I may find it hard not to take sides and look at things from both sides. My personal filter of not trusting too easily was brought about by what I went through in high school. The person I loved always took me for granted, misusing my love and trust to his advantage. Therefore, when working with couples, I may only be able to sympathize with the person who has been cheated on or hurt.

Conclusion and Recommendation

To ensure that these obstacles are lifted, there are certain things I will have to do. First, I will ensure that I put my feelings aside when dealing with couples and families, and instead focus on the knowledge I have come to gain over the past few years while taking my course. To ensure that this happens, I will always note down what each of the members are saying, thereafter, before the next session, I will brainstorm on possible measures with a colleague.


Wei, Q., Schvaneveldt, P. L., & Sahin, V. (2013). Children’s Perceptions and Definitions of Family in China, Ecuador, Turkey, and the United States. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 44(5), 643-662.

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