What is a family?

What is a family? A family is a social nucleus represented by two or more individuals who live in the same house and, as a general rule, are linked to each other by kinship or affinity relationships. A group united by ties of blood or affection.

This group lives together in a household and shares a surname, typically the paternal one. Kinship relationships will not only be between parents and children, but also between siblings, cousins, grandchildren, etc.

To your reading, an easy concept to understand, which we all handle without any problem at present. However, there are denominations that speak about distinctive features in one family with respect to another. In this article, we will learn about the different concepts of family that exist, in order to understand them all separately.


The term “family” comes from the Latin famīlia, “group of servants and slaves patrimony of the head of the house”, in turn derived from famŭlus, “servant, slave”. Roman Family also included the wife and children of the paterfamilias, since they legally belonged to him.

What is a family?
What is a family?

Single parent

The single-parent family, also called single-parent, is one made up of only one of the parents, either the father or the mother. On average, these families are headed by a woman, who must raise at least one or more of her children, finding more cases of women than men in charge of this family scheme.

This model has experienced an increase in recent years, which must be explained by different factors:

  • Widowhood: One of the parents has died, leaving the other in a state of widowhood, and in charge of the children of the family.
  • Divorce: Faced with the idea of divorcing, some parents cut their ties with their children, so separations become another factor. However, this is not decisive, since some former couples manage to maintain their family relationships despite not having a concubinage.
  • Assisted reproduction: This is a method that some people use to procreate without having to commit to another person. In this way, a woman can conceive a child, or, on the other hand, a man can rent a womb, and thus have his own family, which, given the circumstances, will be of the single-parent type.
  • Personal decisions: The idea of not having children is increasingly valued by a large number of people. Consequently, single-parent families are more frequently observed.

Single-parent families are often more exposed to situations of vulnerability, depending on a single person, who, beyond their abilities or opportunities, could be compromised by a variety of agents. For example, the death of the parent would directly affect the integrity of the children.

Despite this, it is equally notable to observe a significant number of single-parent families. Members who, thanks to their abilities, can take care of one or more people, managing to sustain a full and comfortable life with their descendants.

Of words

There is a set of words that have a semantic relationship with each other, that is, although they do not mean the same thing, they reflect certain associations when they are used. For example, the words book, libretto, notebook and bookstore support the aforementioned semantic relationship.

If we add to this the idea that these words are made up of the same root, that is, “free”, we can say that we are facing what is known as a family of words.

A word family, or also, a lexical family, is a set of words that have the same root, and that, thanks to this, are part of a family of terms that show a remarkable similarity in their meaning. The formation of these words is made up of their root and a suffix, prefix or interfix, better known as derivative morphemes.

A word family will consist of a primitive word and derived words. The first are those that fulfill the function of the root, and therefore, have to conform together with the derivative morphemes. Once these two elements are combined, the derived words are obtained.


The term lexical family is a way of referring to a family of words, where there is a set of words that use the same root to, together with a derivative morpheme, form derivative words.

It is known as a lexical family because the root is also called a lexeme, known as the main component of a primitive word, where the main meaning of a term is denoted.

In biology

The family includes genera with many common features. In biology, for the purposes of taxonomy, the family is one of the levels of scientific classification of living organisms, both in zoology and botany.

In the systemic organization, the family is inferior to order and superior to gender. Therefore, in the same order there are one or more families, and each family is subdivided into one or more genera. The family includes genera with many common features.

In biology, for the purposes of taxonomy, the family is one of the levels of scientific classification of living organisms, both in zoology and botany. In the systemic organization, the family is inferior to order and superior to gender.

Therefore, in the same order there are one or more families, and each family is subdivided into one or more genera. The subdivision into genera can be preceded by that of subfamilies, which in zoology can in turn be subdivided into tribes.


A dysfunctional family is one in which there are serious conflicts at the base of their relationships. This family group has problems maintaining healthy ties, which, consequently, ends up generating conflicting ties between its members, significantly affecting their mental and physical health.

It is called dysfunctional because it is a family unable to fulfill the most basic and important functions of a family. Among its most common traits are family abuse, lack of empathy, and even hostile behavior. However, these are just some of the most typical behaviors of this type of family scheme.

One of the main problems present in dysfunctional families is that they pose a challenge for the proper development of their children, which ends up generating a chain effect of such behaviors in most cases, or also, post-traumatic effects.

The family is one of the most important factors in the process of development of a human being. Not for less, it is known, according to the “social contract” of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as the first example of a system of government that our society has developed.

The concept of the family is not the whole of the individualities of its members, it is a correlation in which the values that a group of people uphold and practice converge. The family is an interrelated space in which two or more people exchange a bond that is nourished by all kinds of figures on a daily basis.

In a family, material, cultural, affective, social and spiritual needs exist and are satisfied. When it comes to a dysfunctional family, some of these dimensions are not being channeled correctly, which ends up compromising the effectiveness with which its members interrelate.

For a more precise approach, it is possible to specify the characteristics that are present in a dysfunctional family:

  • Resentment: There are negative feelings between family members, which are frequently repressed. This makes your exchanges negative and does not allow you to create a solid link between them.
  • Normalization: Of negative behaviors, coming to deny the abuse or neglect that occurs in the home. There are no limits in respect for others, which ends up becoming a constant, wearing down the integrity of all family members on a daily basis.
  • Inequality: There is no equity among the members, typically under sexist judgments, or also based on age. There is even discrimination regarding the economic power of family members, which makes them victims of value judgments.
  • Problems between the parents: One of the most common traits in dysfunctional families is the constant dispute between the parents. This tends to affect the children or peers, which ends up negatively affecting the ability of the family to organize itself.
  • Adultery, incest or promiscuity: A practice that can begin in the most adults, until it is repeated by the smallest.
  • There are no family moments: The family does not meet or share together moments of recreation or collaboration. The members are constituted separately, so there are no really strong ties between them.


In a family group, it is possible to find a large number of members, that is, not only parents, but also cousins, grandparents, uncles, etc. It is a very common scheme in some families. However, there are others in which only the parents and their children are found, this last family scheme is what is known as the nuclear family.

In this, parents collaborate with each other to run the home and live on the same roof together with their children. The nuclear family model is one of the most accepted by society, thus being one of the most typical that can be found in a large number of countries.

Single parent

A single-parent family is one in which there is only one parent in charge of one or more children. This term is a synonym of the uniparental expression, this being the most used of the two, to refer to this family scheme.

The term single parent is sometimes replaced by the expression single mother, under the idea of explaining that it is a single parent family with a mother in charge. However, the first term does not refer to a father, but rather to relatives, therefore, the single-parent term applies to both female and male parents.


A compound family is one that is made up of a nuclear family and other relatives, that is, grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc. This type of family can be made up of two nuclear families, or by a nuclear family and a single-parent family.

This family group is usually typical in low-income families, as well as in rural areas, although in the latter case, the formation corresponds largely to cultural reasons. In this way, compound families are a very common scheme in tribes, where they can be composed as a whole family clan with specific roles.


The homoparental family is one in which the parents are of the same sex, whether they are two women or two men, respectively. These families manage to establish themselves through assisted reproduction methods such as artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood.

The recognition of homoparental families is an ongoing discussion in a variety of countries, generally in developing countries. Meanwhile, other countries have given legal space to these unions, allowing homoparental families to be constituted under all the rights that the law grants to traditional families.


A biparental family is one that is made up of two parents, more specifically, a father and a mother. It is a traditional family, better known as a nuclear family, and it is the referential model of the family that houses in urban areas, which constitutes one of the first family models ever formed.

The term biparental refers to the presence of two parents, in this case, a man and a woman, who must have at least one child.


A functional family is one in which there is a balance in terms of their relationships. There is harmony among its members, and therefore, the ability to solve all current problems, keeping their family values intact at all times.

The result of this, a family group made up of physically and mentally healthy people, forming a home capable of constantly improving, promoting the achievement of the individual goals of all members. A functional family can also be characterized by:

  • Respect for roles and parental leadership: There is recognition towards parents by their children, while they give respect to the smallest of the house. Everyone’s opinion is valued, and in this way, decisions are made on behalf of the family.
  • Parental examples: The parent couple maintains an exemplary behavior towards their children, encouraging behavior based on good principles.
  • Solid ties: There is a bond between all the members of the family, who give each other unconditional support in all situations that arise before any of these.
  • Emotional stability: The members reflect a good ability to manage their emotions, demonstrating a high level of assertiveness in the situations of their daily lives.
  • Adaptation and understanding: Parents and their children are able to understand new ideas, as well as adapt to new lifestyles. There is the ability to face situations of change, and to tolerate stress in the face of any process that implies major changes in your life.
  • Communication: Each of the members recognizes the importance of communication, so they explain and convey their feelings whenever they need to. They have the ability to empathize, while being able to explain their ideas clearly.


An adoptive family is one that, through a legal procedure, requests the adoption of one or more children so that they become their family. In many cases, families that adopt do so due to the biological impossibility of conceiving, so they resort to this option.

The adoption must be supervised by professionals in the area, who can determine the capacity of one or two people to adopt. At the same time, the State must constantly supervise the development of these families, verifying whether the adoptee is in a healthy family space and according to her needs.

The participation of adoptive families has been beneficial and decisive for the protection of hundreds of infants, who can enjoy a place to develop fully and safely. Children who, for different reasons, have been abandoned, and can now be supported by a family group.


A traditional family is one that is made up of a mother and a father as parents, whose children are only those who have been conceived between these two. As its name indicates, this family scheme is traditionally known in the Western world, which is why it receives that name.

Currently, the traditional family continues to be part of one of the largest percentages of family models. However, other types of families such as compound, same-sex and single-parent families have shown a significant increase, becoming part of a significant percentage.

Editions 2021-22

Read also: What is jurisprudence?; Is a Family Lawyer a good career; What is a family lawyer?


  1. External resource: hrsa; britannica

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