Family Flow - A dive into the beauty of contemporary family

Although family structure and diversity of families has been changing and developing for decades, there are still a lot of myths and stereotypes around raising children in a different family structure other than “nuclear or traditional families”. For me, personally, there is no right or wrong way to form a family as long there is love, support from each other and care for the children's welfare that it tends to be successful and thrive.

Contemporary families include but are not limited to Multicultural family, LGBTQIA+ family, solo parenting, grandparents family, adoptive family, foster family, nuclear family, childless family, stepfamily and so on.

Despite all the changes, the new conjugal family still retains the typical traits of the traditional family. The way that the concept of family has been changing in recent times, makes it impossible to identify what is as a standard or ideal model, however, we still have the traditional internalized model operating in our society and this understanding of what constitutes a family is still very much present in society, despite the numerous ways in which the notion has been reimagined and reconstructed.

My aim for this research is to raise awareness of all of the positive aspects of being part of a diverse family and to emphasise that the values of a family don’t depend on its structure, but on love, care and the way in which the people within the family unit treat each other. The family, regardless of its shape or configuration, is a place for the construction of personal and social identity.

Researcher Frank F. Furstamberg says 'Children's welfare appears to reflect what demographers refer to as period effects that are immediate temporal influences resulting more from economics, political and cultural conditions or exposure to media than from cohort effects that birth groups carry with them over a lifetime'. In his paper, Furstamberg articulates that many more children are likely to grow up with more rather than less, family instability. Even ‘stable’ more traditional two-parent families will continue to feel the pinch of balancing work and domestic responsibilities. This condition puts a demand on the state to pick up some of the slack by providing quality child care, medical insurance and after school services such as access to art, sports and so on to ease the burden placed on parents who do not have the financial means to arrange for these services privately.

Is important to expand the ways in which the notion of family is perceived in society so that for instance a woman alone with 3 children or same-sex parents taking care of their children with love and affection should receive the same respect and acceptance as all others. We need to work towards changing the discourse around families in our society and moves towards an understanding that all families, regardless of their configuration are complete, valuable, worthy of our respect and acceptance, rather than seeing them as somehow different from the ‘norm’ or the ‘ideal.’

With this survey, I hope to contribute to the visibility of the contemporary family in a positive and complete way, highlighting all of the advantages of diverse families. To gather a selection of happy ordinary or special family moments from a wide range of family structures, know more about diverse families from their perspective and demystify that children raised by families from different structures are not as successful as much as children from a nuclear or traditional family and mostly important review the vast positive aspects of being in a diverse family.

This research is funded by the Arts Council and supported by Dance Ireland.

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Furstenberg, F. (1999). Family Change and Family Diversity. In Smelser, N.J. & Alexander, J.C. (Eds.), Diversity and Its Discontents: Cultural Conflict and Common Ground in Contemporary American Society (pp. 147-165). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Nayara Hakime Dutra Oliveira, editora UNESP-Scielo- Família contemporânea Books,OLIVEIRA, NHD. Recomeçar: família, filhos e desafios [online]. São Paulo: Editora UNESP; São Paulo: Cultura Acadêmica, 2009.