1 What is the modern-day family unit?
There have been many changes in the way that families function in recent years, in particular to living arrangements in the developed world. The family unit now takes many different forms to the 20th century Western society construct of two parents and two children living in the family home.
Celia Brackenridge (2006) acknowledges these changes in her definition of the term ‘parent’:
Conventionally, the term ‘parent’ has been applied to the birth mother or father but it has become socially and politically diversified in recent years. Changes in demographic structures and patterns of family life mean that ‘parent’ is now applied to a wealth of living arrangements and adult responsibilities vis-à-vis children. For the purposes of this review ‘parent’ will be used as a generic term for any adult with de facto responsibility for the ongoing domestic care and welfare of the child but not to those ‘in loco parentis’ who take only a temporary or intermittent caring role.
This is the definition of the parent we will use for this free course along with the term ‘sibling’, which can be applied to any children living in the family home whether or not they have the same biological parents.