Any Briton who has looked into their family tree will know that until WW2 it was common for families to consist of ten or more children and for the parents to have married in their early 20s. The wife looked after the house and younger children while the husband and older children earned the money. Today, the average is two children per couple, who set up home in their late 20s, and many wives have part-time jobs.
Grown-up offspring tend to live with their parents for longer, but whatever its age range, the family remains the fundamental setting for childhood, personal relationships and loving support. It involves the parental responsibilities of keeping a home and putting food on the table, which cannot wilfully be dodged without serious consequences. Children are usually kept close to home and our ancestors might have considered them rather spoilt but confined.
Divorce is actually on the decline in the UK but there are still many families with step-parents or with single parents (usually the mother). However, the family values of sharing, nurturing and ‘doing family’ together, i.e. working, playing, holidaying, celebrating and experiencing all of life’s events with each other, continue to be the norm.
(Image: Oliver Dixon at geograph.org.uk / CC BY-SA 2.0)