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What are Families?

There are many ways to define a family, though usually those we call family are people that we find important to us. The dictionary defines family as the smallest and closest unit of society. Family can also be defined by people who reside in a household together, providing emotional and material support, reproduction, building emotional bonds, and shared history and future. Two-parents and children is the universal or traditional type of family.

There are more types of family to give better understanding of family structure:

  • Two-parents families
  • One-parent families
  • Adoptive families
  • Childless families
  • Cohabiting couples
  • Gay / Lesbian families
  • Extended families

Alike with the term ‘family’, the definition of ‘marriage’ may vary between religions, cultures and other personal views. Marriage represents a legal union of a couple based on love, commitment and generally, desire to raise children together.

There are three components of love in marriage:

  • Intimacy: Emotional components such as tender communication and affection
  • Passion: Desire for both physical and psychological sexual activity
  • Commitment: Cognitive component, leading to know if they are in love and maintain that love

As marriage is a dynamic relationship, it is important for couples to know how to handle issues and find approaches to handle conflict. Communicating this early on will be beneficial for the relationship in the long run. Every couple has their own way to play a role in their marriage.

In general, there are two of marriage types: 

  • Traditional marriage
    The husband is the dominant head of the household, responsible for the family's financial stability. The wife takes a more nurturing role, taking care of her husband and children's needs.
  • Egalitarian Marriage
    A more democratic relationship, equal marital roles, power and authority are shared.

Types of parenting

Parenting is the process of raising children and providing them with protection and care to guide them to adulthood. There are multiple parenting styles. Parenting is complex and includes numerous responsibilities. Being a parent is a lifelong commitment to learn and raise children at the same time. In the process of successful parenting, it is important to understand a child's needs and competence. Parents have a big role and are responsible for all aspects in a child's development such as the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual components.

There are multiple parenting styles:

  • Permissive
    Liberal (no family hierarchy), don’t use punishment, encourage children to be responsible for their own actions
  • Authoritarian
    Family hierarchy, have family rules, do use punishment, one-way communication to children
  • Authoritative
    Relatively strict, give emotional support to children, two-way communication between parents and children to enhance useful negotiation while maintaining structured discipline.
  • Indulgent
    Democratic (no family hierarchy), accepting, trusting their child’s ability to regulate themselves thus demand their child for mature behavior
  • Neglecting
    Uninvolved, only feel responsible to provide basic needs for their child such as food and clothes, ignore the emotional and social roles as parents

Family relationships

  • Parent-child relationship based on biological bond and influenced by developmental and contextual conditions, affecting individual development beyond childhood and adolescence
  • Husband-wife relationship is when two individuals partnership educationally, occupationally, and in emotional connection. The relationship can be much wider than a husband and a wife, but also with both sides of family and relatives.
  • Siblings are brothers and sisters that are tied together through blood (same biological parents), adoption, blended families, fostering, and other means. Sibling relationships are influential and long-lasting. Siblings can be considered as best friends or can be the source of conflict and jealousy.


Divorce is when a married couple decides to separate legally. In some cultures divorce still considered as a taboo, social curse, and can destroy families, individuals, and faith. The Central Bureau of Statistics in Indonesia found there are 365.633 cases of divorce in 2016.

In the process of separation, the couple need to work at dividing financial assets and debts, physical property, custody, financial arrangements and parenting plan for their children. For some, divorce could give negative effects like a sense of loss, stress, affecting self-identity, emotional well-being, and general lifestyle. Divorce can be a difficult time for many and may lead to feelings of sadness, substance misuse, and depression.

Some factors related to divorces:

  • Interpersonal: low marital satisfaction, physical and verbal abuse in marriage, arguments
  • Economy
  • Background factor: low education, religion, young age

Not only do the couple feel the negative feeling that comes after, but it also may impact their children. Children whose parents go through a divorce may affect their well-being, develop feelings of confusion and loss, as well as secondary effects such as instability in finances, education and nutrition.

Some interventions to help improve the negative effects for children during a divorce: 

  • Joint physical custody: legal rights and responsibilities given to both parents of granting childrens to share time with each parent
  • Child-oriented interventions: therapy both private or group sessions to help children alleviate various problem that emerge from divorce
  • Family-focused interventions: divorce education classes, divorce mediation, and mental health intervention to help parents better able to help their children


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