Is the nuclear family a thing of the past?

From Nine To Noon, 9:20 am on 9 September 2016
stick figure family

The family unit of mum, dad and 2.5 kids may be a thing of the past, new research has found.

The Next Generation Study, conducted at the University of Otago, found that only a quarter of 15 year olds live with both their biological parents.

The participants of the study were the children of the internationally-renowned Dunedin Longitudinal Project.

Only 6 percent of those surveyed as part of The Next Generation Study had spent their whole lives in households made up of only their mum, dad and siblings.

Lead researcher Dr Judith Sligo said the data showed how much family dynamics had changed.

“I think there is recognition there are more types of family, but perhaps they are thought of in categories like single parent family, but what we found is those things are quite fluid and they don’t last for a long amount of time.

The complexity and diversity of the modern New Zealand family had been difficult to capture due to the changing nature of families, she said.

“It may even just be things like older siblings moving out of home or new babies being born or your parent getting together with a partner who also has children and all of those things always create change in families, it’s just a little bit more amped up maybe.”

While the low figure came as a surprise to Dr Sligo and her fellow researchers, it was not a surprise to her kids.

“I think for lots of young people, that is exactly what they see in their classrooms and among their friends. It is not a surprise to young people. Also, what happens in your family is normal to you.”