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The UK is seeing a seismic shift within family life, and we’re starting to ask questions of ‘are we moving backwards or forwards?’

Different cultures prioritise different family scenarios – within the UK, the so called ‘nuclear’ family came with the industrial revolution back in the early 1800s and was seen as an essential part of the advancement of the economy. People became focused on their immediate family – their partner and children, their own parents, cousins, siblings were no longer a priority for them to take care of. It soon caught on and took off as the UK industrialised and men sought employment in the new age of work.

The ‘extended’ family that was once commonplace in Britain, was rather viciously replaced by the ‘nuclear’ family. Even the name ‘nuclear’ feels dated today.

It’s been revealed that within the next decade, families with 2 retired generations in the household are set to jump by a third, to well over one million. Some 55% of future retirees expect to give financial support to relatives – compared to the current 37% of retirees. These stats go hand in hand and a huge reason for the significant rise comes down to the cost-of-living crisis.

More and more families are having to lean on each other, from what used to be a ‘fend for themselves’ attitude, has quickly changed to a more supportive attitude, which many feel has not been a choice but understand now more than ever, our people need better support. Without the support of those in charge, we rely on those closest to us.

More retiree generations being present in households means families are providing for more people, and under just one roof – the issue with this, the next generations struggle to get by alone, inevitably damaging the economy. It can be harmful for families too as they are unable to escape the cycle of reliance on or providing for more people than expected.

In line with the stats rising, there is also the inclusion of other cultures playing a part. In wider societies, the involvement of extended families is valued a lot more – grandparents, uncles and aunts help raise children and support in any way they can, but it can lead to the next generations feeling obliged, or expected to help their older generations when the time comes – which just isn’t feasible in today’s harsh financial climate.

It’s extremely unfortunate that cultures are going to struggle to continue traditions, or even change what they are used to, or want to do for their families.

I mentioned the nuclear family’s impact on the economy – it was what many people were used to and saw as the ‘perfect family’. It made some sense, the less people to provide for, the easier it is to get by, and the more money you had to live and work. Times are changing, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be for the better.

It’s clearer to see than we realise, that neither extended nor nuclear families are the only families that can work – in fact, we see dysfunctional examples of both.

The Royal family, the largest extended family around, has proven how much too many opinions and involvements can diminish relationships. Prince Harry was not the first and will not be the last Royal ‘cast off’. He is almost just another celebrity name instead of being associated with the Royals themselves. Since we can remember, rumours, scandals, and media coverage has shown that extended families aren’t always desirable.

The once desirable compact nuclear family has also been proven to be a victim of dysfunctionality. The Smiths, Will, Jada, Jaden, and Willow are one of the most famous families in the world – they too were once desirable, from the ideal love and life portrayed with very successful children in their own right. But over the past few years we have seen the breakdown – scandals, both personal and professional, have partly tarnished their own legacy. Might having other family members around have helped?

It’s not to say these family types don’t work in modern times, but if we want to move forward, family types should not be chosen based off what helps the economy and society, it should be based on what people want and can have, people should always have a choice – economic issues should be eased by the government.

In modern society, we have seen the introduction and growth of same sex marriage, co-existing families, and blended families – and the list still goes on.

We should be moving in a direction that allows people to have the family and lifestyle they want. Our political leaders need to do better when it comes to being in touch, supporting and inspiring society into taking the big steps in life. Unfortunately, people are still being held back on how they want to live because they will suffer as a result.

Although we expect the number of retiree generations in families to rise, we might not be expecting the amount of people retiring to climb in decades to come, due to the inability to do so if there’s such a heavy reliance on older generations and need to give back to extended family members.

Cultures are different around the world; family priorities vary everywhere you go – but they shouldn’t be changing in a negative manner – nobody should be forced into situations they don’t want to be in.

It’s no secret that the UK government has a lot to fix. Unfortunately, many of them do not see the reality and struggle a large portion of the UK population are facing. We all have to maintain compassion no matter how tough it gets.


Thought for the week:

Focus on the solution, never the problem

Tips for becoming an A player:

When you rise, lift others with you

Value the difference in everyone

Give 100% in everything you do

Don’t live to gain

Never let ignorance take over


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