nuclear family

(noun) Two parents (traditionally a male and female) and their children living apart from their extended family.

Example: The Obamas: Barrack and Michelle and their children Malia and Sasha or The Simpsons: Homer and Marge and their children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie

Audio Pronunciation: (nu·cle·ar fam·i·ly)

Download Audio Pronunciation: nuclear family.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: nuclear families
  • The definition of a nuclear family varies, some limit the term to only biological (consanguineal) children of a couple while others include stepchildren and adopted children as in a blended family.
  • An individual can be part of more than one nuclear family. For example, an individual can be a child in a family of orientation and a parent in a family of procreation.
  • Nuclear families are created in part due to primogeniture, or the tradition of inheritance going to the oldest male in the family.
  • A privatized nuclear family (also called isolated nuclear family) coined by Michael Young (1915–2002) and Peter Willmott (1923–2000) in The Symmetrical Family (1973), based on research in England refers to a nuclear family that is separated from any extended family and thus self-reliant.
  • A conjugal family is similar to a nuclear family, but a conjugal family does not require children.
  • Also called elementary family.
  • Nuclear family used in a sentence: The nuclear family fascinates sociologists and as the term provides a rich source for cross-cultural exploration.

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