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There are three major types of family, they are:

  1. Nuclear 
  2. Extended
  3. Compound

1. Nuclear Family: 

This type of family is made up of a man (the husband), his wife or wives, and their children. There is usually a high degree of intimacy among the members. A nuclear family can also be referred to as a simple, biological or immediate family. Tradition and the form of marriage are factors that can determine the size of a nuclear family.

For example in Africa, some cultures permit the man to marry as many wives as he wants

The Nuclear Family
Nuclear Family.

There are two types of Nuclear Family, they are:

  • Monogamous Nuclear Family
  • Polygamous Nuclear Family

Monogamous Nuclear Family: This consists of one man (the husband), his wife and their children. It is common with the Christian religion and Western culture.

Polygamous Nuclear Family: This consists of a man (the husband), his two or more wives and their children. This type of family is common in the Islamic religion.

2. Extended Family: 

This is a larger family group that consists of the husband, his wife (or wives), their children, and all other family relations, that is, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, stepbrothers and/or sisters, etc. The members of an Extended family are related by blood, marriage or adoption. They may or may not live together.

Extended Family
Extended Family.

3. Compound Family: 

Here, members of an Extended Family stay together, in a compound, but have their separate apartments or units where they live. This type of family is common in our African culture.

Compound Family

How a Family can be Formed:

A family (whether nuclear or extended) can be formed in two ways, they are:

  • Natal Family
  • Conjugal Family

a. Natal Family: This is a family that an individual is born into, that is, the family where we find ourselves as children.

b. Conjugal Family: This is a family that is formed through marriage. That is, when a man and woman decide to come together as husband and wife, a conjugal family is formed. It is a nuclear family that may consist of a married couple and their children (by birth or adoption).


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