What Constitutes a Family Unit? Maybe Not What We Thought!
By Richard Gottlieb, Global Toy News
There is a brilliant article in the March 2020 Atlantic by David Brooks entitled, "The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake." Mr. Brooks makes the case that the nuclear family, a recent concept, has come under immense stress resulting in stressed-out families, broken parents, and damaged children.
The nuclear family, as we have come to know it, consists of two parents and 1.93 children (the American average). Brooks tells us that people used to live in clans and tribes. In those arrangements, the family consisted of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and even friends. These expansive family units were highly nurturing but restrictive for the individual. The larger group demanded conformity and those who did not conform could be forced out.
... Brooks notes that we are seeing a return to more extensive, mutually supportive groups as children in their 30's continue to stay at home, and grandparents move in with their children. He also points out that there are more shared housing arrangements in which everyone pitches in to take care of each other's families.
As I read this, I thought of the Savvy Auntie, Melanie Notkin, and her work to help childless aunts be a respected and embraced member of the larger family unit. There is a lot of good that can happen for society in moving beyond the nuclear family and toward a way of life that supports men and women as they work to provide stable homes and fulfilling lives.
Those of us who market to families and children must keep an eye on the notion of what constitutes a family. Perhaps we are not spreading a broad enough net as we create and sell toys to a family unit that is broader and more complex than we have experienced in our lifetimes.