Virtual Kollage: The advantages and disadvantages of an extended family system

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The advantages and disadvantages of an extended family system


Interesting, Village, Cultural, African
THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF AN EXTENDED FAMILY
Definition
An extended family can be defined as that type of family in which there are fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, and cousins. In fact, in an extended family, one can find a number of nuclear families. An extended family goes beyond just a father, mother and children. In some extreme cases, the number of members in an extended family can run into hundreds and a small community could be made up of first, second and many distant cousins.

ADVANTAGES OF EXTENDED FAMILY
Source of security for members
One of the advantages of an extended family system is the kind of security it offers to the members of the family. The adage that there is protection in numbers comes to play in a situation like this. In an extended family for example, members believe that they have people on whom they can count on in times of trouble and even in good times. One of the occasions on which numbers count is during funerals or weddings. On occasions like this, the bereaved family or the couple has people to help in organizing the occasion to ensure it succeeds.

It engenders unity in the society
Another advantage of the extended family system is the way it brings about unity in the entire community by virtue of unity in the family. The blood relationship that exists among all the cousins, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers etc., brings about peace and this peace leads to unity that extends into the larger society.

Support from family members
It has also been observed that in times of financial or emotional crisis, the members of the family are able to secure help from wealthier and older family members. A boy qualifies for the university but the biological father cannot pay the fees. An uncle could volunteer to sponsor the education of that person. A sister is about to get married and all the brothers and cousins come together to offer help both financially and in kind. A man could die leaving the children with no inheritance or support. The uncles and aunties could take over and raise the children on behalf of the deceased brother. This cannot be found in a nuclear family system.

Socialization is accomplished by more people
An an extended family, the children are brought up not only by the biological parents but also by other older members of the family such as aunties and uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers. One benefit of this way of raising children is that the children are brought up to fit into the larger community or society. The tendency toward waywardness is drastically reduced.

Interesting, Village, Cultural, African
THE DISADVANTAGES OF AN EXTENDED FAMILY
Some family members become lazy
One of the disadvantages of the extended family system is that some members tend to exhibit lazy attitudes towards life. Some members think that since uncles and aunties are there to give support, they can sit down and do no work. Some are eager to inherit their uncles and sometimes even wish them dead before their time is due.

Struggle over who inherits what                                                                                               
Another disadvantage of an extended family system is that quarrels result after the death of a member concerning who gets what part of his or her estate. While a rich member is still alive, some family members begin to target particular properties of theirs to get hold of when they eventually die. This does not auger well for the unity of the family.

Interference in marriages and other relationships
Also the extended family system is such that sometimes people have to live together in family houses. Consequently, people have the opportunity to pass comments on the good or bad behaviours of other members. This may sometimes lead to quarrels. There is also open interference in the marriages of couples living within the family compound. Some are openly encouraged to get a divorce. This may affect negatively a marriage that could otherwise have been successful.

Kliptown, Soweto, South Africa, African
There is too much burden on few individuals
In an extended family system, there is always an unwritten code that the well to do must take care of the less fortunate. It is almost a crime for a rich member of the family to refuse to help another member of the family. This puts a lot of financial pressure on the rich members of the family. It sometimes even leads some family members to engage in corrupt practices in order to be able to continue to support their own.

Misplaced leadership roles
Last but not least, in an extended family system, leadership can sometimes be determined by how deep a person’s pocket is. Some members are influenced by the largess they get from a rich member and therefore are wont to accord that rich member more respect that the natural leaders of the family.

ALSO READ:
The major functions of a family
The advantages and disadvantages of a nuclear family system

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