Explain the different variations of the nuclear family and the trends that occur in each.

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Historically, a "nuclear" family has been distinguished from an "extended family" by social scientists. Within this system of contrasts, the "nuclear" family was assumed to consist of a man, his wife, and their children, while an extended family might include grandparents, aunts, cousins, and other relatives. In developed nations, especially...

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Historically, a "nuclear" family has been distinguished from an "extended family" by social scientists. Within this system of contrasts, the "nuclear" family was assumed to consist of a man, his wife, and their children, while an extended family might include grandparents, aunts, cousins, and other relatives. In developed nations, especially of Europe and North America, the nuclear family living in single-family housing was often considered normative, although this was actually not typical over a broader historical and geographical range.

The family has evolved in the past few decades, though. First, with the rise of divorce, many families are now headed by a single parent. Some people may also decide to have children as individuals without partners. Next, the rise of LBGTQA rights has meant that nuclear families may consist of a gay couple with or without children. Also, couples may divorce and remarry, leading to what are called "blended families." The major trend of the twenty-first century is increasingly diverse models of the family.

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A nuclear family is defined as a couple and their dependent children. There are a number of variations of a family that still fit under this umbrella definition.

Married couple with biological children: This is the original definition of a nuclear family. The trend with this family is for one parent to be more focused on the children and one to be more focused on providing financially for the family—even though both parents work. This is becoming less of the norm, although it is still the most common.

Unmarried couple with biological children: In modern families, there is a trend for fewer married couples. This tends to lead to both parents being more career-focused because they consider themselves separate entities co-parenting to raise children.

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The Pew Research Center (see the source below) has documented changes in the American nuclear family. While 73% of children in 1960 were born to parents who were in their first marriage at the time of their child's birth, by 2014, only 46% of children were born to parents in their first marriage. In addition, single parenthood has become far more common. In 1960, 9% of children were born to single parents. This number climbed to 26% by 2014. While co-habiting (or unmarried) parents were not even counted in 1960, by 2014, 7% of children were born to co-habiting parents.

Therefore, there has been a steep decline in the nuclear family as a two-parent household and the rise of single-parent and other nontraditional forms of parenting. This result is in part because of the rise in divorce rates.

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The answer to this depends on what you mean by "variations." 

The nuclear family, as traditionally described, has a male and female partner who are married (or at least have legal ties to one another).

Three possible variations are as follows:

1) The female stays home to raise the children, while the male goes out to earn the income required to support the family financially. 

2) The male stays at home to raise the children, while the female goes out to earn the income required to support the family financially.

3) Both parents work, while other arrangements are made regarding the care of the children during the periods in which both parents are gone. 

As far as trends go,

1) The percentage of women staying at home as primary caregiver is on the decline, from around 43% in 1967 to 20% in 2012.

2) The number of men staying at home as primary caregiver is on the rise, going from 1.1 million in 1985 to 2 million in 2012.

3) The number of families which have both parents working has gone from about 31% in 1971 to 46% today. 

These trends are likely due to society's changing views on women in the workforce and the economic needs that come from stagnant wage growth.

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