Defining the Term “Family”

I define a “family” as the people whom you love and who love you.  This may include relatives, friends, community members, or others in your circle of life.  Most of us have a friend we are closer to than with many of our relatives.  Shouldn’t they count as family?  Absolutely!

A family is no longer defined only by the term “nuclear”, consisting of a married man and woman raising their children.  Your family may consist of a single parent (perhaps due to separation, divorce, or a death), the addition of a stepparent (and perhaps their children, creating a blended family), grandparents or another family member raising the child, gay or lesbian parents, and adoptive families.  Consider these facts from the United States Census Bureau:[1]

  • There are 73.5 million children under the age of eighteen in the United States.  Two-thirds of these (68%, less than fifty million) live in a family with two married parents.
  • About one in four kids lives in a household with a single female parent, and about one in fourteen children lives in a household with a single male parent.
  • Almost one in ten kids (9%) lives with their grandparents or other relatives.
  • About 2% of children live in foster homes or with unrelated caregivers.
  • Almost 7% live with one of their parents and an unrelated and unmarried partner.
  • In the United States, gay and lesbian parents are raising four percent of all adopted children and three percent of all foster children.[1]


[1] Census data from the 2006-2008 American Community Survey was accessed from the American Fact Finder web site ( on October 6, 2010.  By 2008, the Census Bureau estimated that by the end of 2008 there would be 73.5 million children under the age of eighteen living in United States households.  Almost 50 million of these children would live in a family consisting of a married couple; 5 million of these families have a single male head of household, and 18 million have a single female head of household.  A further breakdown showed that 89.2% consist of biological, adopted, or stepchildren, 6.5% consist of grandchildren, 2.6% are other relatives, and 1.8% are foster or unrelated children.  6.6% of children live in the presence of other adults in addition to their parent (these other adults are unmarried partners or other unrelated heads of households.  Of these unmarried couples, 4.8% were of the opposite sex, and less than 1% were of the same-sex.

[1] Gates, G., Badgett, M., Macomber, J., & Chambers, K. “Adoption and Foster Care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States”. March 2007. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, in partnership with The Urban Institute.​FinalAdoptionReport.pdf accessed October 22, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *