Currently popular are definitions of family based on what they do rather than who comprises them.  These definitions reflect a desire to include groups that do not fit the traditional man-woman-child model.  These definitions are most suited to the study of the interrelationships of individuals and families in this course.

The Vanier Institute of the Family, a Canadian organization founded in 1965 to conduct research on the family, uses the following broader definition to reflect the diversity of families in Canada

Family is defined as any combination of two or more persons who are bound together over time by ties of mutual consent, birth, and/or adoption/placement and who, together, assume responsibilities for variant combinations of some of the following:

  • physical maintenance and care of group members;
  • addition of new members through procreation or adoption;
  • socialization of children;
  • social control of members;
  • production, consumption, and distribution of goods and materials;
  • affective nurturance – love
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "A Working Definition of Family," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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