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Family Roles

by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff


Within families there are certain roles that need to be taken and filled by family members. In the book Normal Family Processes the author explains that family roles are the “recurrent patterns of behavior” that different family members use to fulfill family functions and roles. Researchers agree that if a family establishes clear family member roles they are better able to deal with day-to-day issues and normal changes as well as unforeseen events.

Every family member has five major roles that must be filled in order for a family to function effectively.

  • Physical resources like money, food, clothing, and shelter must be provided.
  • Family members need to be nurtured and supported
  • Children need to be taught life skills. This refers to the emotional, physical, educational, and social development of children.
  • The family needs to be maintained, this includes day-to-day tasks, discipline, decision-making, and other tasks.
  • A marriage where the sexual needs of both partners is met.
As a couple parents can decide how the different roles will be allocated. Typically fathers can earn more money and take on most of the responsibility for the first role. Mothers are often better at nurturing and making sure that emotional needs are met. Although both parents need to make sure that they are meeting the emotional needs of their spouse. Both parents should also be actively engaged in teaching their children life skills. The maintenance of the family can be divided up so that no one member feels overburdened.

Dr. Peterson of Virginal Tech suggests some ways that families can establish and maintain healthy roles.

“Roles should be clearly identifiable.” Everyone must know what his or her roles in the family are. For example I am responsible for making sure that my children get off to school every morning. I also cook dinner, maintain the house, and manage our finances. My husband is the main breadwinner. He helps do the dishes, takes out the trash, and vacuums. Because we both know our family roles things run smoother.

“Families must allocate roles fairly.” When I started working from my home we had to reallocate some of our roles. My husband had to take on more responsibility for our home and children because I was working as well.

Family members must fulfill their responsibilities. Whenever family members do not fulfill their roles the burden falls upon another family members. This creates additional stress and discord.

Establishing and fulfilling family member roles helps ensure that family life will run smoothly and all members will be happy and satisfied.