An extended family is a family that extends beyond the nuclear family, consisting of parents like father, mother, and their children, aunts, uncles,grandparents and cousins, all living in the same household.
In a stem family, a type of extended family, first presented by Frederic Le Play, parents will live with one child and his or her spouse, as well as the children of both, while other children will leave the house or remain in it unmarried. The stem family is sometimes associated with inegalitarian inheritance practices, as in Japan and Korea, but the term has also been used in some contexts to describe a family type where parents live with a married child and his or her spouse and children, but the transfer of land and moveable property is more or less egalitarian, as in the case of traditional Romania, northeastern Thailand or Mesoamerican indigenous peoples. In these cases, the child who cares for the parents usually receives the house in addition to his or her own share of land and moveable property.
It has often been presumed that extended family groups sharing a single household enjoy certain advantages, such as a greater sense of security and belonging due to sharing a wider pool of members to serve as resources during a crisis, and more role models to help perpetuate desired behavior and cultural values. However, even in cultures in which adults are expected to leave home after marriage to begin their own nuclear-based households, the extended family often forms an important support network offering similar advantages. Particularly in working-class communities, grown children tend to establish their own households within the same general area as their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. These extended family members tend to gather often for family events and to feel responsible for helping and supporting one another, both emotionally and financially.
Particularly in the case of single-parent households, it can be helpful for extended family members to share a single household in order to share the burden of meeting expenses. On the other hand, sharing a household can present a disadvantage depending on the sizes and number of families involved, particularly when only a few members shoulder most of the responsibility to meet expenses for the family's basic needs.
Australian Aborigines are another group for whom the concept of family extends well beyond the nuclear model. Aboriginal immediate families include aunts, uncles and a number of other relatives who would be considered "distant relations" in the context of the nuclear family. Aboriginal families have strict social rules regarding whom they can marry. Their family structure incorporates a shared responsibility for all tasks.
Historically, for generations South Asia had a prevailing tradition of the joint family system or undivided family. Joint family system is an extended family arrangement prevalent throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India, consisting of many generations living in the same home, all bound by the common relationship. A patrilineal joint family consists of an older man and his wife, his sons and unmarried daughters, his sons’ wives and children. The family is headed by a patriarch, usually the oldest male, who makes decisions on economic and social matters on behalf of the entire family. The patriarch's wife generally exerts control over the household, minor religious practices and often wields considerable influence in domestic matters. Family income flows into a common pool, from which resources are drawn to meet the needs of all members, which are regulated by the heads of the family.
Mexican society is composed of three-generational units consisting of grandparents, children and grandchildren. Further close relationships are maintained with the progenitors of these families and are known as kin or "cousins" When one is born they are born into two extended families, a kinship group of sometimes 70 people. The group traditionally acts as a cohesive unit pooling resources and influence. The extended family also consists of spouses and siblings. This is in contrast to the two generational American nuclear family.
The number of multigenerational households has been steadily rising because of the economic hardships people are experiencing today. According to the AARP, multigenerational households have increased from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2008."There's no question that with some ethnicities that are growing in America, it is more mainstream and traditional to have multigenerational households. We're going to see that increasing in the general population as well," says AARP's Ginzler. While high unemployment and housing foreclosures of the recession have played a key role in the trend, Pew Research Center exec VP and co-author of its multigenerational household study Paul Taylor said it has been growing over several decades, fueled by demographic and cultural shifts such as the rising number of immigrants and the rising average age of young-adult marriages. The importance of an extended family is one that many people may not realize, but having a support system and many forms of income may help people today because of the difficulties in finding a job and bringing in enough money.