Types of Family Structures

Family structures come in various shapes and sizes, but each one is just as valid as the next. Understanding family structure can better help to figure out the dynamics of relatives and how to make relationships developmentally appropriate. 

Common Family Types

Family types have changed over the years in accordance with shifts in modern cultures’ acceptance of structural changes. Love To Know explains that there are six types of family structures that are considered common. It is important to note that this article stresses the idea that one type of family structure is not placed above another. These structures include: 

  • Nuclear families
  • Single-parent families
  • Extended families
  • Childless families
  • Stepfamilies
  • Grandparent families

More detailed descriptions of these family structures are available on the Love to Know website.

Changes in Family Structure

As evidenced by the different types above, trends in family structures have changed in different ways over the years. One of these large changes has become the retreat of marriage and shift towards cohabitation between partners (Lundberg & Sterns, 2016). Again, the research does not put this family above or below others, but some effects are unavoidable and being studied. With this, here are some resources on ways to increase success in cohabiting with a partner:

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

Request free printed materials from our Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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