The Urbanised Nuclear Family: A New Mentality and Behaviour

July 6, 2023

Urban and industrial society, in turn, is not guided by coherent and stable principles. Everything is unstable, conflicting, competitive, and aggressive. There is no place for the traditional family.

This brought the advent of the nuclear family made up of parents and one or two children where affectionate understanding and mutual communication between generations is increasingly difficult. Children and parents can no longer count on intermediaries to ease their reciprocal difficulties, and television strongly contributes to accentuate this lack of communication and comprehension. Children no longer have a precise idea of why they were born and do not guide their professional and social lives according to their parents.

They rather look outside the family walls to their companions hoping that there they may find the freedom and understanding they do not find within the family. Furthermore, being confined to small homes accentuates the awkward situations and misunderstandings of the modern nuclear family within itself. It also constitutes a further psychological tension for children and adolescents who, in spite of the difficulties they feel in relation to their parents, still wish to see the home as a place of refuge against the aggressions of modern life.

The nuclear family is essentially a product of urbanisation that not only transforms the material conditions of life, but people’s mentality and behaviour as well.

Once again, Paul Landis, in his book Adolescence and Youth: The Process of Maturing, points out:

Urbanization is significant not only because it increases the density of population but because it changes the entire tone of the social aggregate. People behave quite differently when thrown together in large aggregates with little geographical space between them and when isolated in families or in small neighborhood groups. The problem of child rearing, of economic adjustment, of morals, religion, marriage, and family,… become new with this major modification in the life pattern of a people.19

When people live in rural areas in traditional families, they tend to adopt stricter and more conservative moral rules of behaviour. Moving to an urban area and living within a nuclear family leads them to acquire customs that are much more liberal or even completely licentious. Antonio Cándido, a Brazilian university professor and writer explains:

Urbanisation is a decisive factor in the evolution of the family. This became more noticeable during the 19th century when the rural elite started to move to the cities,…as a result of the increasing success of industrialisation.… There was a definite tendency that favoured the rapid transformation of what remained of patriarchal society. Consequently, the following characteristics appeared: equality of status between man and woman; increasing participation of women in the workforce; increase in birth control; increase in the number of divorces and prolonged separations; lessening of paternal authority resulting in a levelling within the family itself; weakening of family links resulting in a change from the extended family to a conjugal group.20


19. Paul H. Landis, op. cit., p. 72
20. Antonio Cándido, A estrutura da escola, “Educação e Ciências Sociais”, 1956, 1, no. 2, pp. 139- 172, in Samuel Pfromm Neto, Psicologia da Adolescência, Livraria Pioneira Ed., 7ª. Ed., São Paulo, 1979, pp. 226-227.

The Christian Institution of the Family: A Dynamic Force to Regenerate Society, by Tradition, Family, Property Association. Part II, Chapter 2, Pgs. 100-103.


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