Your Family

What is a family?

A mother, a father and a child? Well, you do need a mother and father to have the child, but is that the only kind of family?

What about a family which has one parent and a child, or children?

  • What about children who live with their grandparents?
  • What about children who are adopted into a family? They still have a mother and a father, but the family started in a different way.
  • What about children who live sometimes with mom and sometimes with dad?
  • What about children who live with mum and her female partner, or dad and his male partner?
  • What about children who live with aunties, uncles or older brothers and sisters?
  • What about children who live with foster parents?
  • What about stepbrothers and stepsisters and stepparents? Some children have 2 mothers and 2 fathers and 8 grandparents and goodness knows how many cousins!

These are all families because people, who all need food, warmth, clothing and shelter, live together and try to love



When you were very little, you and your parents communicated in lots of different ways.
You would:
* hug or touch each other
* play together
* smile and be pleased to see each other
* express your feelings easily to each other
* be together almost all the time and talk to each other

As you become older, communication seems to change. When you went off to kindergarten and then school, you spent less time together; you had other people to talk to, play with and learn from.

As you get older, you become less dependent on your parents and more dependent on yourself. That's how it should be. That's part of growing up.
But communication between you and your parents is not any less important. In fact, it becomes more important as you reach your puberty years.

Families are not perfect

Sometimes families can break up for a number of different reasons.

* Sometimes moms and dads decide not to live together any more.

* Sometimes parents divorce and then marry again, so that children will have a  step-mother or a step-father, or both.
* Nowadays there are more children than ever before who are living in step-families.

* A step-family is made when two adults marry or decide to be life partners, and one or both of them already has children.
* A stepmother or stepfather is a person who has stepped into the family, to help make a new family.


Sometimes one or both parents don't work outside the home because...

  • Sometimes there is no paid work for them to do.
  • Sometimes adults may not be well enough to work.
  • Sometimes adults may need to stay at home to look after a person in the family who is very sick, or has a disability and needs full-time care.
  • Sometimes one or both adults in a family have retired from work.
  • Sometimes adults may do paid work from home.
  • Sometimes it is a full-time unpaid job to look after the family and the home.

It isn't always as easy as you might think being grown up, especially if you are also a parent. Being a parent means that you are responsible for providing food, warmth and shelter, love and caring for your family. Providing these things takes time, work and money.

Parents are people too

Your parents chose to have children, but remember that your parents are not just your parents. They have other roles too. You need to check out that it's OK before you make any arrangement with friends or teams. Parents deserve some 'time-out' too! So, be respectful of whoever is looking after you when your parents are out. If you act like 'the kid from hell', it could be really hard for them to find a babysitter next time, and that wouldn't be fair.



Everywhere has rules. You have grown up with lots of rules around the house, and as you get older there may be more rules. These rules are for the benefit of everyone living in the house, for their safety and comfort.

As you get older you may want to make some changes. Make a time to talk to your parents if you don't already have a regular time (like when you are in bed, or when you are eating together).
You may want to talk about:

*rules about privacy and everyone's own space
*rules about going out with friends
*rules about laundry, snacks and homework
*rules about the computer and when you can use the Internet


When rules are broken there are always consequences. Part of growing up is learning that whatever you do has an effect on others.


What kids say
  •  "I think parents should learn to trust their kids and let them do stuff on their own. If they never give them any freedom then they will never learn to be independent."
  • "It's up to parents and kids to trust each other. Sometimes parents say you should always do something, and then they don't."
  • "Sometimes parents should try and see things from their kid's point of view. I want my parents to realize that I'm growing up and I want to be more independent. If they don't tell me what to pack every morning then I won't forget anything because I've been packing and unpacking my schoolbag for 7 years!"
  • "When I go out somewhere with my friends I know what I'm doing. We're not going to follow some dodgy guy into his car. We're not that stupid!"
  • "My friend seems to get to do more than me. I know my parents worry about me but I feel like they think I'm still a little kid."
  • "I guess it's important to be honest with parents. If you don't tell lies you can't be found out. If your parents know that you always tell the truth, they will give you more freedom because they will think that you can be trusted to do the right thing."

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