Sunday 1 July 2007

Modern British Families (BBC)

Modern British Families

Mother and kids

Listen Listen to the story

Father leaves for work in the morning after breakfast. The two children take the bus to school, and mother stays at home cooking and cleaning until father and the kids return home in the evening. This is the traditional picture of a happy family living in Britain. But is it true today? The answer is - no! The past 20 years have seen enormous changes in the lives and structures of families in Britain, and the traditional model is no longer true in many cases.

The biggest change has been caused by divorce. As many as 2 out of 3 marriages now end in divorce, leading to a situation where many children live with one parent and only see the other at weekends or holidays.

There has also been a huge rise in the number of mothers who work. The large rise in divorces has meant many women need to work to support themselves and their children. Even when there is no divorce, many families need both parents to work in order to survive. This has caused an increase in childcare facilities, though they are very expensive and can be difficult to find in many areas. In addition, women are no longer happy to stay at home raising children, and many have careers earning as much as or even more than men, the traditional breadwinners.

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of single mothers, particularly among teenagers. Many of their children grow up never knowing their fathers, and some people feel the lack of a male role model has a damaging effect on their lives.

However, these changes have not had a totally negative effect. For women, it is now much easier to have a career and good salary. Although it is difficult to be a working mother, it has become normal and it's no longer seen as a bad thing for the children. As for children themselves, some argue that modern children grow up to be more independent and mature than in the past. From an early age they have to go to childminders or nurseries, and so they are used to dealing with strangers and mixing with other children.

So while the traditional model of a family may no longer be true in modern Britain, the modern family continues to raise happy, successful children.


when a marriage ends and the former husband and wife separate from one another

a huge rise
a very big increase/growth (opposite to fall/decrease/decline)

to support
here, to provide with a home and the necessities of life

childcare facilities
special institutions whose job is to look after children while parents are working

bringing up and educating

a breadwinner is the person who earns the most money in their family

here, big and happening over a short period of time

single mothers
women who raise their children by themselves because they live separately from the children's fathers

if there is a lack of something, there is not enough of it

male role model
a man who thinks and acts in the way that is traditionally perceived as being typical of men

places equipped for looking after very young children

dealing with
managing, doing what is necessary to achieve the result you want

mixing with
socialising, living together with, joining

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