Multiple definitions of family exist depending on the theoretical orientation of which it is being explained. Interactionist defines family in terms of interacting personalities with emphasis on the family's transactional characteristics (Friedman, 2003). Family is defined according to the general systems theory as a small open social system composed of a set of highly interdependent parts and affected by both its internal structure and external environment. Redefinition of the family occurs with succeeding generations according to the postmodernist view. U.S. Bureau of the Census uses a traditional but limited definition of the family. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census family is composed of persons joined together by bonds of marriage, blood, or adoption and residing in the same household.
The text, Family Nursing: Research, Theory and Practice, defines family as two or more persons who are joined together by bonds of sharing and emotional closeness and who identify themselves as being part of the family.
This is the most conclusive definition of family which includes a variety of families including those outside the legal system, not related by blood, marriage, or adoption and not restricted to household membership. This definition includes the extended family living in two or more households, cohabiting couples, childless families, gay and lesbian families, and single-parent and nuclear families.
Nuclear or conjugal family is the family of marriage, parenthood, or procreation; it is composed of a husband, wife, and their immediate children; natural, adopted, or both. Family of orientation or family of origin is the family unit into which a person is born. The extended family is the nuclear family and other blood related persons, who are most commonly members from the family of orientation of one of the nuclear family mates. These are "kin" and may include grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and...