The Structural Family Theory


Overtime, sociologists have explained family structures that havedominated certain ages. One of the most consistent factors in thesedescriptions is that various members of the family assumeresponsibilities. For instance, in many family structures, thefathers are considered to be the heads of family, while the mothersare helpers in providing and taking care of the children (Gladding,2002). However, overt time, there has been a change in the way thatfamilies are organized. Using the structural family theory,sociologists and experts in family matters are of the opinion thatthe family structure has substantially changed.

Salvador Minuchin developed the structural family therapy. Throughits theoretical formulation, the underlying aim of the therapy is toprovide a blueprint for analyzing the process of family interaction(Gladding, 2002). This blueprint defines the relationship existingbetween members of the family. According to the theory, a typicalfamily is distinguished by their functional structure, and notabsence of problems among them. For them to give room for positiveaccommodation, the family members have to diffuse existing boundariesand know how to handle different personalities that come together toform the unit. Additionally, the family system has to be flexibleenough to accommodate continuity, and in doing so, do away withpossible dysfunctions.

Overthe years, traditional family roles have changed significantly.According to Gladding (2002), the traditional family structure ofmost communities assigned an authoritative power to the father, andsupporting role for the mothers. However, in the modern times, familyroles, especially in blended families, has significantly changed.Modern blended families present unique challenges. For instance, thechildren may resist the change, especially if the new family does notfunction like the old family. In the modern family, the mothers playa significant role in unifying the family, for instance, by acting asthe bridging gap between the children and the fathers. However,Gladding (2002) argues that the fathers also play a significant role,which is ensuring that the family is well provided for and that itremains united.

Thereare some impacts of the changes in the family structure in the moderntimes. For instance, in the past, many ex-partners did not activelytake part in ensuring well-being of their children. This means thatsome children in blended families would grow without the mental andmaterial support of either the mother of the father. However, withthe new changes influenced by law, both biological parents handletheir children’s welfare, even if they are separated (Gladding,2002). Additionally, members of the blended family often get incontact with their partners’ previous family members, in efforts tosolidify relationships.

Overtime, there have been theoretical perspectives that have dominatedthe study of family structures. Despite the rigidity of theassumptions of these perspectives, sociologists agree that the familystructure has changed significantly. Modern theorists are of the ideathat family roles in the modern society have changed to fit in thechanging perspectives of the contributions by different familymembers. In the past, the male members of the family hadauthoritative roles in the family, while the female members mainlysubordinate. However, the modern family structure is not limited interms of family roles, as the members have an almost equalresponsibility in the unit.


Gladding, S.T. (2002).&nbspFamilytherapy: History, theory, and practice.Merrill.