Benjamín and Laura with their son Aitor and Laura's daughter Daniella. Benjamín also has a son, Darío, who lives with his mother. / MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ

Future challenges for families: manage tensions and be careful about planning when to have children

Modern families have to deal with different problems from those of 40 years ago


The way families have evolved in the past 40 years reflects a new social reality which differs from the traditional model: families are more diversified, the birthrate is falling and life expectancy is rising.

From the point of view of family as an institution, sociologist Elisa Chuliá does not foresee major changes from now on.

"I can't see any reason for the situation to go back to marriage being considered the only option," she said. So what will happen now?

In her opinion, families are going to have to continue resolving situations such as the break-up of relationships and tensions among new families which affect intergenerational relations.

These are questions that families seem to have been able to handle so far. "From an institutional point of view there has been a certain weakening, but from a social aspect the family has not been harmed because it continues to fulfil its functions very well despite the changes," she explained.

On the other hand, in the context of current contingencies which governments are having to face - the coronavirus crisis, rise in fuel costs and the war in Ukraine, for example - Chuliá warns that families could find themselves having to take responsibility for the care of elderly relatives again.

"There are already cases of families with four or even five generations at a time. I believe these inter-generational relationships have to be strengthened. The State only goes as far as it can go," she said.

She is also concerned about the risk of reproduction being neglected and the possibilities for young people. "The reproductive capacity of a country is vital, because its very existence depends on it," she explained.