Why is having a family seen as a privilege?
Family is defined as a group of persons united by marriage, blood, or adoption ties. In its simplest form, they make up a single household and interact in their respective social roles, usually spouses, parents, children, and siblings. The most common definition of a typical family is often referred to as a ‘nuclear’ family, that is comprised of two married parents of opposite genders living with their biological or adopted children. That said, families vary in their structure and there is no ‘right’ kind of family. In essence, a family is a support system which some people find through a ‘chosen’ family.

Why is family seen as a privilege?

There are certain privileges based on family structure. For example, those belonging to a traditional family unit can avail themselves of greater legal and social advantages in many countries.

There is also family privilege that stems from the support system a family offers.When family setting provides a sense of belonging, safety, stability and a loving and affectionate environment, those within the family unit will more likely benefit from positive effects on their growth and development, social acceptance, emotional regulation and economic support. The culmination of these can contribute to more successful life outcomes.

What is your Privilege

  • My family has provided me with a healthy, stable and safe environment.
  • I have formed my values, a sense of home and belonging thanks to my family.
  • I can turn to my family for economic and emotional support and guidance when I need it.

Stats Don’t Lie 

  • Traditional family units are changing. In 2021, about 41% of all children were born to single mothers in the US. In the 1960s this figure was just 5% (Minullina, 2018)
  • Children from dysfunctional families have been shown to be more likely to be diagnosed with mental illness such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD in their adult lives (Minullina, 2018)
  • Harvard’s longest study of adult life shows that good family relationships are a factor in keeping us happier and healthier. (Harvard Medical School, 2015)

What to do next?

Recognise your own biases when talking about parents, families or even households. In your professional undertakings, always allow for a range of family backgrounds and structures, build in options and offer these openly. If you’re interested in starting a journey to strive for greater inclusion, join The Privilege Project today.

Watch the recorded session on Weight privilege from our September event.