In the 50s and 60s, the ideal image of a family in Germany was quite simple: a large community, and consequently three, sometimes even four generations under one roof. Since then, the importance of the family in society has not changed, but it is no longer so obviously anchored in contemporary lifestyles. The birth rate is falling, and marriages or marriage-like relationships are becoming more unstable.
The classic family cycle
hat we write here sounds, admittedly, like a lot after the 50s and 60s, the “Golden Age of Marriage,” because the classical development of a family consisted of transitioning from a couple’s getting to know each other and loving each other to the so-called family cycle, an ongoing social structure that existed for a long time: Getting married, having children—one, two, or even three—in order to simultaneously force oneself into the corset of social norms. Educating children, pushing children out of the nest, accepting their choice of partner in order to live one’s own life again, until finally, to put it casually, giving up the ghost.
After an accepted choice of partner, interaction with one’s own children is usually limited, because there are grandchildren, and at this point, the children are starting their own family cycle. Like a Ferris wheel that stops from time to time to take new passengers on board. Up and down, and round and round, without exits to the left or right.
Away with the family cycle: Give me the world as I like it!
Unlike before, today we find ourselves more often alone, experiencing long periods of loneliness. We try out a lot, whether meaningful or not, and, without committing ourselves, live in temporary relationships; each somehow always for himself. Many people like it; they have no desire to have children, whereas others seem to miss the right option. Far too often we have conversations with our parents, who constantly tell us there’s a lid for every pot. Some move out of their parents’ only to move back in again, and for others marriage is unthinkable. There are many more ways of life which we encounter today, and if we decide to live together, it doesn’t necessarily have to be forever, even when kids are involved.
Women have the same right to a career as do men, which in 2019 must really be considered normal. Nevertheless, the break-up of traditional family planning makes it quite difficult because it jeopardizes precisely these demands of both parties in the relationship.
New family cycles versus extended families
The family is still regarded as the ideal image in our society, but the factors mentioned above have influenced its attractiveness. In addition, there are very different types of CVs, of which the traditional family cycle is only one model among others.
All this does not lead directly to the extinction of the family as the highest of all institutions, but at least the extended family seems to have had its day and is now sitting in the attic, gathering dust. Today the fertility rate (though the thought of rationalizing the miracle of life with this word causes us, admittedly, discomfort) is about 1.5 births per woman, whereas an extended family is considered to be at least two or three offspring. In addition, of course, there is your own mother, who you also take care of. We are currently considering who in our social circle still lives within such structures. If you are honest, no one does.
The interplay between generations under one roof had a wonderful atmosphere. Just recently we wrote about the love that connects grandparents and grandchildren. To remind all of us how wonderful it can be to have everyone together, Maya Claussen has chosen the theme “extended family” for her latest production. For this she has cast a mother and her four children. So this is about a real-life family with the addition of Maya’s own family members to create the corresponding extended family flair. Since everyone knew each other, the shoot was very familiar (how could it be otherwise). Maya has integrated the constant favorite of digitalization in the form of chic VR glasses—much to the amusement of everyone involved, as can be seen in the pictures. And honestly, when looking at these pictures, here we are again, somehow looking forward to Christmas because then, at the latest, we have them all under one roof again: all our loved ones.