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Text 3. Changes in Family Life
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Task 13. Read and translate the text, discuss the problems.
The English are a nation of stay-at-home. “There is no place like home,” they say. And when the man is not working he is at home in the company of his wife and children and busies himself with the affairs of the home. “The Englishman’s home is his castle,” is a saying known all over the world. And it is true.
A “typical” British family used to consist of mother, father and two children, but in recent years there have been many changes in family life. Some of these have been caused by new laws and others are the result of changes in society. For example, since the law made it easier to get a divorce1, the number of divorces has increased. In fact one marriage in every three now ends in divorce. This means that there are a lot of one-parent families. Society is now more tolerant than it used to be of unmarried people, unmarried couples and single parents.
Another change has been caused by the fact that people are living longer nowadays, and many old people live alone following the death of their partners. As a result of these changes in the pattern of people’s lives, there are many households2 which consist of only one person or one person and children.
However, the majority of divorced people marry again, and they sometimes take responsibility for a second family.
Members of a family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – keep in touch, but they see less of each other than they used to. This is because people often move away from their home town to work, and so the family becomes scattered. Christmas is the traditional season for reunions. Relatives often travel many miles in order to spend the holiday together.
In general, each generation is keen to become independent of parents in establishing its own family unit.
Relationships within the family are different now. Parents treat their children more as equals than they used to, and children have more freedom to make their own decisions. The father is more involved3 with bringing up4 children, often because the mother goes out to work. Increased leisure facilities5 and more money mean that there are greater opportunities outside the home. Although the family holiday is still an important part of family life many children have holidays away from their parents, often with a school party or other organized group.
Who looks after the older generation? There are about 10 million old-age pensioners in Britain, of whom about 750,000 cannot live entirely independently. The government gives financial help in the form of a pension but in the future it will be more and more difficult for the nation economy to support the increasing number of elderly. At the present time, more than half of all old people are looked after at home. Many others live in Old Peoples’ Homes, which may be private or state owned.
1 divorce – развод, расторжение брака; 2 household – семья
3 involve – впутывать, вовлекать; 4 bring up – вскармливать, воспитывать; 5 leisure facilities – возможности (льготы, условия) для отдыха
(from Сатинова В.Ф. Британия и британцы. – Мн.: Выш. шк., 2004. – 334 с.)
Task 14. Answer the questions, solve the problems, do the tasks.
1. How do you understand the saying “The English’s home is his castle”?
2. What is a “typical” British family? How many persons does it usually contain? Do all of them live together?
3. Are there any changes in family life nowadays and why?
4. Is divorce actual nowadays? What can be done to escape divorce?
5. May divorced people marry again? Should they take responsibility for a second family? And what about the first?
6. What are relationships between the members of the family? Does the family become scattered?
7. Is it a good tradition for a British family to get together on Christmas and other occasions? Do you always like to be with your parents and other relatives?
8. What are relationships within the family? Are they different now? What are the status of the father and the status of the mother?
9. Do parents and children have holidays together or separately?
10. Who usually takes care about old-age pensioners in Britain? And in your country?
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