The standard family nowadays is no more the typical German nuclear family of mother, father and 1 ½ children plus a cat or a dog. There are many other types of families like the step-family which is known as the “patchwork family” by the Germans, the old extended family might still be encountered in the countryside, the lone or single-parent family of usually a mother with one or two children. Modern families of a couple of the same sex with an adoptive child from India or Africa are emerging.

In German all words that refer to the nuclear family are of Germanic origin compare:
Mutter – Vater (Mother – father)
Schwester – Bruder (sister – bother)
Tochter – Sohn (daughter – son)

The first step of family degradation started with members outside the nuclear family. You don’t see any more Germanic words like Base “father’s sister” or Oheim “mother’s brother. These words are now dated. The extended family is degraded to one word of Romance origin. “Uncle” refers to both mother’s and father’s brother. Accordingly “aunt” refers to mother’s or father’s sister. The other members of the extended family are all of Romance origin as well: Nichte “niece”, Neffe “nephew, Kusin(e) cousin.

The second degradation has already started with the high divorce rate and the statistics saying that lone families of a mother with one or two children have already replaced the nuclear families as standard families. Father’s role in the family has weakened dramatically or come to an end or been degraded to making subsistence payments on a monthly basis after divorce or separation.

The third step of dealing the last blow to the German family can be predicted when German men lose their potency due to environmental pollution and more chemicals in food or become superfluous when German women take over, more test-tube babies are born or surrogate mothers are at work.

Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
Bremen – Germany