How the Nuclear Family Creates Social Isolation

The nuclear family is considered by many to be the normal or desired form of family structure, where there are two parents and their children. The isolated nuclear family is considered to be physically or emotionally isolated or distant from maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in the extended clan.

Sometimes, nuclear families isolate because they serve in the military, relocate for  school or to find optimal jobs, for life experience and personal preference for another place to live, or because the isolation is from dislike of home of origin, past trauma or other issues.

Sometimes, nuclear families isolate, but retain relationships of choice. In other words, they do not adhere to conventions that require maintaining constant and close relationships with extended families, but they have some close relationships that they maintain, visiting from time to time or staying in touch over the internet. In some cases, nuclear families can have more frequent interactions or closer relationships to second and third cousins than with their own parents or siblings. This may be because of physical proximity, age, or other reasons why they get along well with some and not with others.

The internet is one of the driving forces that brings isolated nuclear families back in touch with their extended families. But paternal and maternal grandparents are often the biggest attraction to those nuclear families who host or who travel to visit as frequently as they can, especially when the grandchildren are young and when the grandparents are aging to the point where there is concern for their well being and care.

As a result, traditional concepts and theories of nuclear family isolation are being challenged by the unique communication structures and multimedia capabilities of online relationships and communication. In other words, isolation is not as complete as it was when only written letters, which were slow to arrive, were the only way to communicate between great emotional and physical distances.

The nuclear family leads to the idea that parents should have complete freedom to run their homes and to raise their children as they please. This has been the most destructive force in society ever. Without the authority and inputs of the larger clan, more dysfunctional situations occur, with less external help or intervention than ever before. It is common for neighbors, grandparents and others to simply knuckle under to the conceit that parents have absolute authority and to turn a blind eye to the obvious warning signs of serious substance and child abuse, or worse misconduct in the home.

The nuclear family was always built with a firewall of resistance to traditional outside observation and intervention by the tribe or clan that is leading to the deaths of husbands, wives and children at the hands of someone who lived in the home.

Internal to a location, nuclear families have created isolation that, at one end of the spectrum, has led to horrific results. With child and spousal abuse and murder, drug and alcohol abuse, deviant or cult like religious activities, the use of home schooling to isolate or even to hide children from the community and from authorities, there have been horrific cases where people ask “why didn’t we know about this…they lived right next door!”

In many isolated nuclear family situations, there might be a lot of positive interaction and a high reputation with the larger community, but a “secret society” behind closed doors, where abuse and deviant lifestyles will go on. Neighbors and extended family can be kept so far away from the realities that go on that they have no hope of intervening or helping.

In other words, where the isolated nuclear family isolates because one or both parents are psychopaths or sociopaths, there is more likely to be great tragedy and harm. Where the nuclear family isolates for other reasons, dysfunctional behavior and lifestyles can develop because there is no one who is close or trusted enough to observe intimately and to have a say in helping to stop the progress of trouble. 

In many cases, the isolated nuclear family will replace or supplement biological family with another group who serve as the elders, close friends, school friends and a lifelong relationship with a particular community. Then, as biological family visits and interacts, they can be introduced to and become part of the community, too.

This brings up isolation when biological family comes to visit. With some families, there is a “vacation” from interacting with the community of residence while family members visit. This creates compartmentalization as a management tool of social isolation, where one social group is dealt with in isolation and separately from other social groups. In that way, there is a cutoff from discovering more from relatives than people will reveal about themselves. 

People may be close friends in the community, but may never have very much interaction relatives come to visit, except for brief introductions. 

In summary, nuclear family isolation can develop for many reasons that range from deadly dysfunction to life’s necessities and dreams. There are different types and levels of isolation. And there is also compartmentalization, where some nuclear families have separate interactions with many different groups of people who may never meet or get to know each other very well.