IELTS Writing: some ideas about the “family” topics


Here is the most recent IELTS writing question:

In many countries today, people in cities either live alone or in small family units, rather than in large, extended family groups. Is this a positive or negative trend? 

When you are asked a "positive or negative development" type question, you could have either a "balanced" opinion, or "strong" opinion. If you have a "strong" opinion, then you must spend every idea to defend your opinion, and ignore the other side. For instance, if you think this is a positive trend, then all the ideas in your body paragraphs could be explained why it is a positive development. DO NOT discuss the negative side.

Some ideas about this topic:

Negative side:
• The nuclear family unit could isolate people from other relatives and relationships.
• One of the parents, particularly the mother, is the cook, maid, babysitter and sometimes, breadwinner.
• They may have a tendency to burn out from attempting to meet every person's needs alone.
• That leaves little time for pampering and nurturing herself/himself and her/his relationships with others.
• Stress, depression, anxiety or other problems can all be a result of nuclear family burnout.
• This can break down the extended family unit, which can be beneficial in hard times.
• Parents from nuclear families may struggle to balance the demands of work, family and friendships without any outside assistance.
• *Extended family, with differing opinions and ideas, can help families see alternate viewpoints and learn to effectively deal with conflicts and opinions other than their own.

Positive side:
• Spouses or partners in nuclear families can role model a loving, caring and supportive relationship for their children.
• This will translate into future success by teaching children how to seek out positive relationships and interact well with others.
• Children will also benefit from watching partners work together to solve problems, delegate household responsibilities and support one another through positive and negative issues.
• One-person families or small family units have enough economic stability, as those families have fewer members who depend on their salary.
• The nuclear family may eat dinner together on a regular basis and take family vacations, further strengthening relationships and building a solid foundation for future life goals.

( *You can discuss the advantages of extended family when you write the disadvantages of small families.)

2 terms that you may need to know :
Nuclear family:  a social unit composed of two parents and one or more children.
Extend family:  kinship group consisting of a family nucleus and various relatives, as grandparents, usually living inone household and functioning as a larger unit. (Loosely) one's family conceived of as including aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and sometimes close friends and colleagues.



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