Long live the family

It seems the post-war definition of family is fast becoming redundant. Divorce, pressure of work and changing cultural habits mean that the nuclear model of family is undergoing irrevocable change.

So what are we going to do about it?

Dr Katherine Rake, head of the Family and Parenting Institute, recently told the Daily Telegraph "People are constantly redefining what it means to be a family,"

"What we are seeing is that family shape is changing all the time, the notion of a traditional nuclear family... certainly isn't the norm now."

What's more, children of single-parents seem to be getting a raw deal; being 50% more likely to suffer problems with academic achievement, self-esteem, popularity with other children, behavioural difficulties, anxiety and depression.

In Milly, a 15-year-old contributor to The Teens' Speech, we have an opportunity to look beyond the numbers and into the heart of a young person raised, for the most part, by a single parent. And very touching it is too. For her, it is possible for single-parents to raise their children properly, "It's great," she says, "I loved it, I love my Mum so much."

Maybe it's a little obvious, but her contention is that love is the key in sustaining a nurturing and supportive family environment.

It's a point of view not a million miles away from the findings of a report on childhood, published earlier this year, called A Good Childhood: Searching for Values In A Competitive Age.

The report, authored by The Children's Society, suggests that high family break-up, teenage unkindness, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and income inequality are all the product of "adult selfishness". It also talks of the need for "a society...based on the law of love" and calls for a systemic redistribution of wealth through the tax system.

This all sounds great in theory, but are we really in a position to completely restructure society along fairer lines? Is it possible? Is it even necessary?

Milly doesn't seem to think so - are they both being naive?