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English Conversation – Family Roles

Friday, September 4, 2015 @ 09:09 PM
posted by Jo

familyrolesThis is the preparation material for an English conversation lesson about family roles, which explores the rights, privileges, obligations, and roles that are assigned to each family member.  There are many cultural and religious factors that determine family roles. Changes in society and advancements of technology have also resulted in changing family roles in many countries.


Video comparing family roles in the 1950s and 2000s

  • What do you think was meant by “bringing home the bacon”?
  • How do you think women in the 1950s “kept the house afloat”?
  • Do you know what was meant by “The 1950’s family life was white picket fence perfection”?
  • The video describes typical changes that have occurred to family roles in Western society. Has a similar pattern occurred in your country?


  • Matriarch – the female head of a family
  • Patriarch – the male head of a family
  • Homemaker – the person in the family who looks after the home
  • Breadwinner – the person in the family who earns the highest income
  • Sibling – a person’s brother or sister
  • Kin – a person related to another or others
  • Ancestor – someone from whom you are descended
  • Spouse – a person’s partner in marriage

Idioms and expressions

  • Rules the roost – to be in charge of the home
  • Wears the pants – to be the dominate person in a relationship
  • Middle child syndrome - when a middle child feels left out or neglected
  • Close knit family – a family with close relationships to each other

Conversation Questions

  • What is a woman’s typical family role in your culture?
  • What is a man’s typical family role in your culture?
  • Have these roles changed over time?
  • What are the positive aspects of these changes?
  • What are the negative aspects of these changes?
  • Are there cultural traditions in your country that only involve women?
  • Are there cultural traditions in your country that only involve men?
  • What do you think your society would look like if the roles were reversed?
  • Do you know any stay-at-home dads?
  • If yes, do you think this works well for the family involved?
  • In what circumstances might a father be the one to raise the children?
  • Do you think children are treated differently according to whether they are the first, middle, or last child? If so, how?
  • Are sons treated differently than daughters in your country?
  • Are there customs that are different for sons compared to daughters?
  • What is the typical number of children that a family has. How has this changed?
  • Do parents, parents-in-law, or grandparents play a role in the raising of their grandchildren in your country?
  • Do you know anyone with an unconventional family?
  • How does your society look upon people with unconventional families?
  • How common is it for people to have children before marriage in your country?
  • How does your society view children before marriage?
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