The English are a nation of stay-at-home. «There is no place like home,» they say. And when the man is not working he is at home in the company of his wife and children and busies himself with the affairs of the home. «The Englishman’s home is his castle,» is a saying known all over the world. And it is true.
A «typical» British family used to consist of mother, father and two children, but in recent years there have been many changes in family life. Some: of these have been caused by new laws and others are the result of changes in society. For example, since the law made it easier to get a divorce, the number of now ends in divorces increased. In fact one marriage in every three now ends in divorce. This means that there are a lot of one-parent families. Society is now more tolerant than it used to be of unmarried people, unmarried couples and single parents.
Another Change has been caused by the fact that people are living longer nowadays, and many old people live alone following the death of their partners. As a result of these changes in the pattern of people’s lives, there are many households which consist of only one person or one person and children.
You might think that marriage and the family are not so popular as they once were. However, the majority of divorced people marry again, and they sometimes take responsibility for a second family.
Members of a family — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins keep in touch, but they see less of each other than they used to. This is because people often move away from their home town to work, and so the family becomes scattered. Christmas is the traditional season for reunions. Although the family group is smaller nowadays than it used to be. relatives often travel many miles in order to spend the holiday together.
In general, each generation is keen to become independent, of parents in establishing its own family unit. and this fact can lead to social as well as geographical differences within the larger family group.
Relationships within the family are different now. Parents treat their children more as equals than they used to, and children have more freedom to make their own decisions. The father is more involved with bringing up children, often because the mother goes out to work. Increased leisure facilities and more money mean that there are greater opportunities outside the home. Although the family holiday is still an important part of family life (usually taken in August, and often abroad) many children have holidays away from their parents, often with a school party or other organized group.
Who looks after the older generation? There are about 10 million old-age pensioners in Britain, of whom about 750,000 cannot live entirely independently. The government gives financial help in the form of a pension but in the future it will be more and more difficult for the nation economy to support the increasing number of elderly. At .the present time, more than half of all old people are looked after at home. Many others live in Old Peoples’ Homes, which may be private or state owned.
British Homes. The majority of the British population live in small houses built close together. A typical house of this kind is built with two floors. The front door, which faces the street, opens into a hall with two rooms, one on each side of the hall. One of them is the dining-room; the other may be called the sitting-room, or the living-room. The most modern name for this room is the lounge.
The rooms upstairs are bedrooms; they are often very small. Often the dining-room is the most comfortable room in the house, and the one that is used all the time. The other members of the family bring their hobbies and games to the table. But when the television set la turned on, no one can do Anything in the dining-room.
Very many houses of this type were built in British cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today the land on which they stand has become very valuable and the owners either sell it or pull down the old houses and build large blocks of flats. In this way the owners make more money.
Many British people give their suburban house a name, such as the Cedars, the Poplars, the Rhubarb Cottage, even though there are no trees or vegetables in their gardens. People of high social position have country houses with names, so a house with a name seems «better» than a house with a number. Numbers make the postman’s work much easier, but this is not important.
In Britain one marriage in every three now ends in divorce. How can you explain this situation? Is it because of the young age when people get married? Are there any other reasons? If they are, what are these reasons? What is it necessary to escape divorce? Give your opinion.
In Britain members of a family used to get together on Christmas and other occasions. What do you think about it? Is it a good tradition? Do members of a British family often spend time together? On what occasions? Do you always like to be with your parents? Did you like it in your childhood? Do parents or children like more to be together?
What do-you think about the fathers role in British families? Are fathers often involved-in their children’s upbringing in Britain? What role did your own father , play in your bringing up? Is a father’s role in the family as important as mother’s? What do you think about it?
1. How do you understand the saying «The Englisman’s home is castle? Explan
2. What is a «typical» British family? How many persons it usually contain? D oall of them together?
3. Who usually takes care about old age pensioners in Britain? And in your country?
4. What do you think about British homes? Why do some people give names to their suburban houses? Is it so useful and necessary?