The traditional 2.4 children family is in the minority in Britain, according to research published on Tuesday.
The Centre for the Modern Family found that 80% of people describe their family as non traditional – and over half feel under-represented by current government policy.
Joanna Caswell, a 42-year-old English teacher living in Sussex is just one example of family unit that goes beyond a married couple and their children. She lives with her husband, her five-year-old son, and her parents, who moved in after they retired and describes herself as a “boomerang child whose parents got the last laugh”.
For Caswell, the atypical set-up is normal. "Personally, I see children in all sorts of family situations, single parents or living with step parents or with much younger siblings or much older siblings.
“I don't think any of them would consider themselves to be unusual or atypical. People don't think about the pattern, they just get on with the situation that they're in.
"I don't consider myself to be any different, when they talk about families. I just consider myself to be in a strong family unit”, she told Huffington Post UK.
But the research highlights 50% don’t think the government takes their set-up into account when making policy.
Caswell believes the government haven’t “caught up with the facts”.
"There are certainly less mum-dad units around. I just think things have evolved, things are quite different now. You've got lots of people who haven't left home, just by default, because of housing or whatever”.
Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational psychologist at Lancaster University and one of the panelists at the think tank says the research shows the “typical” family no longer exists.
“Some married families have step-children. There isn't even a traditional family even for the married people.
“Society needs to know this because policies - a lot of tax policies - they're not looking at the family unit as what it really is.”
Cooper points out that nearly a quarter of the 3,000 people surveyed do not believe their family is valued by society and nearly a fifth of people feel judged.
“We're not going to go back to the traditional family unit anymore. We're highly movie, we have lots of stresses on strains… We have to see the reality of the era that we're living in.”
And he says the research is symbolic of a “wider change” in society, stressing: “Being married isn't a minority but being married once and only is”.
“People do want to be committed but they don't always want those to be bounded by law and yet they may be together for a heck of a long time.
“I don't think it is about people not wanting to be together for life - now when people are born out of wedlock it's very much a long-term partnership. It's not casual and they are committed”.
But for Cooper, and the Centre for The Modern Family, it’s time for politicians to catch-up with reality.
“Politicians feel, I think, they have to pander to the traditional family. Even though they know, they must know, given the size of these figures, I think politicians feel they have to play the traditional card even though they know - from constituents, families, and friends - even themselves, some of them have been divorced.”Suggest a correction