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Children and The Family Vocabulary

These are useful words and phrases based around Children and the Family vocabulary, a common topic in IELTS. This vocabulary will help you with all parts of the test if the topic arises.


As with the other vocabulary on these pages, although common word forms are given, not all word forms are here, so remember that once you understand the word you should study it further to make sure you understand exactly how it is used in different contexts.

At the bottom of the page there are links to essays connected to this children and the family vocabulary. The vocabulary may also be useful for topics you could get in your speaking or to improve your range of vocabulary more generally.

You will find:

The word The definition
An example sentence

Children and the Family Vocabulary

Nuclear family

Family group consisting of a pair of adults and their children

Most households in the Western world tend to be nuclear families.

Extended family
Larger than the nuclear family - consisting of aunts, uncles, and cousins all living nearby or in the same household.

If you live with your extended family they can help to look after the children.

A parent, not living with a spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children.

Some people believe that it is not good for children to grow up in a single-parent household.

Group of people related by blood or marriage

Relatives, such as grandparents, can play an important role in helping to raise children.

Brothers or sisters

I have three siblings – one brother and two sisters.

A young person who is developing into an adult

Children can sometimes cause more problems for their parents when they become adolescents.

Someone who depends on you for financial support, such as a child or family member who does not work

My dependants will be well-looked after when I die as I have left a lot of money to them in my will.

Demanding that people obey completely and refusing to allow them freedom to act as they wish

His father was very authoritarian and he used to scare me quite a lot.

Strongly limiting someone's freedom to behave as they wish, or likely to severely punish someone if they do not obey.

Some parents believe that they have to be very strict with their children to ensure they behave well.

Birth control / Contraception
(the use of) any of various methods intended to prevent a woman becoming pregnant

One of the reasons for the falling number of births in developing countries is birth control. Medical clinics often distribute free contraception.

Birth Rate
The number of babies born over a given time

The birth rate has been falling in many countries.

Bring Up / Upbringing
To care for a child until he or she is an adult, often giving him or her particular beliefs

Children should be brought up to respect their parents.

I had a very good upbringing.

To take ​care of a ​person (or an ​animal or ​plant) until they are ​completely ​grown

Her parents raised her very well as she is now a very kind and considerate young woman.

Child Development
The biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescence

There is no doubt that there are factors external to the family that significantly impact on a child's development.

Care for children provided by either the government, an organization, or a person, while parents are at work or are away for another reason

Cheap childcare is very important in order to allow mother's to return to work.

An official or legal process to end a marriage

My parents divorced when I was 15.

Divorce is very common these days.

An arrangement, but not necessarily done legally, by which two married people stop living together as a couple

Me and my partner are having a trial separation. Hopefully we can sort things out.

Child Neglect
A form of child abuse where there is an ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs, such as being left without adequate food, clothes, shelter, medicine etc.

Social services will intervene if a child has been neglected.

Dysfunctional Family
A family where there is conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect, resulting in poor emotional and physical health

The child comes from a very dysfunctional family. The father was violent and is now in prison and the mother has a drugs problem.

Emotional Security
To feel happy and secure from having enough love, acceptance and respect

The most important factor leading to a fulfilled and happy life for a child is emotional security.

Reasonable and has good judgment and their behaviour is not difficult or strange

A child brought up by responsible parents and provided with emotional security will grow up to be very well-adjusted.

Responsible Parent
Having good judgement and the ability to act correctly when bringing up a child e.g. ensuring they are not in any danger

If you have children it is very important to be responsible parents.

Formative years
A period of a person's life, usually childhood, that has a big influence on the person they become and the rest of that persons life

If things go wrong for someone in their formative years, it can have an impact on their adult life.

Taking on the legal responsibilities as parent of a child that is not one's biological child

If a couple can't have a child they may decide to adopt.

Taking on the responsibilities for a child in place of the child's natural parents but without legally adopting the child.

Fostering a child can be a very fulfilling experience.

They have decided to become foster parents.

Care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing

It is the family that can provide a supportive, secure, and nurturing environment, which is crucial to the way in which a child becomes an adult.

Overprotective Parents
Wishing to protect a child too much

Children who have had overprotective parents do not build up a strong character to deal with the outside world on their own.

Spoiled Child
A child who shows bad behaviour from overindulgence by their parents

Children who are given everything that they demand from their parents may become very spoiled.

View some model essays that include Children and the Family vocabulary:

Family Size Essay

Family Values Essay

Child Development Essay

More Topic Related Vocabulary:

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