Negative effects of the nuclear family include the isolation and emotional dependency of the husband-wife and parent-child relationship, which produces tensions and may lead to marriage breakdown in the former instance and juvenile delinquency and other juvenile problems in the latter. The nuclear family so far as it excludes other family members who are integrated into the extended family, tends to neglect the needy, such as the aged, poor, handicapped; and tends to aspire in a competitive manner towards material well-being and status for itself. The acquisition of status symbols which characterizes the nuclear family leads to a wastage of resources and artificial values with a strong emphasis on class consciousness.
Each person in a nuclear family is too tightly linked to other members of the family. If any one relationship goes sour, even for a few hours, it becomes critical. People cannot simply turn towards uncles, aunts, grandchildren, cousins, nephews, nieces, etc, as they could in an extended family. Instead, each difficulty twists the family unit into ever tighter spirals of discomfort. The children become prey to all kinds of dependencies and oedipal neuroses. Nuclear families also splinter off their old relatives, who often live in conditions of loneliness and neglect; and instil a great sense of deprivation on the adults, particularly on housewives.
The family is what its members make it. The myth of the "ever-happy" family puts intolerable strains on members to behave in preordained ways. These are the strains of accepting a fixed group of role definitions, not the inherent strains of the family relationship. The rootless, readily mobile, nuclear family group is much more flexible and responsive to the demands for labour mobility that are built into 'advanced' economies. Also, within the nuclear family there is room for individuals to develop creativity and take personal initiatives that the extended family would never willingly encourage. It is wrong to romanticize the extended family which, as an institution, can be cloying, repressive and greedy as well as loving and kind.