The changing nature of the family has sparked considerable debate and controversy in recent years. This book takes a comprehensive look at family structures worldwide and women's roles within them. It describes how the family impacts upon every aspect of women's lives, their early education and socialization, sexuality and the ways in which they learn their roles as wives, mothers and carers. It assesses the growing challenge from women to men's power and explores the contradictions for women that are inherent in the family. It examines the role of state support and considers the factors underlying the rising divorce rate that is now affecting families in both North and South.