For many Dutch, the immediate family remains important to the individual throughout their life. The personal relationships that family members share and the support they receive from one another is highly valued. The Dutch may maintain a distinction between relatives by marriage and relatives by blood. Support and solidarity, both in financial and emotional terms, are usually directed towards the closest kin (parents, children and siblings). Nonetheless, individuals value their relatives by marriage and extended family.
The Dutch are often encouraged to be independent and self-reliant as they grow up. Young people tend to leave home at the age of 18 in order to pursue higher education or employment. However, due to housing shortages and increasing university costs, many people may continue to live with their parents until they are married.
Family Structure and Gender Roles
The nuclear family is the most common household unit. Extended family tend to live separately but close to one another. However, many different living situations and family forms are gaining acceptance in the Netherlands. It is now common to see single-person households, single-parent families and couples without children. Moreover, there is an increasing acceptance of same-sex couples with children. This demonstrates the attitude of tolerance in Dutch society towards different choices in family structure.
Within the household, it is usually the man who has the principal authority. However, gender is becoming a less important factor in determining a person's role or duty in the family. Women often have equal rights and the opportunity to choose their form of contribution to the household dynamic. Some Dutch women may work part-time to allow for flexibility in caring for their children. It is also becoming common for both parents to choose part-time employment so that the couple can take turns tending to the household and children while the other works.
Dating and Marriage
Dating practices in the Netherlands are similar to those throughout the English-speaking West. During high school, teenagers will begin to socialise in group activities with peers from school or those living in the same neighbourhood. Some couples may meet through social activities such as a sports club or church.
The Dutch choose their partners out of love; arranged marriages are not a cultural custom and are somewhat disapproved of. Engagement and wedding practices vary throughout the country. Usually, the marriage ceremony entails a civil registration. Depending on the couple's preferences, there may be a religious ceremony. LGBTQI+ couples have the same rights to marriage as their heterosexual counterparts. It is common for couples to live together for years before marriage. In some cases, they may decide not to get married and remain in a de facto relationship instead.