Five kinds of connections are discussed in this paper: (1) Family generations are connected across the life course. Parents and (adult) children are linked by strong lifelong bonds. (2) At the same time, there are long-term connections between family and the state. For example, welfare state regulations affect the extent and patterns of intergenerational solidarity within families. (3) One can observe connections between generational bonds and social stratification. Over the life course, family solidarity leads to a cumulation of social inequality. (4) A theoretical model is offered which centrally proposes connections between individual needs and opportunities, families and cultural-contextual structures. (5) Connections between theoretical considerations and empirical research are discussed, taking help, care and inheritance as examples.