I've been having the same problem. As you, I use the exceptions the same way for my IMMEDIATE family and elderly father. We do have the option of creating "contact alerts" which I've done as "family" and have added my kids, wife and father.
But like you, in the past, you could quickly disable/enable this exception (like when in church or library) but now you can only delete it.
What's worse, is even though its too confusing, it only rings through on the phone setting. Regardless of what combination of settings I've tried via suggestions, it simply will not apply the exception to SMS or other messages received by my "family".
I'm not sure whether this is a bug in the new OS or what, but it's not good.
However, I wish they would fix the exceptions as you and I want them.
I've been keeping my ear to the ground on this issue in every forum and support group i can find with no help. So though I'm sorry about your problem and do not have an answer, I'm somewhat glad to hear I'm not the only one that is wondering about these exceptions.