Family is the building block of society. Without family, we would not have anything. The world revolves around families and their wants and needs. Family is one of the most important socialization agents that give support to both parents and children if there are children. A family is a married heterosexual couple who have a child or children.
Other Definitions of Family
Others view family in a different light. For example, some view family as a combination of two people or more who are together through bonds which could include birth, adoption, placement, or mutual consent. Others view family as a married couple with or without children. Some also reflect ideas of family by claiming it to be a single parent living with a child. In addition to this, family can also be defined as any couple living in common-law, with or without children. A family can also be defined as a group of people who are related by consanguinity, affinity, and co-residence. With all these definitons, the functions of the family remain the same. All families have the same wants and needs in general, since every individual needs the same thing when living in this agent of socialization.
What is a Family Not Supposed to be?
According to Elvira (2009), a family is not supposed to be a neat, smiling, perfect peas in a pod. Rather, she calls this a dysfunctional family, which is one which does not function well or meet the needs of the members. We all know that the family is important for all the individuals to feel comfortable and safe in. If these very simple needs are not met, the family is dysfunctional and can therfore also not meet the economic and psychological functions necessary to maintain the family.
What a Family Should be
According to her many years of couselling individuals and couples, Elvira has found that there are several functions that she believes are important for a functioning family to have. One of the largest is respect for all the individuals which is necessary for trust to be formed as well as appreciation and well-being of each other. A family should also allow its members to grow and change, with positive encouragement from the other individuals. The last most important concept that a functional family should embrace is that it provides clear boundaries. Where there is understanding, obedience will stem from it as well, which will also add to the respect factor!
Who Chooses Family?
Family can be choosen by who marries who, or is common-law with whom, or receives children with another person. In general, when one is married, both sides of the marriage obtain their spouses family as their own. Children immediately become part of the family of their parents, or parent, and obtain that whole same family. This is also similar with adoption.
Types of Family
There are many forms that families come in. One of the most well-known forms is the nuclear family, which consists of two parents living together with their unmarried children. The traditional family consisted of a father and mother with many children. A more common type of family emerging in our society are single-parent families, where there is one parent with children, with the parent normally being the mother. We also see more and more common-law families, where an unmarried couple cohabitats with or without children.
Why is Family Important?
Family is extremely important for psychological and economic needs. A family is also important for determining relatives and inheritance. This is extremely important in some cultures, where an inheritance would mean power and control. A family is also important to provide for the needs of the individuals. This is explored further in the functions of the family. This can be analyzed further. Perhaps one questions why their family is important to them. Several points that could come up would be for an emotionally safe environment. A family is critical for this, as each member in a functional family would have the freedom to state their thoughts, ideas, dreams, and wishes without fear of being hurt. A family respects each other and treats each other with respect, which is important to fulfill Maslow's hierarchy of needs with fulfilling the emotional and psychological needs of the individual, as well as the need to be accepted. A family is also there to be supportive and to care for each other. A strong family will have the parents working as a team in parenting, providing the children with clear rules and guidlines. This is extremely important to the children to fulfill their security and safety needs in Maslow's hierarchy.