All in the family
Strength of society depends on the strength of its families
SOCIETY BY BHUSHAN BAZAZ
Family is the institution to which we owe our humanity. We know no other way of making human beings except by bringing them up in a family. The family is the oldest, fundamental and most enduring of all human institutions. It is the corner of society and our personal lives. The family is the primary group, one of the purest form available. No other group is more intimate, informal and spontaneous.
The infant does not join family, he is born into it, and the ties are so binding that he may not really break them except through death. It is the family, which gives the child his earliest and first experience in living. It takes care of him when he is completely unformed, before any other agency or society has had any chance to affect him. By the time the child is exposed to non-family influences, he already has a basic repertory of patterns for meeting life’s challenges. The deep biological intimacies of mother and child and the sharing of experience of family members, give to the family life a special character. It has frequently been pointed out that the family, partly because of the relations of touch which are possible within it, is more intimate than any other group. The family gives the child a name and a place, a home to which his right is unquestioned, a mother to comfort and care for him, and a father to lead him or her into adulthood.
The value of unselfish behaviour is taught more readily and at the appropriate stages of development, in the small and intimate world of the family. It is assumed that the child who learns responsibility in the family will transfer this learning to social relationship outside the family. However this need not necessarily happen unless the quality of family upbringing is sound.
The family exerts a consistent influence upon the child. The child changes teachers yearly but keeps the same parents all his life. It is also true that in the course of a given week the child spends even more of his waking hours at home than at the school. However, at certain stages in a boy’s life his friends become more important than his family, but then even friends change but the family remains. Family is the only stable institution in which the growing child finds security. Within the enveloping life of the family each child learns who he is, what he is, and what he may become- what it is, infact, to be a full human being.
One of the biggest contribution of the family to the child is teaching of the tools of communication, language, the ability to handle linguistic symbols. The parent in the process of fostering the language development of the child hears for the first time his own habitual expressions repeated.
The family provides the stage to develop and utilize the childs abilities, enabling the first activities that a child performs and offering an approving audience for his performances. The parents in turn relive their lives in watching and participating in the process. Children provide parents with the opportunity in a sense, to live all over again. Something which most persons, including those who will not admit it, would like to do.
In interacting with children, the parents make a number of contributions to their own natural growth and development. A father fosters his own personality development by working for his children and by missing a tennis game to go on a picnic with the family. The mother contributes in her own way. Everyone gains in the process.
From the family the child receives his first lessons in living with other persons and in making adjustments with them. But in the process of offering these lessons in how to get along, parents obtain insights into life’s processes, which no school can provide. From children the parents learn the meaning of the saying, “A baby is not born human but is humanised by meaningful contacts with family members”.
Home is a psychological laboratory in which human nature and social relations are mostly easily seen in the raw without the dissembling and “cover up” which office manners give to most extra family situations. In the intimacy of the home a mirror is always available in which to review one’s self as others see it. No one can be more brutally or incisively frank than a brother or sister or parents. It is often here that the child gets his first insights into himself and his first understanding of others. He is often thereby aided in accepting himself for what he is.
The home is a cushioned retreat from the child’s extra family activities, a place where he knows that he is understood and appreciated. Parents too attain a sense of being needed, appreciated, and understood. Parents receive from the children deep and abiding emotional fulfilment as the family progresses through its life cycle, which range from the recognition of the need to provide protection in the dependency years to the rare experience of companionship in later years.
The family is the major agent for transmitting culture. The child does not merely absorb the culture of his group, he absorbs the culture as it is transmitted to him by the family. The taboos, precepts, prejudices etc of his group are passed on to him by the other members of his family who have absorbed them. Children do not acquire culture as it exists in the museums or the abstractions of the anthropologists, they learn it from people, and primarily from the family into which they are born.
In the family the children learn through the frustrating experiences the reality of authority, the limitations on their rights and privileges, identifying in the process their parents as symbols of authority. From these experiences, patterns or reaction to all symbols of authority are constructed, Parents, for their part, grow as a result of the responsibility of acting as symbol and agents of authority. For many people this is the first real responsibility they have ever experienced.
The family may be regarded as a social group with its own characteristic set of members with different roles, as of father, husband, wife, mother, daughter, and son. This social group has its own unique life. The roles of members change at different stages of life cycles. The family group has a characteristic relationship with other family units, through kinship and friendship ties. The family as a group has certain functions which may vary at different stages of the family life-cycle. The function of the family group are not fixed by any law of nature into an immutable pattern. Various alternatives are possible and have been tried at different times.
The strength of a nation or a society depends largely on the strength of its families. The relationship between families and society is complicated. What happens in one affects the other. Philosophers and social analysts have noted that society is a structure made up of families, and that the peculiarities of a given society can be described by outlining its family relations. The earliest moral and ethical writings suggest that society loses its strength if people fail in their family obligations, that happiness and prosperity would prevail in the society if only everyone would behave properly as a family member.
We would also recognize that successful family life is neither enforced dependency, nor isolated individualism, but interdependence. Families should develop a sense of solidarity, warmth and trust. Only the family which holds together is capable of steering its members through crisis.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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