A family refers to a group of people that are related closely by marriage, birth, adoption, or assimilation. These people tend to have a number of factors in common that may be instrumental in uniting them. The family is a broad area and therefore we will discuss a few major aspects of the same. In the understanding of the family unit, it is important to understand the origin of the family, its importance, classifications as well as its importance in society. It is also important to understand the diversities in different families and their effects on society. In this discussion, we shall therefore consider the origin of the family, the different types of families, functions of the family, and the dimensions the family unit has taken in modern-day life.
A family unit is considered a divine institution rather than just being a biological fact. The biblical account depicts the family as having begun with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. According to it, it is not only the origin that is divine but also the purpose. It views the family as having been initiated by God and should always be respected. According to ethnography, the human family as an institution is because of consanguinity. Various theories of anthropology were suggested to have led to the change in the structure and functions of the family. These were linked to the theory of evolution.
Families can be classified based on marriage as being either polygamous or monogamous. A monogamous family is one with a single wife and a single husband while a polygamous family is one, which in most cases has a single husband being married to two or more wives. When we look at it in terms of size and structure, we can describe a family as either being nuclear or extended. A nuclear family is one, which is made of up a father, a mother, and their children. An extended family, on the other hand, is one, which is made up of parents, children, and relatives. These relatives may be grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
The family has several functions, which include, reproductive, socialization, economic and emotional functions. Procreation, which is a reproductive function, is one of the major functions of a family. Through this, children are born and new families are formed. The economic aspect is analyzed by virtue of the breadwinner and the dependants in any given family setup up. Initially, children were used as labor sources for the purposes of providing for their families.
The family is also important in the nurturing of children. This is in terms of their social life in general and they tend to take on some behavior through the family. It is through these that they are able to learn to do various things that human beings do. Such may include communication among others. The morals, values, and culture in any given child are determined by his or her interactions with parents and siblings.
In modern society, families have taken different dimensions. We have reconstituted, single parent and ‘cereal packet’ families in addition to the other known families. Research by sociologists so far has shown that the diversity of families is increasing at an alarming rate. It is an era where the absenteeism of parents in the nurturing of their children is a common phenomenon. Most parents prefer to leave their children under the care of nannies. This they do for convenience sake especially for the purpose of their jobs. Children tend to lack the bonding they need from their parents and hence they are emotionally detached from their parents.