While there has been considerable debate regarding the impact of adverse environments on the different members of the family, it has to be realized that forces in the environment can also have a favorable impact on the family. This paper highlights how families can be affected in a positive manner form the environment
When considering the environment for the subject of the debate, it has to be addressed that two forms of the environment affect family and these pertain to the external as well as the internal environment of the family. Environmental influences depend on the factors of influence in the external and the internal environment of the family. The factors that reside in the external environment and greatly affect the family include the physical environment, peer influence, friends and neighbors, the general society at large (Friedman, Bowden & Jones 2003), culture and religion (Bradley & Corwyn, 2000) as well as the availability of monetary funds. The internal factors that reside in the internal environment for the family pertain to the house, the attitude and behavior of the family members, and immediate relatives. These factors can also be categorized into the microsystem, macrosystem, and suprasystems associated with families (Friedman, Bowden & Jones 2003) and how they affect the family environment as a whole.
The environmental influences have been greatly attributed to the negative change in families and the negative effects that they might have on them. However, the focus over here is to identify and depict the positive effects on a family and its members that can be attributed to environmental factors.
The internal factors and the microsystem family influencers that can have a positive impact on the family are explored as follows. Amongst the internal influences, the following can prove to be good influences on the family. “Close parent/adolescent relationships, good parenting skills, shared family activities, and positive parent role modeling all have well-documented effects on adolescent health and development.
These are also areas where parents can make choices to make positive changes for their children, and where social policy can help support parents in taking such steps.” (Aufseeser, Jekielek & Brown, 2006) Increased communication between the family members also plays a positive role in creating a healthy environment for the family in the household. As a result children, especially teens in such families are less likely to be involved in drugs, alcohol, or substance abuse problems. Instead, they report higher levels of well being (Aufseeser, Jekielek & Brown, 2006)
Aside from the above, the parenting style and attitude of the family members is a major factor that can contribute to the personality and behavior of the children. The child-rearing practices employed in a family can strongly influence the family environment in the future (Hill, 1995). Where the parents are encouraging and supportive of their children, enabling them to develop with strategic support provided by the parents combined with sufficing independence, such families see a much more healthy relationship between the family members as well as increased efficacy and self-esteem for the children (Hill, 1995).
The external factors that form the macrosystem and the supra system for the family are discussed below following their positive effect on the family.
The physical environment can be a strong instigator when it comes to the health and well-being of the family members. Where families reside in environments free from pollution, low levels of noise, easy access to wildlife and greenery as well as access to nutritious and clean water, in such environments families are less likely to suffer from mental and physical diseases. However, it needs to be pointed out that a string protection system from the harshness of the elements also needs to be present to effectively make the physical environment a positive influencer for family and their health.
Culture, ethnicity, and traditions are amongst the strongest factors that can influence the family. The attitude of the family members, the relationships between the members of the family as well as the parenting style in the home are all attributed to the predominant culture and traditions that result in values and guidelines for the household. When dealing with conflict, the aspect of culture and ethnicity also greatly contributes to how the teenager can fare positively or negatively (Bradley & Corwyn, 2000). Similarly, societal institutions, especially when it comes to immigrant families can be an added influencer for the family even though it may be significantly different from the original culture and ethnicity of the family (Bradley & Corwyn, 2000).
Moreover when dealing with issues and problems family are more likely to retain their original culture and values as they provide them with strong support psychologically, enabling them to fight and resolve the problems they might be facing (Bradley & Corwyn, 2000). This shows that the culture and the ethnicity of the family can contribute positively to the family and its environment by providing a sense of familiarity and closeness which is derived through having personal reliance and belief on their traditions, values, culture, and religion. The guidelines provided in religion positively affect the development of the family members and their attitudes by clearly providing guidelines for authority and family cohesion. “Religious teaching, in general, guides the behavior of individuals who are believers. These guiding principles provide a framework on how to be a good person, a good father, a good son, a good neighbor, and so on” (Cheng, 2009).
Additionally, Socio-political forces can also be influential in determining the family’s health and well-being. Socio-political support from the society and the government regarding aid for the disabled can have a positive impact on the families having disabled members. Programs initiated by the government for providing medical, financial, and developmental support for undocumented immigrants can also positively impact such families of immigrants.
Other external factors like school and education provided to children on personal development and awareness can also positively affect the family through correlation. Research conducted by Durlak et al, provided that the school-based developmental programs as well as those that provoke change in the social systems of the students can have positive effects on the family as well through correlation and knowledge transfer (Durlak et al., 2007). This depicts that students learning about hygiene and cleanliness at school can transfer the knowledge back to parents at home, whose changed future habits about hygiene can result in lower sickness and disease in the house.
Another strong form of influence that comes from the external environment is that of peer influence. “Everyone needs positive peer interaction. It helps maintain self-esteem, builds confidence, and broadens one’s perspective. Not to mention that it is enjoyable to have good friends” (Witmer). While many have argued that peer influence especially in the case of children and adolescents can lead to destructive behavior in the form of substance abuse, alcoholism, and increased sexual activity, there also exist peer relationships that act as institutions that can provide support and encouragement to the family members to help them develop themselves.
Conclusively it can be presented that while many confess to the various environmental factors that contribute by hurting the family, there exit positive influencers in the environment as well which provide support to the family and heap them in their well being, thus creating a positive impact on them.
- Aufseeser, D., Jekielek, S., Brown, B., (2006), The Family Environment and Adolescent Well-being: Exposure to Positive and Negative Family Influences, National Adolescent Health Information Center, University of California, San Francisco.
- Bradley, R.H., Corwyn, R.F., (2000), Moderating Effect of Perceived Amount of Family Conflict on the Relation between Home Environmental Processes and the Well Being of Adolescents, Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 14, No. 3, p349-364.
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- Cheng, L. L., (2009), Creating an Optimal Language Learning Environment, Communication Disorders Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2, p69-76.
- Friedman, M.M., Bowden, V.R., Jones, E.G., (2003). Family Environmental Data. In (Ed. 5), Family Nursing: Research, Theory, and Practice, Prentice-Hall, Inc.
- Hill, N.E., (1995). The Relationship between Family Environment and Parenting Style: A Preliminary Study of African American Families, Journal of Black Psychology, 21, 408.
- Witmer, D., How To Encourage Positive Teen Friendships. Web.