Since time immemorial, the family has remained the strongest foundation on which clans, villages, societies, and nations are built. Though small and fragile, the family is “man’s” bedrock. Despite differences in cultural beliefs, norms and lifestyles, people across the world have a common stand on the importance of the family. Every nation has states, states have villages and clans, and the clans are made of families. This places the family at the very foundation of every nation. The future of any society therefore depends on the family. A society that fails to take care of its family unit is a doomed society. What actually makes the family such an important institution? First, the family instills morals in people, especially at young age. When a child is born, it is the responsibility of his or her family members to teach him or her societal values. Bennett says that, “At young age, children learn best through observation” (1986). Therefore, they will imitate what the elders do and try to act like them. Since at such ages they are not conscious of good or bad, it is the responsibility of the family to punish them when they do wrong, and reward them when they do right. The lack of morals among street children is a clear case of growing without family guidance. Children brought up in the streets without strict family code of conduct end up being robbers, rapists, alcoholics, and social misfits. By taking up the noble responsibility of guiding children, the family plays a vital role in shaping them and the society’s future. Consequently, the children become responsible members of the society. Secondly, the family helps in fulfilling individuals’ physical and emotional needs. Individuals often find themselves caught in difficult situations that require a lot of support to overcome. Broken relationships, loss of loved ones, loss of job, and diseases are some of the eventualities that can befall a person. Without proper care, love and support, individuals who suffer from these eventualities may be subjected to a lot of suffering or even end committing suicide. There have been reported cases of individuals discriminated against because of the diseases they are suffering from, their past relationships, social status or physical appearance (Lapidus, 1978). Cases like these make life difficult for the discriminated persons who are equally important members of the society. In such instances, the family provides a shoulder to lean on. The family support has helped restore many divested individuals who would have otherwise committed suicide. In doing this, the family helps in restoring the society thereby ensuring economic and social development. Additionally, the family ensures continuity of the society. A society is composed of people of different ages and generations. Even though all ages are prone to death, the elderly are more vulnerable. As the elderly in the society die and are buried, younger people are born. This ensures that the place of the dead persons is immediately filled leading to continuity and constant labor supply to the society. A society that lacks the family unit to help raise children is most likely to perish. Lastly, the family as a unit gives people a sense of belonging. The sense of belonging to a specific family intern makes individuals have a sense of belonging to their societies and lastly their nations. The feeling of belonging to a nation is actually patriotism.
Patriotism makes individuals defend their societies and nations and to work hard to build them. On the other hand, the family can be of disadvantage to society. When the family fails in its responsibility of instilling morals in the society, the result is disastrous (Cornell, 2007). In fact, some families deliberately teach their members acts considered to be against humanity such as terrorism. Such families bring down the society and are a threat to its continuity. On the same stride, parents and guardians who are not responsible are bad influence to children under their care. Such children “are corrupted” at an early age ending like their guardians (Cornell, 2007). A society of corrupt individuals cannot make any progress socially, economically or politically. High expectations from family members and strict family rules often lead to costly sacrifices. Some families are so strict that going against their decision is not only unacceptable, but also criminal. Such families may reverse an individual’s choice of spouse, career or even associates. Decisions such as these are very important in life that individual’s opinion should hold but not the family’s stand. In fact, the role of the family should only be to provide guidance. One’s entire life and future is threatened when his or her family interferes with his or her decisions. Weber claims that, “There have been cases of parents rejecting their children’s career choices and spouses” (Weber, 1978). In their desire not to disappoint parents, children have conformed to parents’ desires sacrificing their own happiness. Though the family has been at times the society’s fault line, a family built on strong moral standards has far-reaching advantages. Such advantages cannot be overlooked for minor shortcomings. Any society that wants to succeed, must therefore direct its resources to building strong, united, and morally upright family units.
Bennett, W. J. (1986). The importance of the family to society. New York: Family Research Council of America.
Cornell, V. J. (2007). Voices of Islam: Voices of life : family, home, and society. London: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Lapidus, G. W. (1978). Women in Soviet society: equality, development, and social change. Califonia: University of California Press.
Weber, M. (1978). Economy and society: an outline of interpretive sociology. Califonia: University of California Press.