The interactions between the family and society
Family - the most basic unit of our society
The family is the basic unit of the society. It plays a major role in the development of each member of the family in conformity with societal standards. When there is a divergence in character trait or behavior of an individual relative to the society, this fault is often attributed to the family upbringing of that particular individual. Therefore, emphasis should be given to the way a person is brought up in the family where he belongs, because the eventual result would either benefit the society or be a source of nuisance for the whole community. Hence, it is said that "stable families are the first unit in building unified communities and a stable society (relate.org.uk)."
More and more societal issues emerge today because of communities' growing awareness of their own problems that need to be solved. One of these issues is the breakdown of the family; this issue attracted attention because of the family's primary role in the production of upright individuals to the society.
Accordingly, "family breakdown is a private tragedy but on a wider scale is also a matter for public concern. Looking at social and family policy questions across government shows that family breakdown contributes to a wide variety of social problems causing distress for individuals, families and communities (relate.org.uk)." Thus the need to give particular interest to this issue is immediate because it is the society, as a whole, who will be adversely affected if this issue would not be resolved.
As varied are the effects to the society of the breakdown of the family, the causes are numerous that each one should be tackled independently from the other because each cause is distinctive and causes a different degree of effect to the breaking down of the family structure. Considered as causes of breakdown of family relationships are parental fighting and domestic violence; in which they cause a feeling of alienation or neglect in the children. This often results in juvenile delinquency that causes problems to the community. It is a fact that "the more frequent or intense the conflict, the more the child is hurt emotionally. In sharp contrast, tranquility and peace in the family and in the marriage helps prevent delinquency. Breakup of parents' marriage during the first five years of a child's life places him at a high risk of becoming a juvenile delinquent (heritage.org)."
At a more common perspective, poverty plays a big role in a family relationship break-up. The pressure of having to meet the entire family's needs everyday places upon the parents a heavy load and often causes neglect in caring for the children and scarcity of attention given to one's spouse. This also leads to habitual drinking or drug addiction; in which these behaviors are often mimicked by children.
Another cause is family abandonment which often causes emotional pain and anxiety and financially-based problems for the ones abandoned. It is said that the "loss of love and guidance at the intimate levels of marriage and family has broad social consequences for children and for the wider community. The empirical evidence shows that too many young men and women from broken families tend to have a much weaker sense of connection with their neighborhood and are prone to exploit its members to satisfy their unmet needs or desires (heritage.org)." This situation contemplates a losing of belongingness to the community where one belongs, and causes the collapse of the society in the long run.
These causes of the breaking down of the family structure put the community and the society in danger of disintegration. A structure which has a weak foundation will tend to collapse if an adverse event occurs. This situation applies in the societal milieu; once the family structure, as the basic unit/foundation of the society, breaks down the societal disintegration soon follows.
The traditional concept of a loving family must be preserved in order for the whole community to be benefited in the process. In keeping with this, the elements of trust, support and especially love must be integrated into the family life at all times. These elements bind the family into a cohesive structure that will be able to withstand societal challenges.
Children in their young and tender ages need the loving care and support of their parents in order to grow into morally responsible individuals. Love is the most fundamental requisite for strong and healthy family; thus, this should be shown by the family members toward each other, especially to the children. A child develops a feeling of security and comfort knowing fully well that there is some one who will support him/her in his endeavors in life.
The family which is most rewarding for a parent is having a supportive and loving spouse who will share the burdens and pressures of family life, and children who are contented with what they are provided with. Overall family happiness and well-being eventually follow when these elements concur. It is suggested also that parents must undergo training and counseling so that they are the ones who primarily contribute to the strengthening of the family structure. Eventually, they reap the rewards of a good family life.
1) Relationship and Society (2006) www.relate.org.uk [webpage]
Date accessed: 4 April 2007
2) Fagan, P.F. The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community (1995) www.heritage.org [webpage]
Date accessed: 4 April 2007