As a social unit consisting of kith and kin related folks, the family is by far the oldest human institution on earth. Its relevance in today’s world speaks volume of the rich endurance and innate survival intelligence with which it had outlived other forms of human assemblage and civilization.
For a connoisseur of life comparing between the dispensations, it soon become obvious that what makes the family institutions to stand this test of time is its ability to adapt to changing roles.
The role of the family in raising the children, i.e. the young member of the human family into functional adult individual who is able to duplicate the same ranked first amongst one significant attribute of this awesome institution. The house where a family dwells is more than just the boundaries cornered by wall and gardens and fences.
A family or its home is the cradle of life because it is the first sphere of influence of the human person. It has an enduring way of colouring the behaviour of the children and to a larger extent, is able to influence the kind of an adult will result.
It is the only institution in which members live before birth, during a lifetime and after death. The individual i.e. father, mother, children, cousin e.t.c. is what makes up the unit of the family and which in turn makes up the unit of the human society.
Thus, the family can be said to be the power-house of a society. As a matter of fact, the human society can barely hold against vices, refrain from descending into chaos and as it is now been acclaimed emerge victorious above all others social formation without the stabilization provide by its principal unit, the family.
Resonantly, the role of the family at providing the basis for early child’s socialization as well as instilling the necessary cultural pattern is the pivot of our social life.
The family is also the first source of empowerment. Without the ability of parents to provide, without the breadwinning capabilities of parent-figure to foster financially as well as meeting various needs, and without tender love and care of been among folks who’ll provide basic socialisation ethics, growing up and surviving against the challenge of the age of innocence as well as the herculean task of the teenage years can assume a rather upsetting propensity capable of choking out the simple joy of being alive.
There is no person on earth who doesn’t belong to a family. Being a member comes in three formal categories; nuclear, compound and extended structure and provides the anchorage for ensuring individual’s identity. We are first a product of the family before we become a member of the society.
Though and ultimately, the depth of intricacies existing between the family and the society tend to consumed this identity. Somewhere along the line, the role of the family and that of the society reaches a vanishing point and become twined.
Whatever becomes of the individual is the direct combination of these two influences. The former kick-start the snow ball while the later spins it into a mighty avalanche.
In the ancient African setting, the families were large, and every member of the family had an important role in helping to provide to meet needs. The men hunted, farmed and trade. They also care, love and provide essential support service to their kith and kin.
The women give birth to and cared for the children, manage for the home front using their innate feminine charms and affection, and collaborate with the man to keep the home together through changing times. The children tend to provide assistance where needed or as assigned a by parent or other elderly member.
In recent times, owing to the advancement in science and technology, the home is at the fore front of battle. Traditional role of the family is also been challenge by the reality of hunger, diseases and war.
As if not enough, the gory portrait of an uncertainty future orchestrated by the crash of the global economy, the modern day nation-state challenge as terrorism and the ever growing concern about an eventual start war poses a deep growing concern about what the role the family should be.
The opinions are crossed and complicated by the different world view as shared by those examining the issue. Of course there are lots of changing trends that are threatening to destroy the family life.
Modern technological discoveries though are primarily envisioned and designed to aid human capabilities can constitute a menace to the extent of threatening the life of the family. There are also economics and government policies from within and outside the locality of families and which often times seek to offset the delicate balance of the institution.
These changes are making vices like unfaithfulness homosexuality and divorce more acceptable while eroding the very importance virtues of the family life.
Already, the precarious natures of this intrusion have forced the middle class and poor parents to become the dependent population whereas the wards become the bread winner – a reversal of roles. These pressures are exerting a centrifugal force on the family life.
How important is the family? What role(s) is the family meant to play in this information age? Who should provide; parent or children? How can parent be better empowered to cope with pressures? Are there moral justifications for parent who push their children into the street? To what extent should a family go in its attempt to survive? What role should the community play and how? More so, in the light of today’s extended online socialisation, is the traditional definition of a family applicable?
The answering of these and many more questions will not only help to resolve the burning question on what the role of the family should be in this age. It will indeed reveal the ever changing role of the family.