For most of us, we are dependent on family from the moment we exit the womb. Our family provides sustenance and support throughout our childhood. We share our highest highs and our lowest lows with them. They provide emotional support through such times. So how best does a family work?
To start with, Dictionary.com defines family as “a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for.” It can also be defined as two people living in a close personal relationship together with their offspring. The family unit is and always will be the basic social organization or unit of any society. This relationship alone provides stability in a sexual, emotional, intellectual and social way as no other can. When families are strong, society is strong as a rule. When families are weak, societies begin to break down. —Lawrence Wilson, MD, http://drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/FAMILIES.htm
Having a child can either strengthen the marital bond or drive a wedge between it depending on how strong a footing it is on. That is why the two partners need to love each other sincerely before having a child. I personally believe every child deserves to be raised by two loving parents. Young children are completely dependent on their parents and the latter needs to be dedicated to them wholeheartedly. At the very least, children require food and shelter from the moment they are born. They also require tender loving care so they develop in a warm social environment. The first five years are the most crucial since they help lay the foundation for the child’s personality. There they learn such critical concepts as love, trust, intimacy, and a sense of security.
Children in their middle years typically treasure their families and feel they are special and irreplaceable. Families provide children with a sense of belonging and a unique identity. Families are, or at least should be, a source of emotional support and comfort, warmth and nurturing, protection and security. Family relationships provide children with a critical sense of being valued and with a vital network of historical linkages and social support. Within every healthy family there is a sense of reciprocity—a giving and taking of love and empathy by every family member.
Families are much more than groups of individuals. They have their own goals and aspirations. They also are places where every child and adult should feel that he or she is special and be encouraged to pursue his or her own dreams; a place where everyone’s individuality is permitted to flourish. Although every family has conflicts, all the family members should feel as though they can express themselves openly, share their feelings, and have their opinions listened to with understanding. In fact, conflicts and disagreements are a normal part of family life and are important insofar as they permit people to communicate their differences and vent their feelings.
The family instructs children and gives guidance about personal values and social behavior. It instills discipline and helps them learn and internalize codes of conduct that will serve them for the rest of their lives. It helps them develop positive interpersonal relationships, and it provides an environment that encourages learning both in the home and at school. It gives children a sense of history and a secure base from which to grow and develop. Yet, as important as these functions are, they do not happen automatically. Every parent knows it takes hard work to keep the family going as an effective, adaptive, and functional unit. —healthychildren.org, http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/The-Importance-of-Family.aspx
Family is the anchor upon which everyone involved keeps afloat. The relationships formed there typically last a lifetime. It’s a place to go for support, to bounce ideas off of before acting upon them. Family members can provide advice on matters ranging from what clothes to wear to what college to attend. It serves as a foundation upon which a child can build his or her life. There a child learns to care for him- or herself and develop the skills necessary to be a functional adult. A child also learns the skills necessary to participate in successful relationships, be they platonic or romantic. Platonic relationships are partially learned from interactions with siblings (if any), and parents serve as role models for romantic relationships later in life. In short, a family is the nucleus around which members revolve, providing support, protection, guidance, and most importantly, love.
I welcome any discussions on this subject in the comment box below. I look forward to interacting with you.
Frank, I enjoyed your article and while certain assertions, such as that “all the family members should feel as though they can express themselves openly, share their feelings, and have their opinions listened to with understanding” are definitely the product of [certain segments of] Western culture, I am quite in agreement with them.
If I may make a suggestion regarding the text itself, the third para. begins: “Having a child can either strengthen the marital bond or drive a wedge between it depending on how strong a footing it is on.” Something – a child, an event, an issue upon which the couple differ sharply – cannot drive a wedge _between_ a marital bond. It may drive a wedge into that bond, or drive a wedge between the spouses; but, as one who has split more than her share of wood over the years, I can assure you that wedges are exceedingly single-minded things…
Wishing you wellness, Frank, and continued fulfillment and success as you continue your spiritual journey/writings.
Hi Paula, thank you for commenting on my post. I realize all cultures do not allow family members to express themselves openly and share their feelings freely. I find this an unfortunate fact of life. Children’s emotions need to be validated by their family members in order to develop completely. While my family allowed me to express my emotions in most instances, they didn’t provide much guidance as to how to channel them appropriately. I had to learn that on my own later in life.
I can tell you from experience a child can drive a wedge between two spouses. My sister and her first husband were on shaky ground when they had their first and only child. The marriage was over within a year from that event. Whether you say a child can drive a wedge between two spouses or the marital bond they share, I intend it to mean the same thing. The marriage either flourishes or deteriorates upon having a child. I hope I addressed your issue properly.
In the mean time, allow me to wish you a joyous holiday season and a Happy and Healthy New Year! May the weather cooperate with your wishes for this time of year.