The family is the basic unit of the society. It is a social unit consisting of parents and children. Considering the functions of the family, one’s role in the family changes over time. The family creates an environment for the socialization of the children. The children grow and later start families of their own. Children learn from what they see and experience in their developing years. Indeed the family has the greatest impact on the development of the children. Take language for instance, the children pick up the language of their parents by imitating the sounds of their parents.
Whether positive or negative, parents in many cases serve as role models for their children. It is of prime importance they ensure that they are serving as good examples to their children.
When conflict, misbehavior, child neglect, or abuse on the part of parents occur continually, leading other members to accommodate such actions, a dysfunctional family results. A major problem of a dysfunctional family is that children who grow up in such families sometimes accept such negative actions as normal. It is the responsibility of parents that their families are functional and not dysfunctional. Wikipedia states thus, “A common misconception of dysfunctional families is the mistaken belief that the parents are on the verge of separation and divorce. While this is true in a few cases, often the marriage bond is very strong as the parents’ faults actually complement each other. In short, they have nowhere else to go. However, this does not necessarily mean the family’s situation is stable. Any major stressor, such as relocation, unemployment/underemployment, physical or mental illness, natural disaster, etc. can cause existing conflicts affecting the children to become much worse.”1
Families have challenges. The foundation of some families was not properly laid. Rather than seeing marriage as an institution which involves self-giving and entails sacrifice, some enter into it with the notion of what they are to get. “For better, for worse” then seems to be “If you make me feel good.”
Marriage is a gift of God to humanity. Two consenting adults come together to start a family. By virtue of this, they take responsibility for whatever happens in the marriage. They bear children and they have the responsibility for bringing up the children in faith and morals. The manner of upbringing the parents give to the child goes a long way in shaping his character. It is with his character that that child will hopefully serve the Church someday. With respect to faith, the family is a domestic Church. It is a community where charity thrives.
The children owe respect and obedience to the parents. God gave them life through their parents. Parents carry out the phenomenal task of bringing up a child spiritually, culturally, and morally. There is hardly anything that a child can give to his parents which equals the parents’ service to him. As a child grows up therefore, he should continue to respect his parents. He should anticipate their wishes and accept their just admonitions. As much as the child is able, he should give moral and material support to his parents in their old age.
Many parents today are not fulfilling their duties to their children. The struggle to provide, pay the bills, and achieve keep a good number of parents away from their children in their formative years. A parent should work hard without neglecting his duty to his family. There should be a balance.
Every parent has the responsibility of the spiritual formation of the children and their moral education. Most parents however relinquish the task of the spiritual formation of their children. This they believe belongs to the Church. Also, when it comes to academics and values, they leave the task for the school. This is a wrong attitude. The first and primary teachers of a child are the parents. It is therefore the duty of parents to bring up their children in various areas of life. What the school and the Church do is to complement the effort of the parents in terms of teaching and formation. A parent hence has to choose a school which the child has to attend, not just any school but the school that corresponds to the conviction of the parent. This is important as the school assists the parents in the growth of the child and not the other way round.
Through the sacrament of marriage, parents have the responsibility of evangelizing their children. They bring the faith to their children. This is best started at an early age. If parents go about this particular task gracefully, they can properly form the interior dispositions of the children. This prepares them to live the faith and can remain a support throughout the children’s lives. That many parents are not fulfilling this task continues to bring damage to the society.
Children learn to socialize in the family. The family prepares them for their life in the society. Without the family, the community cannot perpetuate. It is what the children are brought up with that they bring to the society. The problems in the society point to the loss of values and improper upbringing of children. A child brought up to see black as white will end up teaching his own children same. And so continues the deterioration.
The pressure on families today is enormous. Economic situation is putting a strain on finance which is a very important factor in the family. Financial problems are serious issues in families. It happens sometimes that the wife earns higher than the husband. When there is co-operation and understanding between the man and the woman, this should not be an issue. The two become one in marriage and they need to pull resources together for the good of the family. But sometimes the ego of the man is affected in this sort of situation. It is worse when the man loses his job and is unable to provide for the family. No man is happy in such a situation. Nonetheless, the man should manage his ego or better still kill it.
- Wikipedia, Dysfunctional family, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysfunctional_family, Accessed January 10, 2016
This write-up continues in the next post.
Godwin Nwaokike is the author of Growing Through Life: The Pursuit of Fulfilment. Click the image below to find out more about the book.