Generally, the family consisted of husband and wife and their offspring. The powerful men possessed many wives and thus they lived in big families with their wives and children.
When man became oriented in agriculture, many families formed a group and stayed permanently at some place for farming. When these people, started partaking of each other’s pain and happiness as neighborly gestures, social relations increased and in this way many families formed a community and the next step was the creation of society. In this way family is that primary group which slowly evolved into human societies.
Family is a fundamental unit of human society. Its foundations rest upon man’s biological and psychological needs. In the modern age, many functions of the family have shifted to other institutions but nevertheless, there are many biological and psychological needs which man cannot satiate without a family.
Havelock Ellis, in his penetrative essays, has shown that the importance of a mother’s milk for the child cannot be obtained in any other manner. Psychologists have proved that the absence of family affection has a serious impact upon the child’s development.
Sexual passions can be satisfied even outside the family but it can never be the source of emotional fulfillment. That ‘man is a social animal’ implies that man cannot live without a family. Thus family is a fundamental unit of society.
Family has a nuclear situation:
The family has a nuclear situation hi human society. In primitive societies the entire organization is based on family units while the division of labour in society is also based on the family.
In the complex structure which is society today, the family has lost some of its importance, but even today the activities of most members are for the family or contiguous to it is seen that people work and labour more for the comfort of their wives, children and other members of family than even for personal comforts. Thus even now the family is the nucleus of a major part of man’s activities.
Proper organization of society depends upon family:
Proper social organization depends upon proper organization of families. If the families disintegrate in some society, then the society will never be sate. One major cause of social disorganization is family disorganization.
Families develop the characters of the members of society. Frued and other psychologists have proved that a child, when a man, exhibits the same character and mental tendencies which he acquires in the family. In the opinion of Adler, a man’s role in the family determines his role in society.
Family socializes the individual:
In this way, a person is socialized hi the family. Defining family, Merrill writes,
“Family is an enduring association of parent and offspring whose primary functions are the socialization of the child and the satisfaction of the members.”
According to Dewey and Tufts the family is a social agency for the education and protection of the race it is hi the family that the child acquires such important qualities as sincerity, sympathy, self-submission and realizing responsibility etc.
It is the character developed in the family which helps the child in becoming an important or responsible member of society. Wright was quite correct in stating that in every family, the child gets an opportunity or free expression of thoughts and developing his entire personality.
Psychologists have incontestably proved that the proper development of the child is impossible without a good environment in the family. The tendencies and habits which he acquires in the family, he finds impossible to shed later on.
According to Freud, the viewpoint of a child towards the senior in the family determines his attitude and viewpoint towards the elders in society. The child’s first school is his home and family.
According to Prof Collingwood, the child’s education should be in the hands of the parents in the family. The parents should participate hi all the child’s activities. A child learns much by imitating his superiors.
Mahatma Gandhi and such thinkers paid personal attention to the development of their children. It is the family which imparts practical education to the child concerning the customs hi society, conducts other important parts of culture, preservation of health, love, sympathy, cooperation etc.
It is evident from the above account that family is the primary and fundamental unit. Confusions remarked quite correctly that if you want to improve society, improve its families. Society will improve automatically when the families improve.
Family is the conveyance of tradition:
The family moulds the character and personality of the individual. It is through the family that society imparts its culture to the individual. Thus, the family is very important in the form of a specializing agency.
In the essay, “The family Conveyance of Tradition”, Paul Schreker wrote that a particular function of the family is to sanction children. Like marriage, the institution of family is constituted by different elements of culture.
It is due to this reason that it has religious, judicial, political, artistic and linguistic aspects. Whenever a new thought impresses itself on an age, the family takes a new form in order that the upbringing and mental tendencies may be harmonious to that thought.
Politics and Law were dominant in Rome, so the family organization there was such as to ensure the upbringing of children in harmony with the culture today, the economic order is predominating.
So the family has changed it’s from, it makes the mental tendencies concur with the new culture. In this way, the family makes the individual harmonious with the culture of society. In tire family, the child acquires knowledge about the current customs, conducts, traditions etc.
Society controls individual through the family:
A social life is a web of relationships. In order to maintain these relations properly a system of rights and duties is organized which will avoid any conflict between the members of society and allow them to develop as complements to each other.
In order to avoid any breach of this harmony between the individuals in society, the society applies numerous kinds of control oil the individual. They are taught to obey the elders, have sympathy for the young and for others.
A strict control over sex relationship is necessary for maintaining the social order otherwise disintegration will spread over the complex social life, of today. Relationships between men and women will lose their solidity. Illegitimate children will be born with no one to look after them.
Although the anthropologists Mead and Malinowski have discovered societies where control over sex relations is inordinately lax without disturbing the social order but such an order is completely contradictory to the thinking of today cultured person.
It is the family which does this work of controlling sex passions for society. In al. cultures the families exercise some degree of control over the unmarried members till they attain the matrimonial state.
In the same way, the family acts as a preventive, to the individual keeping him from bad habits and Crimes like drinking, theft, etc. Not many parents would like their children to embark on careers of crime.
Even the worst person tries to prevent his children 60m adopting similar habits and consequently any objectionable behaviour on the part of the children is punished and laudable effort suitably rewarded. They thus drop bad habits and leant good things. In this way the making of a good citizen in society depends upon parents.
In every society some values and ideals are regarded as high and signs of culture. Whichever person exhibits these in greater quantity is respected in society. For example, Indian society treats religious and spiritual qualities as supreme and a person who is possessed of them is appropriately respected everywhere.
Besides, in India, pre-marital and extra-marital sexual relations are controlled as a necessary measure the responsibility of creating these, values in the individual which are treated highly in society lies with the family.
It is true that the character of every person is different from any other by nature but the family environment also has a big hand in forming them. Most of the famous religious people of the world like Gandhi were deeply influenced by someone religious person in their respective families.
In the building of great men the mothers have always had a major part to play. The difference in the ideals of people related to different cultures is born in their families.
The individual learns his mother-tongue in the family:
In every society the culture, conduct and values are very strongly related to the language spoken. Literature is the mirror of culture in society and literature is based on language which plays by no means a mean part in man’s socialization.
The credit for the complex order of human society much go to his linguistic superiority over other animals and language one picks up hi the family. Human children brought up by animals in the forest are seen completely ignorant in matters of language.
They communicate their wishes by signs in animal language, walk on all fours, and eat raw meat and exhibit the least signs of humanity a child brought up in an animal family grow like an animal as a child brought up in a human family grows into a human being.
To go even further, a child developing in a cultured family is cultured while one brought up in baser circumstances is coarse. The child is first taught language in the family.
This is his mother-tongue through the medium of which he exchanges thoughts. If some Indian child is brought up in some English family English will become his mother-tongue. Thus, the major element in the child’s socialization in the form of language comes to him in his mother’s lap.
Besides the above-mentioned elements, an individual receives a number of other things from his family, not unusually even the person’s occupation in society is decided by his family.
Even in the modem age many people carry on the paternal business and occupation for which they are trained in the family from the start. It is not uncommon occurrence that a jeweler’s child shows an interest in the same business from his infancy and becomes able very soon.
Thus, in brief, the family educates the individual in conduct, behaviour, customs, tradition, religion, culture, laws of thinking, ideals, values, occupations, obedience of duties and proper use of authority, etc. It would be no exaggeration to say that the family is the most important institution in man’s moral development.