Over the past decade or so, there have been evident changes transcending the structure and dynamics of family within our society at large. With the changing times, we can find ourselves so engulfed in the fast-paced and competitive race in the world, that the value attached to the family has undergone a huge transition. As we commemorate today as International Family Day, let us rethink about the contributions and the importance of our own family to ensure a societal change across lives.
Value of Family One’s family is obviously the first agency of socialization in an individual’s life, as from the moment a new life is born, it is typically the family (or the caregivers/guardians) on which the child depends on to fulfil the basic needs of survival and protection. It is the family which serves as a setting for much of our growth and experience, especially during the growing years of our lives. In fact, it would not be incorrect to say that the family serves as a primary ecological niche which provides for the socialization and survival of the next generation. Especially in a collectivistic society like India, all the more emphasis is given to the culture-specific concepts of interdependence and cohesion. And the roots of such interdependence inevitably stem from the family or the near and dear ones who formed the primary support for an individual.
Family as a cohesive unit provides for the unconditional support, on which one can rely on without a second thought. Family as an institution provides the basis of our closest bonds of love, care and affection. This could include both the family we are born in, and subsequently the family we choose to create as we attain subsequent developmental phases in life. It breeds a sense of shared responsibility within us. Further, it is the family which as an institution serves as the foundation for the internalization of an individual’s values, tenets and beliefs, which could then be moulded and adapted over the course of the individual’s experiences in the future. Finally, it is this family which provides the centre for transmission of values and culture through the growing generations.
Family Support Even though we might be spending a larger part of our times away from the family, be it at school, college, workplace or any other social situation, it is ultimately our family on whom we tend to inevitably fall back upon. Despite of the heights of our growth as an individual in the society, the family serves as the basis of our deeply held roots and the foundation for our growth and development. The backing provided by our family tends to be stemming from an unconditional support that is almost impossible to find elsewhere. Humans, as social beings, rely on the family, and subsequently the peers, and other tertiary ecological systems to fulfil their needs as an individual within the larger network of the community they live in. It is the family members, who form the primary web of interpersonal relationships for us.
Need to Invest within the Family Typically, more emphasis is given to the role of a family during the nurturance of a new generation, and more often than not, with the growing years of the child, the family members also tend to focus back on their own living, at times forgetting the existence of the family as a cohesive unit. Dearth and scarcity of time and energy is a very common complaint to hear today, be it amongst children, adolescents or adults. And it is not uncommon to observe older adults, post retirement complaining of having too much time on their hands, and wishing that their family or near and dear ones would have some moments to spare for them. Further, we can witness the inter-generational gap increasing over the years, with a wider gap amongst closer generations. This is a trend which is a likely manifestation of the decreasing communication between them, leading to growing distance and disconnect within a family. Further, the flood of invasion by technological advancements which can be witnessed today is also suggestive of the growing dependence, which is breeding a growing tendency of social alienation and even isolation across the society.
The cliché of ‘quality family time’ has almost lost its meaning in the contemporary world, with most of us glues to our mobile phones, being absorbed within the entanglements of our various commitments and priorities in the outside world. It would be easier for some us to complain of being ‘disconnected’ if we were to be deprived of our technological gadgets even for a couple of hours, rather than if we have been unable to be in touch with our own families for a couple of days! In addition to the need to emphasize family time in the midst of our fast-paced world today, it is also important to pay attention to our family communication patterns, which form the essence of the social institution. It is simply a matter of prioritizing and giving value to what matter to us. The quality of communication and relationships within our family members determines the basis of our interpersonal functioning in the outside world, while further serving as the primary model of vicarious learning, not just for children but for the adults as well. Further, it is our own investment within our family which ensures reciprocity to our own expectations. Therefore, it is our societal responsibility to revive the value of the family into our lives today, in order to ensure strengthening of interpersonal bonds to thrive on while at the same time cherishing their irreplaceable role in our lives.