There has been a lot of talk lately about the breaking down of the nuclear family and its negative effects on individuals and society. You only have to look at divorce rates to understand that how family is defined is changing in today’s society. A healthy family and healthy family relationships are one of the most important factors in individual growth and for the society that we wish to create for future generations. Let’s delve a little deeper into the question, “Why is family important?”
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What Is Family?
In the past, defining what family means would have been a much easier task than it is today. The nuclear family consisted of a mother, father, children, and perhaps, other extended family members. There was an unspoken obligation for all members to give support to the other members of the family. This support system took many different forms, including financial support, providing safety, and emotional support.
Now, families come in many different shapes and forms that include single-parent families, blended families, and those who are completely disconnected from any family at all. Our definition of family has changed significantly from that of 50 years ago. Yet, research shows that family ties are still as important as they were in the past. The question is, how do we maintain family values when the new definition of family includes so many different forms of family?
Why Is Family Important for Individuals?
First, let’s talk about why family is important for individuals. The traumatic effects of broken families and the failure of the family support system are well-documented by mental health experts. We are social creatures, and God designed us to be part of a group. When a healthy family connection is missing it can lead to depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol problems, or problems forming attachments and making connections to other people.
There are certainly cases where the family is the source of mental health issues, in which cases, it is important to find support and develop relationships with others outside of the home. Children need to have roots and know where they came from, which is why creating a family tree is so important. It helps them to establish their place in society and understand who they are as individuals. Having a supportive family system can help individuals overcome any challenges that they face along life’s journey.
There is evidence to support the necessity of families in many different life areas. For instance, families who eat meals together form healthier eating habits. Families help children learn to regulate their emotions, lower stress, and they can help you live longer. Families help to create a sense of stability and security, and they help us to find our way back to our true North when we stray off course.
How Is Family Important for Society?
The health of individuals defines the health of society. Without healthy individuals, society experiences many ills. For instance, family bonds help lower crime rates. Family is also an important factor in whether a person will have a successful rehabilitation after committing a crime or whether they are likely to repeat the crime.
Healthy family relationships give people somewhere to turn when they are struggling, and this means that they might not turn to crime or other less desirable coping mechanisms. Many of the problems in today’s society can be connected to whether people have a good family support system or not. When people can depend on their families for support during tough times, they might not need to depend on social services and networks outside of the family as much.
Healthy families also promote a strong economy. Families that include both parents and their children in the same household tend to have a higher income than other family forms. This allows the children to have better educational opportunities, which leads to higher earning potential when they become adults. Children learn by imitating their parents and having parents who work during the day makes it more likely that the children will hold the same work ethic when they become adults.
Eternal Value of a Spiritual Family (The Church)
There is significant Biblical support for the traditional family designed by God. The Bible clearly defines the family structure and sets down rules for family members. For instance, children are to obey their parents, and parents are to guide their children and not provoke them. The Bible also talks about the importance of the Church family as an essential component of healthy growth.
When traditional family structures fail, the Church family can step in and provide the loving support that the person needs to overcome the circumstances that they face. This is not an option, but an obligation that the church family has to each other. We are not to just be there for each other on Sundays and then go home and forget about it until the next worship service. The Church family is supposed to be there to support and encourage each other every day, and in every situation, just as a strong family is supposed to do.
No matter how you look at it, the importance of family cannot be underestimated, whether it is a person’s biological family, friends who are like family, or their Church family. Healthy families create healthy individuals, and healthy individuals create a healthy society. The Bible guides us to hold strong family values and to adhere to the Biblical strategies for success in this area of our lives. The health of family relationships is closely connected to spirituality and the growth of our relationship with God. The bottom line is that we need each other as much as we need God in our lives.