Family : Definition, types & functions


We have described in article :

Define family

Types of family

Disadvantages of nuclear family

Functions of family relevent health.


Definition of family : 

Family : The family is a primary unit in all societies. It is a group of biologically related individuals living together and eating from a common kitchen. The term family differs from household in that all the members of a household may not be blood relations, e.g. servants.

Types of family : 

  1. Nuclear/elemental family : It consists of the married couple and their children while they are still regarded as dependents. They tend to occupy the same dwelling space. In the nuclear family, the husband usually plays a dominant role in the household.
  2. Joint family :
  • It consists of a number of married couples & their children who live together in the same household.  All the men are related by blood and women of the household are their wives, unmarried girls and widow of the family kinsmen.
  • All the property is held in common.
  • All the authority is vested in the senior male member of the family.
  • The familial relations enjoy primacy over marital relations. Early & arranged marriage is advocated toward off any threat from marital relationship.

 3 .Three generation family :  It is confused with joint family. It is fairly common in the West. This tends to be a household where there representatives of 3 generations. It occurs usually when young couples are unable to find separate housing accommodation and continue to live with their parents and have their own children.

Functions of the family :

  1. Residence : Family provides a clean & decent home to its member.
  2. Division of labour : The male had the sole duty to cam a living and support the family. The female had the total responsibility for the day to day care of children and running of the household. In industrialized & urbanized communities, there is less marked distinction between the functions of men & women.
  3. Reproduction & bringing op of children.
  4. Socialization.
  5. Economic function.
  6. Social care :  Family provides social care by
  • Giving status in a society to its members, i.e. use of family names where it occurs. some have a strong feeling of kinship that they belong to a particular family. it denotes some kind of association with someone distinguished in that particular society.
  • Protecting its members from insult, defamation etc. Regulating marital activities of its members.
  • Regulating to a certain extent political, religious and general social activities.
  • Regulating sex relations through incest-taboos.

Disadvantages of nuclear family :

  1. Couple doesn’t get a chance to learn anything from their elders.
  2. Children don’t get proper love and affection from their grandparents.
  3. Couples lack patience due to distance from in-laws.
  4. Couples have to share all the responsibilities with themselves whether they possess its knowledge or not.
  5. Social values and morality will be decreased.
  6. Grandparents will be deprived from love, affection, social security from their children & grandchildren’s.
  7. Old peoples may be the burden for the society & the family (both economically & socially).
  8. Nuclear family gives raise the crude ‘old home culture.

Functions of family relevant to health behavior and health :

  1. Child rearing : Physical care (feeding, nutrition, hygiene, sleep, clothing, discipline, habit training) of the dependent young in order that they may survive to adulthood and perpetuate the family.
  2. Socialization : By socialization is meant teaching the young the values of society, and transmitting information, culture, beliefs, general codes of conduct, by example and precept in order to make them fit for membership in the wider society of which the family is a part.
  3. Personality formation : The family act as a “placenta” excluding various influences, modifying others that pass through it and contributes some of its own in lying the foundation of physical, mental and social health of the child.
  4. Care of dependent adults :

    Care of the sick and injured.

    Care of women during pregnancy and childbirth.

    Care of the aged and handicapped.

  5. Stabilization of adult personality : The family provides an opportunity to release the tension and stress so that the individual can attain the mental equilibrium. Mental illness, alcoholism, narcotic addiction, and certain chronic illnesses such as peptic ulcer, colitis, high blood pressure, rheumatism & skin diseases are accepted as ‘stress diseases’.
  6. Familial susceptibility to disease : Certain diseases such as hemophilia, colour blindness, diabetes, and mental illness are known to run through families Schizophrenia, psychoneurosis and some forms of mental deficiency are also known to have a familial incidence. The family is often the playground also for such communicable diseases as tuberculosis, common cold, scabies, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, dysentery, diarrhoea, and enteric fever
  7. Broken family : Children who are victims of broken families have been found to display in later years psychopathic behavior, immature personality and even retardation of growth, speech and intellect Children from these families may drift away to prostitution, crime and vagrancy.
  8. Problem families : Problem families are those which lag behind the rest of the community. Children who are reared in such an environment are victims of prostitution, crime, and vagrancy.

1 Response

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