The Importance of Families
“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them” Desmond Tutu.
The "International Day of Families" is celebrated in Australia by over a hundred thousand families each year. Stronger families lead to a stronger community. Regarded as one of the top ten nations in the world today for raising families by international publications*, Australians value the importance of families.
But have we really reflected on why families are important and what impact they have on us as individuals and the community at large?
Everyone is born into a family, but not everyone gets a healthy one. Even if you haven’t been privileged to have a good birth family, many often create a chosen family in their life. It is said that “Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love.”
According to psychologists and sociologists, here are some reasons why families are important.
1. Families set the stage for future relationships.
Our first relationship from birth is with our parents and siblings and this provides a model as well as an expectation of the family that we will create.
2. They provide a stable base to rely on as a safety net.
We all have challenges in life and here’s where family comes in. Feeling accepted when the chips are down or when you are going through struggles is especially important during these times. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in his “Theory of Human Motivation” 1943, “Safety Needs” rank second, just after physiological needs such as food and shelter.
3. They are a source of encouragement, support, and affection.
Oftentimes, people reach great heights because of the support of their families and those who believe in them. Knowing that someone “has your back no matter what” gives us the support we need to succeed in our ambition.
4. Families establish a sense of belonging to something greater tha oneself.
Family history and tradition is ingrained in the thread of family life. Looking back at the family tree, we find a sense of where we have come from and our connection to the past. We also identify that we are part of the puzzle and not the only puzzle piece that matters. This is also why family traditions should be continued to be upheld.
5. They are vital to our mental health.
Studies have shown that family time is critical in the mental health of individuals. This has been linked to a reduced incidence of depression and loneliness particularly amongst young adolescence. So, for this International Day of Families, reinstate or celebrate the joys of having family dinners together.
6. Family Quality Time is linked to better academic performance.
Quality time spent together as a family as well as a stable parental relationship delivers better academic performance, according to numerous research.
7. Families teach important lessons and lay the foundation of value systems.
Our world views and value systems are often formed while we were still young. Children learn about consequences of their actions and what expectation is held for their behaviour. These lessons provide a framework of our worldview and guide us in making the right decisions.
8. Strong families form the backbone of the nation.
Strong families build strong communities which in turn establish a strong nation, which is why it is the very backbone of our country. “The family is the first essential cell of human society” Pope John XXIII.
In commemorating the International Day of Families 2021, let us reflect on our families – to whom we are related by blood and those whom we have adopted as our family – and be grateful for how much they have loved, encouraged and supported us in our lives.