Who Needs a Family?

As our family structure undergoes dramatic changes – are we just looking for excuses to be selfish?

Nuclear Family Becomes Obsolete

As our society is evolving do we still need a family? Are there other social organizations like the school, church or government that can provide the basic functions that families always have?

  • Will one day the state be feeding all our children three meals each day?
  • Is the public school the right place in which children should first learn basic norms about right and wrong?
  • Is the local church the only group we can count on to take care of the psychological support that people need as they are growing?

There are two ways of approaching this question. Both are important. One way is to look at what families provide to us as individuals – how do they “work” for each and every one of us. Where would you and I be if we had some other mechanism to “raise” us?

  • Basic physical skills, like potty training, that we have to learn
  • Emotional support, someone who will always love and accept us
  • Spiritual guidance that helps us to find answers to essential questions

The other way of looking at this question is to wonder about our entire society. How does having families as a basic structure help us to create and sustain our civilization? (That seems like a daunting question).

  • How would our culture work if there were no system (family) to instill basic values into members of society?
  • Other integral social institutions like work, school, religion and healthcare depend upon families to create and prepare members of society who can fully participate in essential tasks like attending classes or having ambition.

I think that we probably take family for granted. Once it’s gone we are devastated to realize how dependent we really were on it to keep us whole and functioning.

“Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.”  – George Orwell, 1984

About Randy Wilson

Professor of Sociology at Houston Baptist University I read, think and write about religion and culture in the United States. It's very interesting and very complicated but incredibly exciting. For many years I have been trying to figure out how people learn best (my students and myself). The classes I teach are always in a state of experimentation - trying to reorganize around what students bring to the table and where we have to go.

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