Over the years there has been much discussion on the family, as well as a vast of studies on the importance of the family. Yet, for some the question still surfaces regarding the family and its importance toward our continual development and growth as a society.
The first question that needs to be addressed is what constitutes a family which is a prime area of debate in the sociology of the family as well as in politics and religion. Social conservatives tend to define the family in terms of structure with each family member filling a certain role. Sociologists, tend to define family in terms of the manner in which members are related to one another, rather than a strict configuration of status and roles. In this situation family can be defined as a socially recognized group, usually joined by blood, marriage, cohabitation or adoption, which forms an emotional connection that serves as an economic unit to society.
Thus, sociologist identify different types of families based on how one enters into that family unit. A family of orientation refers to the family into which a person is born. While, a family of procreation describes a family that is formed through marriage. These distinctions have cultural significance related to issues of lineage.
Drawing on these two sociological paradigms, the sociological understanding of what constitutes a family can be explained by symbolic interactionism as well as functionalism. These two theories indicate that families are groups in which participants view themselves as family members and act accordingly. Therefore, families are groups in which people come together to form a strong primary group of connection that maintain emotional ties to one another over a long period of time. More importantly, families provide for one another’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. Parents care for children, providing them with socialization skills. Then later in life, adult children care for elderly parents. In the end this cycle that translates into the broader community, as a society learns to socialize with each other and care for each other thus forming the eternal family of God.
In the end, it is the family structure that enables a civilization to come together and live in harmony and in peace with one another, so as to produce a productive society. However, over the years, a question must be asked, as a city and a nation as we witness the continued rise in violence within our families, our community our schools and even our places of work. What has happened to the institution of our families? What has happened to the passing on of the values that deal with the sacredness of life? What has happened to instill within our children and youth respect for their own life, and the life of others, that resorting to violence is not the answer in settling a disagreement.The one way to work to the end of the violence within our community is to strengthen the institution of our family. It is of vital importance that our families come together regularly in fellowship and in union of love and respect, so that all members of the family can realize their own value and the united value of their family and the world family as well.
Fr. Peter Weiss, S.S.J.
PRAYER FOR FAMILIES
We bless your name, O Lord,
For sending your own incarnate Son,
To become part of a family,
So that, as he lived its life,
He would experience its worries and its joys.
We ask you Lord,
To protect and watch over this family,
So that in the strength of your grace
It members may enjoy prosperity,
Possess the priceless gift of your peace,
And, as the Church alive in the home,
Bear witness in this world to your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.