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Family: An indispensable institution

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The family plays an important role in the life of every person, and the entire society. It is the foundation of social development. In this report, STELLA OBI looks at the challenges facing families as the world celebrates International Day of Families. She writes:

YESTERDAY the world celebrated International Day of Families. The purpose of the event which falls every May 15, is to celebrate the importance of family and also heighten awareness of issues that affect families all over the world.

International Day of Families was officially declared in 1974 by United Nations after the United Nations General Assembly had passed a resolution named A/RES/47/237 which reasserted to 44/822 in December 1989 and later 46/92 in 1991. These were reasserted and passed to showcase the determination of the United Nations to encourage better life standards and social progress of families across the globe.

The theme for this year is “ Families and Climate Action : Focus on SDG13. This year, the day reflects the importance, the international community attaches to families and their role in development.

Although families all over the world have transformed greatly over the past decades in terms of their structure and as a result of global trends and demographic change, the United Nations still recognises the family as the basic unit of society.

The family plays a vital role in the development of every individual in the society. It is a place where children are given birth to. A place where human life is nurtured. The family is a place where we find support and security. It is a place of solidarity.

As the saying goes, East or West home remains the best. The family provides one with protection and even identity. Family is a place where one experiences love and care. It is also a place where one is very much understood and accepted irrespective of his or her weaknesses. The family protects one from external influences. It assists one in decision-making. Human life and character are shaped within the family.

The family has an important and indispensable role to play in the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.   As charity begins at home, most of the developments we have in our world today emanated from the family. The family has produced great men and women in the society. It is the first place where human development takes place. Most human beings are nurtured and cherished in and within a family.

Every family is different. No two families are the same.  Family can be defined in many different ways. Some families consist of children; some do not. Some consist of one parent; others more than one.

It doesn’t matter how great you think your family is, problems can arise. They can happen gradually or even happen suddenly. No family is safe from family problems. Even with the best intentions, they can happen. Relationships require work, and because being in a family involves having a few different relationships, issues can easily arise.

Although there are so many challenges facing the modern family, most people still see the family as the best gift of God to humanity. Some of these issues include marital separation, divorce poverty, expensive living, poor communication, domestic abuse, violence abuse, lack of health care, employment.

In Africa, the issue of poverty and other cultural practices threaten the well-being and stability of the family. The constant killings in Nigeria as a result of insurgencies, herdsmen and farmers clashes, tribal and religious war have destroyed so many parents, leaving their children orphaned.

Families are lacking when it comes to spending quality time together. The average home has mum and dad working outside the home. Dealing with traffic means that parents have to leave home early while the children are sleeping and return when children are already in bed. Parents get home exhausted and there is very little time spent together. This lack of quality time spent sharing values and communicating takes a toll on family relationships over the years.

Another issue is in the area of poor communication. It is one common problem that exists within the family. Could it be that family members either avoid talking with one another due to past encounter or have not learned to listen well to what others are trying to say through their words, expressions or actions?

A situation where conflicts are not resolved poses a problem to the family. This usually occurs when family members avoid discussing problems or even avoid admitting that there is a problem in the first place.  Impression like this extends conflicts and causes some discomfort and unhappiness.

Some families still have not learnt the skill of negotiating or, for some other reason, cannot let go of bad feelings with little or no regard on how this action can affect the members of the family, bearing in mind that children on their own pattern their attitude after their parents’ bahaviour.

Insufficient emotional support is not left out as a problem facing the family. Families are the most important source of emotional support for children. During the middle years, children, for instance, believe that their emotional support should come from their family.

A  situation where it is not available, they then start seeking for it outside the family which, as a result, put them in danger. It should be noted that children do not perform or develop well without their family support.

Violence and abuse are among the most disconcerting of the challenges that today’s families face. Abuse can occur between spouses, parent and child, as well as between other family members.

The frequency of violence among families is difficult to determine because many cases of spousal abuse and child abuse go unreported. In any case, studies have shown that abuse (reported or not) has a major impact on families and society as a whole. Domestic abuse is also a problem affecting families.

Commenting on International Day of Families, Bimbo Emmanuel opined that with good communication at home, it would help solve some of the issues but in a home where there is no proper communication, problems arise.

Contributing, Dayo Odewale said all families go through difficult times and this is normal. However, sometimes, these problems can become overwhelming. He noted that these problems can be solved through communication which is the key and often the first step to finding solutions.

“Be calm and honest about your concerns when discussing your problems with a loved one”, Odewale said.

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