Over the years, the textbook definition of “the family” has disappeared. Every family is unique and has its own dynamic and for the most part, society has learned to adapt to these changes. From homosexual couples, to dual income families or even single parents, families have learned to survive based on their unique situations, as opposed to the functionalist idea of the ideal family which involves heterosexual parents and children, who through proper socialization and acceptance of social norms, work to meet the needs of society (“Functionalist”). Although each family is different, there are six functions of the family that work together to keep each society functioning. Each one of these functions plays an important role in each household and works to keep Canada a strong country (Holloway & Witte, 2010, p. 8).
Coming from a single parent home, my family has always battled the stereotype that single parents cannot support their children. Just like sociologist Marrissa Hick says in her article The Single Parent Battle on Stereotypes, this is not always the case. Single parents can be just as capable of caring and providing for their families as dual parent households (Hick, 2014, p. 1), and I am living proof of this. My dad has raised me as well as my two other sisters and we have never had to worry about our economic situation. Just like most other families, we successfully take on the sixth function of a family by performing the economic function of producing and consuming goods and services (Holloway & Witte, 2010, p. 9).
For a family of four including one man, and three teenage girls, grocery shopping is a mandatory part of our weekly schedule. By grocery shopping, we are not only building the economy and supporting the government through taxes, we are also helping business owners make money and continue to sustain their work. Without families like ours constantly providing for these businesses, many of them would fail and the government would not be as strong since not as much money would be coming in from businesses. My dad is not simply a single parent, he is also a Doctor, and his income helps provide for our family as well as provide support to families in need of his services. The family is both the fundamental unit of society as well as a major source of a countries economic success, which is why my families’ role is a very important one.
People do not always understand the fragility of a first impression, so we often take them for granted. We refuse to acknowledge the fact that these impressions have the ability to gravely shape a relationship or precede us wherever we go. It is for these reasons that I believe that the third function of a family; socializing children, is one of the most important ones (Holloway & Witte, 2010, p. 8). In his book Key Ideas in Sociology, Martin Slattery talks about anti-social behavior, as behavior that threatens the values and norms of society. This behavior can lead to acts of discrimination, crime or deviance of any kind (Slattery, 2003, p. 134). Growing up with an African father, I learnt very young that none of these behaviors would be accepted, so I was socialized in order to act in an appropriate manner no matter where I was or whom I was with, which made me a very adaptable person.
This function relates heavily to the law enforcement system in Canada since several anti-social behaviors often lead to criminal acts. Some Common examples of anti-social behavior are; excessive noise and nuisance behavior, being drunk or rowdy in public places, vandalism, graffiti and other damage to property and leaving rubbish or litter lying around. An ASBO is a court order, which can be made on anyone aged 10 or older who has acted in an anti-social manner. An ASBO is a civil order, not a criminal penalty, which means that it won’t appear on a person’s criminal record. However, breaking the terms of an ASBO is a criminal offense, which could mean a fine or a prison sentence of up to five years (“Anti-social behavior”). When families properly socialize their children, all of this trouble can be avoided thus keeping the child as well as people around them safe.
My parents started having children very soon after their marriage since as very religious people, procreation is very important to both of them. This is why they see the first function of a family; reproduction, as the most important role. As I have continued to grow, I too have begun to see the great value of this function. Having children is no longer the economic necessity it used to be; children aren’t needed to work to support their families, or needed as soldiers or even created just so families can fight the high child mortality rates (Holloway & Witte, 2010, pp. 11-12). Children no longer have such rendering responsibilities and are often born simply to bring happiness to a person or persons.
Although this may be so, for several institutions in Canada, having children is still very beneficial. According to a functionalist, the function of the family is to ensure the progression of society by reproducing and socializing new members (“Functionalism”). Population growth promotes a wealthier economy as well. Children are consumers of goods and services which helps make money for businesses and the government. Children are also a very important part of the education system, since without children many school systems would not be necessary. My dad always tells me that children are our future, without children there would be no possibility of a future for Canada.
Many religions also value children, so they also see this function as very important. For example, in Islam, a woman is meant to be married and bear children as part of her duty in life, sex is not for pleasure it is only to ensure that procreation is possible. It is believed that the strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. This belief is the reason that the way a family functions is so important; families are needed in order for a society to thrive. A country can only truly be successful when each family, no matter the dynamic is working hard to properly perform their function. Whether it is by supporting, businesses, the government, and education systems or simply adhering to religious customs, family functions work with other institutions to maintain balance and success within a society.
Anti-social behaviour. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2014, from http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/anti-social-behaviour
Functionalism. (2011, May 6). Retrieved September 13, 2014, from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/functionalism.htm
Holloway, M., & Holloway, G. (2010). Individuals and families: Diverse perspectives. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
Slattery, M. (2003). Key ideas in sociology. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.