It has been an observation that every time during a long holiday, be it Easter or Christmas, there is a large traffic of people travelling upcountry. Many people travel for different reasons, but mine has always been one, to be with family. Sometime it’s the only time we sit as the whole lot of us in a round table just to share moments, of joy and sorrow, of successes and failures, of dreams and aspirations, of just ourselves. Sharing laughter.

The dictionary defines family as a set of relations, especially parents and children (nuclear family) or members of a household i.e.  Person’s children or all the descendants of a common ancestor (extended family). The diverse data coming from ethnography, history, law and social statistics, establish that the human family is an institution and not a biological fact founded on the natural relationship of consanguinity i.e. descended from the same ancestor. A “conjugal” family includes only the husband, the wife, and unmarried children who are not of age. The most common form of this family is regularly referred to in sociology as a nuclear family.  A “consanguineal” family consists of a parent and his or her children, and other people. Although the concept of consanguinity originally referred to relations by “blood,” cultural anthropologists have argued that one must understand the idea of “blood” metaphorically and that many societies understand family through other concepts rather than through genetic distance. A “matrilocal” family consists of a mother and her children. Generally, these children are her biological offspring, although adoption of children is a practice in nearly every society. This kind of family is common where women have the resources to rear their children by themselves, or where men are more mobile than women.

 Family is the first institution ever created and was instituted by God himself. In the creation account, God repeatedly recognizes that His creation was good (Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25,31). The only thing that God acknowledges to be “not good” is the incomplete creation of man as a single being: “Then God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Gen 2:20). To rectify the “not good” situation, God declares, “I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). Woman was created to be man’s counterpart, a companion, agreeing with him mentally, physically and spiritually, making him a larger person than he would have been alone, bringing into his life a new feminine perspective he would not have known otherwise. The same holds true for man. He brings to his wife a masculine perspective that enlarges her life, making her a more complete person than she could be without him. Thus, a marriage union not only fills the need for companionship, but it enables a man and a woman to become fuller, more complete persons. Hence the family began with marriage, of Adam and Eve.

One of the primary functions of the family is to produce and reproduce persons, biologically and socially. After creation of male and female, God blessed them and said … Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth… (Gen 1:28). Hence the first function of the family was instituted. From the point of view of these first parent(s), the family was a “family of procreation,” the goal of which was to produce and enculturate and socialize children. However, producing children is not the only function of the family; in societies with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between two people, it is necessary for the formation of an economically productive household.

People argue that the other definition is not a function- but the point of a family is for one or more people to be connected by a feeling of love. Thus, one’s experience of one’s family shifts over time. From the perspective of children, the family is a “family of orientation”: the family serves to locate children socially and plays a major role in their enculturation and socialization.

The family is holy inasmuch as it is to co-operate with God by procreating children who are destined to be the adopted children of God, and by instructing them for His kingdom. Christ not only restored the family to its original type as something holy, permanent, and monogamous, but raised the contract from which it springs to the dignity of a sacrament, and thus placed the family itself upon the plane of the supernatural.

The life with your family is very important it plays a major role in your development into the person you become. The goals you set for yourself in your life are very much dependent on the life you have with your family. Those children who belong to the families which have a rich education background tend to learn more. They are interested in learning more and thus it is easy for their parents to get them educated. Similarly, for example, children who belong to a family from which a few of the people are in the field of professional sports, the kids tend to have an interest in sports and they also plan to go into the same field. The sons and daughters of stars from the film industries usually plan to follow the suit of their parents. Thus it is the effect of your family life which guides you to decide what profession you want to do as an adult. However in as much as this may be applicable, it is also important to note that whatever virtues and values that are nurtured stay in our psyche and guides us unconsciously. For instance a certain father, who is a driver by profession always advising his children to work hard not to become like him professionally, as in they become better professionals than himself always encourage his children to be hardworking so that they may become better academically and professionally.

Family life is also important in the sense that it gives you your basic strength as a person. The people who have a smooth and well settled family life are generally less scared of life. Those who are a part of a broken family are generally less confident. These people always expect the worst in life. This is a general state of mind which results in building up of a negative personality. Family life is also important to people as it is the part of our life which has more effect on us compared to any other part of our life. The way a mother treats her kids is actually the deciding factor of what those kids will be like as human beings when they grow up.

Child development can be understood as the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional maturation of human beings from conception to adulthood, a process that is influenced by interacting biological and environmental processes. Of the environmental influences, the family arguably has the most profound impact on child development.

They say the family is the basic unit of the society. You kill this unit and the society can as well die. It is this principle that makes most of us associate societal decadence in morals to failure of the society. The family teaches us virtues, it fights battles for us and with us, and no sane member of the family would gladly watch us make mistakes without trying to help, because it is the basic unit where love, trust, care and any other good virtues are nurtured or acquired and exercised honestly and truthfully. It where we first learn to give a bit of ourselves to those around us; and in giving we gain so much more.

As important as family life is, it is a big problem in the world of today where the family units are breaking up more often and the divorce rates have grown very high. The higher divorce rates result in more broken families that in turn lead to a lot more number of children who suffer through this insecurity in their early ages and as a result they are not that stable. These people tend to have a variety of fears and insecurity. They do not have the courage to face their life. As family life plays a very important role in shaping you as a person, lack of security in your family life makes you a bit unstable as a person.

The importance of the family unit cannot be overemphasized. However, this same unit of the society that brings so much is under threat from the same society it creates. Satan is seeking to destroy you and your loved ones (1 Pet. 5:8)! Satan hates the family unit and wants to do everything possible to dismantle and ruin it, and he has desired to do so since the beginning; Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Lot and his daughters, etc. (Matt Costella, 2010).

The first threat that can lead to problems down the road is that families fail to spend time together. In a survey conducted for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Corp., thirty-five percent of participants pointed to time constraints as the most important reason for the decline in family values. We live in an age of mobility—we are always on the go. Since the invention of the automobile, life has never been the same. As a result, long work commutes, kids’ sports and music activities and various commitments within the community or the church leave the family scattered and exhausted once they are reunited each evening. While obviously nothing is intrinsically wrong with having to drive a distance in order to work or being an active participant in one’s school, church or community, when the believer allows these things to usurp the time that should be spent as a family unit, then a change needs to be made. Another reason why families fail to spend time with each other is that we live in an age of self-centeredness—we are always striving to fulfill our own desires. Dad is working to climb the corporate ladder while Mom is busy running the PTA while Johnny is playing on the school basketball team while Susie just wants to hang out with her friends. We do not take the time to get to know one another because we are too busy pursuing our own personal interests at the expense of pursuing a proper relationship with our spouses or children or parents or siblings. We do not consider the needs or best interests of others within our family because, sad to say, we often are not even thinking about them. We are only interested in going where we want to go, in buying what we want, in meeting our own perceived needs. Just like the world around us that we are so quick to criticize, life is all about “me.”  But if we truly love those to whom we are the closest, we will take the time to seek their best interest, not our own.

The second threat to the family unit—and probably the most common—is the failure to communicate. The lack of clear, honest, consistent communication is the primary cause of most problems in any type of relationship, whether it is in the home (between husbands and wives, parents and children), and the church (between pastors and laypeople) or even in the Christian life (between the believer and God). Just as our fellowship with God is hindered when we fail to consistently communicate with Him through prayer and study of His Word, our relationship with members of our family suffers when we do not communicate regularly, clearly and honestly with them. It is vitally important that husbands and wives communicate openly with one another. No subject should be “taboo” or off limits for discussion within the bond of marriage. When this is the case, frustration, anger or bitterness often take root in one or both spouses, which, in turn, can lead to untold problems. Husbands and wives need to remember that communication is a two-fold process involving both speaking and listening.

The third threat to the family within the home itself is the failure to model godliness. Hypocrisy abounds in Christian homes—children see their parents talk one way at church and act another way at home; they hear their parents tell the pastor they appreciated hearing God’s Word but then at home criticize the teaching of Scripture; they tell their children to make their relationship with God a priority in their lives but then lead their children to make everything but God a priority. A big example to this is the teaching of Chastity, where we are all called to purity, to model Christ who was purity itself, but the society acts otherwise by promoting fornication, gayism and lesbianism among others. Gay marriage is one of several threats to the traditional family unit that undermines ‘the future of humanity itself’, (Pope Benedict XVI). It also applies to the procreative act of marriage that is being undermined by family planning activist and reproductive health rights’ advocates.

Finally, the last threat to the family unit is a failure to understand the weight of responsibility that Scripture places upon each relationship. The Bible is certainly not silent when it comes to how each family member is to treat one another and what God expects of each relationship. Husbands and wives have the God-given responsibility to cherish and edify one another until death. This is not to be taken lightly. Divorce is simply not an option when two believers are in the bond of marriage. If problems exist in the marriage, then it is likely due to one of the aforementioned threats—lack of time spent together, selfishness or lack of communication. Spouses need to fix, not flee, their problems, looking to God for the grace needed to get through them. Parents have the responsibility to train up their children to know and love God. This is not to be taken lightly. So many parents are concerned about their children’s academic, athletic and musical endeavors or their social well-being that they lose sight of what is most important in light of eternity—children who grow up to love and glorify the Lord in all things. Children are responsible to love, honor and obey their parents. This is not to be taken lightly either. Obedience and respect are not optional, nor are they to be intermittent. A family cannot properly function without the children fulfilling their divinely given responsibilities as well. Unless every family member understands the gravity and the importance of our family relationships and our responsibilities to one another, the family unit will break down.

We are a product of the environment, but more so the product of those people we spend the large part of our nurtured lives with-family. They contribute in shaping the people we become consciously or otherwise. A family unit is the unit which builds up a person’s personality. How you behave and what you become in life is very much dependent on your family life. Psychologists believe that a child learns the most from his or her family life. The way your family members deal with you has a lifelong effect on your personality. It is this realization then that helps us to sit back and appreciate this unit that breed so much to the world. So to the family, which daily shapes the community we live in, I raise my glass… May it last long, may we protect it with all we got, may we fight for it but more so may we learn to nurture  and treasure it…