The family is the most important institution of society
- Pages: 12
- Word count: 2913
- Category: Family Values
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Extended families in the African American Community are more beneficial than nuclear families. Interestingly, since the beginning of time the concept of a family has changed dramatically, especially in the African American community. As some may say, family is the base and the most important institution that’s makes up a society. There are currently two strong types of families which include a “nuclear family” that consist primarily of a mother and father figure, and a “extended family” which consists of multiple generations: aunts, uncles, grandparents etc. this paper will attempt to provide information supporting the argument that the “extended family” will allow African Americans to build a better sense of togetherness in their families, compared to a traditional “nuclear family.” “The concept of an extended family emerged as economic troubles began to occur. Slowly over time, the concept of extended families began to vanish.” Said Dr. Abdul Karim from the department of political science at Howard university, “the problem with this is that children are starting to lose the true value of family benevolence. (Karim 2012)
In the other hand there still a counter argument that claims that “the nuclear family provides a strong bonding experience for immediate family members. The smaller family size allows individualized attention towards partners and children which creates lifelong bonds.” Said Marcus well. Extended families vs. nuclear families, which one is more effective in raising a family? Extended families are defined as a family consisting of multiple generations under one roof. “The concept of extended families was very common especially in the African American community. In the 1880s, the idea of extended families was widely spread and began to outweigh the number of nuclear families of that time period.” (Abdul Karim 2012). Extended families were highly beneficial because they led to less economic troubles and a more effective way to raise children. As a result of urbanization, higher education and industrialization there became a decrease in extended families and an increase in African American nuclear families. With the major decrease in extended families also came an increase of single-parent households, low-income families, and a higher crime rate in the African American community.
African Americans have lost the true value of the family as an institution. From the 1880s to now, family as a concept has declined dramatically, statistics show this statement to be true. “The Social Learning Theory supports the view that people learn behaviors based on the actions of the people around them. This theory would show that if people are surrounded around their family members that are raising them in a positive manner, they will instill the behaviors and morals of those around them. (karim 2012) Extended families have played a significantly large role in shaping the true meaning of what a family is. The concept of an extended family has come to a significant decline. This decline has caused African Americans to virtually lose the true value of the family as an institution drastically since the 1880s. As stated in this paper the concept of extended families was beneficial in times of economic hardships.
In a book written by Gary R. Lee entitled Family Structure and Interaction (1982) Lee argues that “extended families would be important for people living in poverty because it makes it easier to share resources.” This book further states that the concept of nuclear families derived from the rise in industrialization. Robert Bernard Hill conducted a research experiment not only focusing on the problems faced by black families but he recommended practical actions that can be taken to better the conditions of black families. In his book Research on the African-American Family (1993) Hill stated that over time the increase in unemployment, single parent homes, teenage pregnancies, and violence created some of the problems that African American families are facing in today’s society. In order to make a change in the African American community Hill recommends “that there needs to be a change in family values, changes in the community and lastly, family structure. For the betterment of the community, the way African American families are structured today needs to change.”
Clarence Earl Walker in his article entitled Breaking Strongholds in the African American Family (1996) states that black families are starting to become “dysfunctional.” Walker addresses the problems in the current African American family structure opposed to the stronger family values that were shared by previous generations. K. Sue Jewell in her book Survival of the Black Family: The Institutional Impact of American Social Policy (2003) discussed the factors that need to be taken in order save the African American community in order to save them from further economic despair. Jewell suggested “that if the African American community focuses more on socio- psychological issues rather than just economics, it would do well.” In 2005 Dr. Bengtson a current professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles wrote an article on the importance of extended families. In his article Bengtson explains how “extended families are the most valuable resource for families in the 21st century.”
According to Bengtson nuclear families do not provide the strong family ties and support system that are found within extended families. Having a strong support system and even stronger family ties are factors that are needed for the young youth of today. In 2006 Jennifer Baker conducted a survey that was published by the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri. The survey was on rates in divorce in the United States. Baker’s survey consists of subsections including gender and age. The rates in divorce in the United States have doubled since the early 19th century. Divorce is a common reason for the decline in extended families. When the divorce rate was lower the number of extended families was at a greater rate. In order to fully understand the importance of extended families one must first identify where the concept first evolved. The book Black Families (2007) fully discusses where the exact origin of the term extended families evolved. In this paper it is stated that “extended families evolved in times of economic hardships but it is not defined where. Extended families evolved in indigenous African societies, the tradition was brought to America through slaves in 1619.” Before the term “extended families” were used these households were known as compounds.
William A. Havilands’ book, Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge (2010), focused on the 192 different countries in which extended families exist. Haviland states that in those countries 48 percent of families practice the concept of extended families. In retrospect he defined the term opposite of extended families which is nuclear families. Nuclear families defined by the author are, “smallest family unit consisting of one and or two parents. In the 1950’s around 60 percent turned into this model of living. Most recently, many researchers searched for reasons that caused the decline of extended families. Michael Rendall for example published an article in Journal of Marriage and Family (2011) giving his theory on the subject. According to Rendall “natural disasters are a common factor in the decline of extended families. Another contributing factor is the increase of divorce rates.” In the other hand the concept of nuclear families also have its advantages. In today’s traditional nuclear families, it is common to have dual incomes. Both parents work to provide financial stability for the household, creating a larger cash flow to supply the basic family needs of housing, food and healthcare. Financial stability also allows the parents to provide additional extracurricular opportunities for their children, such as music or athletic lessons.
These opportunities allow children to flourish socially and develop a higher level of confidence Parents in a nuclear household are more likely to have a higher consistency with raising their children – meaning teaching discipline and appropriate behavior. Children receive consistent messages about behavioral expectations. Nuclear families have more daily routines, like eating dinner together, and spending more time together, adding to consistency. Nuclear families play an important role in the development of personality of individuals. Children are closer to the parents and can have more free and frank discussion about their problems with parents which helps for the better development of their personality. This is one way of turning out good citizens. The lady of the house gets enough time to look after her children. She also gets time to plan and manage her house independently, according to her own idea. There is no interference of elders. Her husband can also devote more attention to the wife in nuclear family in discussing their plans for the future, the children’s’ education, etc. In a nuclear family, which is an immediate family, there can be no misunderstanding of any sort, and they enjoy a harmonious atmosphere. All enjoy independent lives and can be engaged in any economic activities to supplement family income.
The will and desires of children are favorably considered and are given proper weight. Typically, all members of a nuclear family are emotionally secure as there is no one else to act superior to the others, creating any complex. All are given equal weightage. These days, it is common for both the parents to work and earn money. This provides better financial stability for the household, creating a larger cash availability for the basic family needs of housing, food and healthcare. The children can afford to take up extra-curricular activities like music, sports, etc. and such opportunities allow them to flourish socially and develop a higher level of self-confidence. One important thing the parents need to remember is that home and family comes first and foremost in their lives, and then only comes the question of earning extra money. The parents need to make clear demarcation between the two and spend quality time with the children.
There are many cases where the mother gives up a lucrative job and stays home when the children reach school going age. Yet the nuclear family model isolates people from relationships and other relatives. It breaks down the extended family which is not good as relatives are beneficial especially in times of hardship. Also Due to the fact that sometimes it can be one partner working, the tendency of that spouse burning out is likely as he/she tries very hard to make sure everyone’s needs are met. For instance, the mother can be cook, babysitters, maid and a time breadwinner. This will leave her not time to pamper and nurture herself and While the idea of less stress and conflict could be an advantage to nuclear family it can also be a disadvantage. Conflicts are part of life and skills to resolving them are beneficial in every aspect. Since people within a nuclear family tend to develop similar thinking habits this could create a problem if the person was to interact with people outside their unit particularly those with differing ideas and opinions. Nuclear families tend to help members develops greater independence and self-sufficiency. a nuclear one plays a crucial role in the personality development of individuals.
Children are closer to their parents. They may have enough time to discuss about their problems, resulting in personality development. This also allows kids to know what is good or bad. It is an opportunity for them to feel how their parents love them and vice versa. Interestingly. In nuclear families, woman’s condition is much better than joint families. She has ample time to take good care of her children. She can also manage her house according to her ideas without the elder’s interference unlike extended family. Furthermore, her husband devotes his attention to the wife. Still, extended African American families are a major resource in assisting individuals in coping with life problems and during times of need. This is particularly evident among black families who have historically been instrumental in helping members cope with adverse life con- dictions such as racial discrimination, poverty, and chronic unemployment. Black extended families provide various forms of support to adolescent mothers (Burton & Dilworth-Anderson, 1991; Burton, Dilworth-Anderson & Merriwether-de Vries, 1995), help elderly adults with health problems (Dilworth-Anderson, Williams & Cooper, 1999), provide aid to those confronting a serious personal problem (Chatters, Taylor & Neighbors, 1989; Neighbors & Jackson, 1984; Taylor, Hardison & Chatters, 1996) and assist family members who are seeking employment (Taylor & Sellers, 1997). Certainly, one of the most important and noteworthy forms of aid that black families provide to their members is housing.
A tradition of research documents the nature and circumstances of extended household living arrangements in black communities. In some instances, housing is extended to individuals who are coping with a serious personal problem, which has put housing in jeopardy. Several authors have suggested that extended household living arrangements reflect specific cultural characteristics operating within black communities that transcend economic circum- stances. Although extended household arrangements typically involve family members, in some cases close friends become members of the household. This brief research note examines the variety of responses given for why individuals leave their own home and reside within the household of a family member or friend. The literature review for this paper draws on three bodies of research. The first area examines research on black-white differences in household composition, with a specific focus on co-residency and extended households. Next, research on the practice informal adoption, as a means by which families assume guardianship and childcare responsibilities of youth without involving the legal system, is discussed. Finally, research on housing availability and household composition is presented. Certainly, one of the most important and noteworthy forms of aid that black families provide to their members is housing.
A tradition of research documents the nature and circumstances of extended household living arrangements in black communities. In some instances, housing is extended to individuals who are coping with a serious personal problem, which has put housing in jeopardy. Several authors have suggested that extended household living arrangements reflect specific cultural characteristics operating within black communities that transcend economic circum- stances. Although extended household arrangements typically involve family members, in some cases close friends become members of the household. This brief research note examines the variety of responses given for why individuals leave their own home and reside within the household of a family member or friend. The literature review for this paper draws on three bodies of research. The first area examines research on black-white differences in household composition, with a specific focus on co-residency and extended households. Next, research on the practice informal adoption, as a means by which families assume guardianship and childcare responsibilities of youth without involving the legal system, is discussed.
Finally, research on housing availability and household composition is presented. Unfortunately, there is a decline in extended families. According to an article published in Journal of Marriage and Family (2011) by Michael Rendall natural disasters can be a common factor on the decline of extended families. An example of this could be Hurricane Katrina which struck New Orleans and was categorized as the one of five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Urbanization is also a factor that contributed to the decline of extended families in America. As a result of urbanization, which drastically developed in the 19th century, families began move from their big multigenerational homes in the country to start their own life in the cities. In the 1880s only, fifteen percent of the population lived in cities today a little more than eighty percent of the population occupies the cities. Fortunately for the concept of extended families the process of urbanization is slowly coming to an end.
Another possible reason for the decline in the concept of extended families is the increasing rate of divorce. Divorce not only affects the two people that were in the marriage but is also affects the whole family. With such high divorce rates marriage as an institution between two people has begun to decline because people are starting to lose faith that their marriage will last. The tradition of marriage is no longer sacred. High rates of divorces are common among African Americans. In fact, over the past couple of years the rate of divorce in the African American community has increased drastically in comparison to that of the early 19th century. The decline in successful marriages plays a major role in the decrease of extended families. “Multi-generational bonds represent a valuable resource for families in the 21st century and are becoming more important than nuclear family ties for well-being and support over the course of our lives”.
The pervious quote was taken from an article entitled Importance of Family written in 2005 by Dr. Bengtson. Dr. Vern Bengtson is currently a professor of gerontology and sociology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles explaining the importance of extended families. Research conducted by Joan Aldous proved that there is more of a need for extended families rather than nuclear families. Extended families provide a better source of shelter as well as providing economic, religious, legal and recreational needs for African Americans. The lack of African American extended families has caused African American communities begin to lose their sense of togetherness, which is a necessity to building a strong community. The original purpose of the family in the African American culture is beginning to lose its original value.