The institution of family is a basic unit in the society, typically consisting of one or two parents and their children. Family members can be related by ancestry, marriage or adoption. The two main types of family are nuclear – consisting of husband, wife and dependent children – and extended – consisting of other kin members like uncles and aunts. The family has different functions. Firstly, the family enables socialization. It gives children the social experience of learning the ways of their respective culture. But the family is not the only agent of socialization: the child equally learns a list of the DO’s and DON’Ts at school. The family also has reproductive and sexual functions – along with regulating the sexual behavior in relation to the satisfaction of sexual needs secures a legitimate basis for procreation.
However, premarital sex has become more commonly accepted in some societies during the last few decades. Moreover, the family is an economic unit where the adult members make informed and rational decisions that maximize the well-being of the family. In our modern society, we also have other institutions – banks, insurance companies – to assist the family in that function. The family gives identity and social status to an individual. A person acquires a sense of identity directly from the family – for instance ethnic, linguistic, religion. It is important here to note that a person’s status can change through education or if he changes his religion. Last but not least, the family provides emotional security to its members. Emotional security helps an individual to gain self-confidence and to become internally strong.
Some sociologists argue that the family’s functional are decreasing and that it would cease to exist in the near future. Personally, I believe that some of the essential functions of the family, like emotional security and support, can hardly be provided by another institution in our society.