On 15th May, International Day of Families is celebrated throughout the world to raise awareness through workshops, seminars, exhibitions and organized discussions about the importance and the role of family in society. The family is a universal social institution and a fundamental social unit or social group created by blood, marriage, or adoption. It is a fact that the existence of family in society is inevitable for survival, welfare and the development of individuals. Change in the family system is a constant phenomenon in all of the world’s societies. Pakistani society is no different.

Family is the backbone of society which plays a vital role in the personality formation of children , because children spend a large period of time with family members and have intimate relationships and regular interaction with them. The primary responsibility of family is to ensure the continuation of society both biologically, through procreation, and socially, through socialization.

Socialization is the process through which children acquire language, absorb the accumulated knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and values of their culture; and learn the social and interpersonal skills they need to function effectively in society. Through socialization, children learn to be responsible and peaceful individuals and adapt certain behaviour.

Family is also an important role-teaching agent because it delineates relationships among mothers, fathers, siblings, parents, children , other relatives and non-family members. Family provides children with affection, emotional support, companionship, status determination, social control mechanism, education, health facilities and social security. 

The following most common types of families exist today in our society:

Nuclear family

The nuclear family consists of two parents and children . In the US, this family structure is considered the ideal family to raise children . Almost 70 percent of children live in a nuclear family unit in the America. In Pakistan, too, the trend of nuclear family structure is increasing rapidly.

Extended or Joint family

This family type consists of two or more adult members; mostly extended family members such as cousins, aunts or uncles, grandparents and grandchildren live together in the same home. This type of family structure may form due to financial difficulties or because older relatives are unable to care for themselves, alone. Extended families are common in our society.

Step-Family

The step-family is created when individuals have married multiple times. This structure of family merges two separate families into one new unit. It is made up of a husband and wife and their children from previous​ ​marriages or relationships. Step​-​families tend to have more problems such as adjustment periods and discipline issues.

Grandparent Family

This type comprises grandparents who raise their grandchildren. This can happen for multiple reasons such as parents' death, addiction, abandonment or being unfit for the role.

Adoptive family

This is a family where one or more of the children has been adopted. Any of the above-mentioned structures can also simultaneously be an adoptive family .

Family disorganization is a breakdown of the family system. Family disorganization may include divorce, separation, and physical violence etc. The disorganization is caused by tensions and conflicts between the two spouses. The reason behind these tensions and conflicts are disagreements, incompatibility, failure to meet high expectations, and differences in viewpoints of partners and other family members.

Marital relationships are the central bonds for the family to survive in any society, thus when this bond breaks, the family is automatically broken. Family disorganization affects more on the behaviour of children because it contributes to the loss of social control that families usually exert on their members, especially on children . As a result, children adopt deviant behaviour.

Like western societies, Pakistani society, particularly its urban sector, is changing swiftly. New norms and values are emerging. The joint family system is disappearing from society. Nuclearization is the process of the society’s shift from the joint family system to the nuclear family system. Numerous factors lie behind this movement such as industrialization, urbanization, rapid means of communication and transport, decline of agricultural and village trades, individual freedom, better socialization of children , privacy and influence of western civilization. But both industrialization and urbanization have given a great setback to the joint family structure because new industries, which are mostly established in urban areas, attract many people for employment. Once employed, the person, especially youth, leaves the joint family system in villages and towns and sets up his nuclear family in the industrial city.

In my opinion, even today, as in the past, the joint family system is the best especially for children because it plays a pivotal role in the personality formation of children . It exerts the effective mechanism of social control and provides children with a variety of cherishable relationships. It helps us to learn interpersonal skills, and the art of living in a society.  By living together the kids feel closer to their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins; they understand them more and establish a trusting relationship, which is not possible when they live apart and meet only occasionally. The joint family system contributes to our security, health and prosperity, and can help us to live a happy life. This is because in the joint family we have a lot of people around to help us and to share our sorrows and joys, whom we can lean upon in times of trouble.