May 2012 theme is Ensuring work life balance
UNs International Day of the Family
May 15 is celebrated as the International Day of the Family. This day highlights the importance of families. It aims at fostering equality, bringing about a fuller sharing of domestic responsibilities and employment opportunities. The programmes undertaken to commemorate the day, work towards supporting families in the discharge of their functions. They tend to promote the inherent strengths of families, including their great capacity of self-reliance, and stimulate self-sustaining activities.Family constitutes the basic unit of society. Hence, the widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to families so that they fully assume their responsibilities within the community to the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on Social Progress and Developments and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women.
What is a family?
According to Murdock, an anthropologist, a family is "a group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more of their children of their own or adopted by the sexually cohabiting adults."
The Family as a Functional Unit
The biological, emotional and economic needs are the foundation of a family. It grows out of biological needs, particularly those of the expectant mother and the infant child, who cannot support and live by themselves.
Every association of people; it be a state, a nation, or a tribe -- has its own distinctive culture, its modes of living and thought, which are developed as a response to the peculiar circumstances of the environment, natural and ideological. Family is the agency through which the impressionable rising generation is made familiar with such traditions. It teaches the individual what situations to anticipate, how to behave and what behaviour to expect, by giving one the gifts of language and dress which integrate within one's cultural ethos. It facilitates adjustment to people and groups outside the family circle.
Family plays an important role in transmission of the cultural traditions from one generation to another. It acts as an educative unit and a socio-cultural agency. The importance of this aspect lies in the fact that children all over the world get their earliest instruction in the family beginning with language.
Distinctive Features of the Family
Family has the following distinctive features:-
Universality. In view of the fact that all aspects of an individual's life, are considerably influenced and made possible by family grouping, it is found all over the world and at all levels of culture. Besides, there is no conclusive or convincing evidence that there ever was a time when this institution did not exist. Modern civilization has not so far succeeded in providing a complete and fully satisfying substitute to this grouping. Family is the most universal and the most important organization for socialization.
Emotional basis. The integrative bonds in a family are of mutual affection and blood ties. This emotional basis makes it ideally suited for the all-important role of early education, which makes it an institution of considerable importance as a transmitter of culture.
Educative role. The most plastic year of every individual's life, that is, childhood, is spent in the family. It is here that one gets the earliest and the most fundamental lessons in socialization. One is mentally formed according to the norms of society, which get ingrained in one to re-appear in adult life as conscience or super-ego. The cultural traditions that are imbibed by an individual are imbibed in the familial setting, making the formative influence of the family supreme.
Limited size. The family, throughout the world, is characterized by its precision as compared to other types of groupings like the sib or clan for instance.
Nuclear position. With regard to all the different types of groupings, family plays an important role in so far as it prepares the individual for participation in all these secondary groups, for their demands and situations. It serves as the nucleus for the growth of other types of groupings which never deal with the cultureless creature that a newly-born child is.
Sense of responsibility among members. Even though emotions and feelings are the main basis of family life, it is not completely devoid of reason. A sense of responsibility among its members in relation to one another is an aspect, which is more rational and reasoned than emotional and instinctive. This feeling of personal responsibility towards one another is very important to ensure the smooth working of the familial grouping, and consequently of society as a whole; and, therefore, we find society stepping in to ensure it through customs and mores.
Social regulations. Society has to ensure, by evolving mores and folkways, that the individual members in a family do perform all those functions towards each other on the basis of which the wider network of social relationships is dependent for its success. For example, there are social restrictions on divorce varying in intensity, in almost every society.
Persistence and change. Whereas family as an institution is the most permanent and universal one in human societies, as an association it is subject to constant change in composition and structure, even within the same society.
Read more at http://social.un.org/index/Family/InternationalObservances/InternationalDayofFamilies/2012.aspx