The extended family are cousins, aunts and uncles and basically all other members and are generally considered external to the close family unit of a child. Clearly this does not apply to all situations are cultures but acts as a general rule.
So Why is Family So Important?
For many, the main reason is blood ties. People trust their origins and will look after ‘one of their own’. There is a traditional blueprint passed through generations that family ties are unbreakable.
Families maintain the growth of children, install the morals and beliefs passed to the parents from their parents and so the pattern continues. Children develop obvious family identities from Grandpa to Aunty they understand the structure from a young age and these people form the structure for their young lives.
It is not simply a human trait, from lions on the African planes to chimpanzees, our closest relatives; families are formed and often maintained through generations. These families have hierarchies and roles the same as humans.
Has the Importance become Diluted in the 21st Century?
The interpretation of a family has changed significantly in recent years. The influence in media, television and the growth of the internet has played a part in changing social trends. As the world has become smaller so people travel and setup new lives leaving traditional family ties behind.
The internet has created easy access to loved ones (based abroad) straightforward, perhaps forming a ‘Cyber family’ environment.
Television and celebrity image also impact of traditional family life. The growth of the ‘Ghetto’ lifestyle promoted by US rappers transforms the concept of a tight blood related group. Gangs and friends become the families for many and youths set out to copy this lifestyle.
A final sentiment; a grandfather passes his young relative a picture of his who will pass the same to his children and so forth. Possibly summing up the essence of modern family and why heritage should never be forgotten. Generation after generation a family remains intact and builds a legacy – something everyone should be part of. Families are unique and although not always perfect provide vital close interaction for humans.
The definition of a family will continue to evolve as people do. It will always play an essential part in many people’s lives and define our children’s upbringing. Not all families have to be blood tied, but love and closeness is at the bottom of all good family groups.