Everyone is born into a family, but not everyone gets a healthy one. For those who aren’t privileged to have a good birth family, they often create a chosen family later on. Why is family important? What kind of impact does it have on a person in their childhood and as an adult? Does it matter to society as a whole? Here are ten reasons why family is important:
#1. Families set the stage for future relationships
The very first relationships a child has is with their parents and any siblings. Whether healthy or not, these relationships provide a model for what future relationships will look like. It’s often not a conscious decision, but for better or worse, people often choose partners and friends based on how similar they are to their family. Family dynamics repeat themselves and reinforce beliefs about relationships and self.
#2. During challenging times, people need a family they can rely on
When life gets hard, people need support. This can be emotional and/or financial support. Someone going through rough times will turn to their family if they trust them to provide encouragement and love. Feeling accepted and understood during a personal crisis is a basic need for people. Families – whether traditional or chosen – can provide that.
#3. Families can be an essential source of affection and encouragement
In good or bad times, families can provide the affection and encouragement a person needs to be content. It can be difficult to find friends or purpose in adulthood. If a person has a strong family, they’ll always be able to find the love and support they need. With their family behind them, a person will find the motivation and courage for success. On the other side, if a person isn’t getting love and support from a family structure, they’ll feel lonely, depressed, and even hopeless.
#4. Families foster a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself
Families are hubs of tradition. Many families carry on traditions through the years by sharing stories from the past. This creates connections with family members that aren’t around anymore. A person who grows up in this type of family feels like they belong to something bigger than themselves. They’ll pride in being a member of a community that’s gone through hardships and triumphs.
#5. People raised in close families develop healthier relationships throughout their lives
Research supports that people from close-knit families go on to enjoy close relationships later in life. Psychological Science published a long-running study in 2016 that looked at men’s relationships. Researchers learned that men who grew up in nurturing families developed stronger relationships than men who didn’t have accepting families. They managed their emotions well and maintained a closer connection with their partners.
#6. Family relationships are linked to a person’s mental health
There have been many studies on the importance of family time, specifically dinner time. While families can still be healthy even if they don’t eat dinner together every night, there is a correlation between this time together and a young person’s wellbeing. In Pediatrics, one study discovered that kids who ate with their families regularly were less likely to show depression symptoms. On the other side of the spectrum, research shows that negative family relationships can trigger or worsen mental health issues.
#7. Quality time with family is linked to better academic performance
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University conducted a series of studies on family dinner time. One study showed that kids who eat dinner with their family less than three times were twice as likely to get Cs or below in school. On the other hand, kids who had family dinners 5-7 times a week did much better. Of course, there are other factors at play, but families that value dinners together likely value other positive family interactions.
#8. Families teach important life lessons
Families are the first place where children learn how to manage their emotions, interact with others, and communicate. It’s also the first setting where kids learn about consequences, either positive or negative. Parents are responsible for guiding their children, providing life lessons that will be remembered for years to come. These lessons form a big part of a person’s worldview and how they believe the world works.
#9. Families teach values
Along with life lessons, people learn a value system within their family structure. They learn what their family defines as right or wrong, as well as what’s important to the community. These values become ingrained and form a foundational part of a person’s identity. Values affect how a person treats others, how they view themselves, and what they see as their purpose in life.
#10. Healthy families form the backbone of a healthy society
When families are strong, communities are strong. That naturally leads to a strong society. The definition of a “healthy” or “good” is often the subject of heated debate. Countless studies have explored the impacts of adoption, LGBTQ+ relationships, families with multiple ethnicities, and so on. Why? Society is deeply invested in the strength of families because there’s a domino effect. If families aren’t doing well, a nation will suffer. If families are happy and healthy, the nation benefits.