The Importance of Family Support in a Child’s Life
Family is the single most important influence in a child’s life. From their first moments of life, children depend on parents and family to protect them and provide for their needs. Children thrive when parents are able to actively promote their positive growth and development.
Seven ways that in which the family shapes your child’s life:
1. Early development
Family is the most important influence on the emotional and physical development of a child. Parents play a huge role in how their children see the world, themselves and others. Similarly children influence their parent’s view of themselves, the world and others. The family unit is where children have their first experiences of relationships and learning. It is therefore the role of parents to be the leaders of their families, ensuring the provision of all their children’s basic needs (food, clothes, shelter), unconditional love and protection and provide a stable emotional base.
2. Teaching values
The family unit provides a foundation for setting values and morals, parents are to see themselves as much more than guardians but also as teachers and role models. The family influences and shapes its members sense of what is right and wrong. Strong family bonds can encourage children to be the best versions of themselves.
3. Modeling behavior
Family provides a framework for modeling behavior which their children emulate. If a child sees his or her parents dealing with conflict by shouting and slamming doors or fighting, they will think that this is the way to deal with a problem when it arises. On the other hand, if a child experiences parents talking, reasoning and maintaining respect, then this also will influence how the child will deal with conflict in later life.
4. Encouraging accountability
As a member of a family unit, there is a level of accountability shared by each person. Family members learn that their decisions and actions affect others. It is imperative that children learn about the consequences of their actions and the impact that they have on the rest of the family through family discussion.
5. Building relationships
When family members are supportive, encouraging and nurturing, the positive relationships that develop holds children in good stead for developing positive relationships with people outside of the family and into adulthood. Within the family, children learn how to interact with people, what is socially acceptable and how to manage others’ feelings. They learn to negotiate with siblings, share, take turns and share their parents’ attention.
6. Improved wellbeing
Constructive familial relationships have a positive influence on family members’ health, wellbeing and relationships with others, including classmates and teachers. Research has shown that a loving supportive family can reduce the effects of stress and increase emotional stability, allowing us to better cope with life’s ups and downs. With strong family bonds, children have been found to be more resilient.
7. Family dynamics change over time
As children grow into adolescents it can be a challenging and demanding time of transition. As young adults seek to become increasingly independent, parents may feel that their role is less important and that family unity is being eroded. Parents are to be extremely mindful and sensitive in navigating through adolescent phase, the relationship at this time should be adaptive to change. The role changes here from being one of authority – telling children what they must do, to one of collaboration, where you make decisions together with your children, reserving judgment and instead offering support.
At this often difficult time, it is important that the family sets boundaries. As adolescents begin pushing the limits, taking risks and exerting their independence, parents may feel that they are being pushed away. In fact, your growing child needs you and the rest of the family more than ever, and rebellion may just be a cry out for explicit rules! While the nature of your relationship will change, your teenager will benefit from the continuity of support a family can provide through connections and a secure emotional base. They will appreciate having a family to turn to for unconditional love, reassurance and support.
Family dynamics significantly impact health in both positive and negative ways. Having a close-knit and supportive family provides emotional support, economic well-being, and increases overall health. I would encourage everyone to work on building and strengthening the bonds of your family unit; remember we all need that love, care and support to navigate through life.