The family plays a very significant part in the individual’s socialization because the child spends his early formative years in the home. He learns much by observing the people around him, by imitating them, by indulging in activities which win their approval and avoiding those which bring their disapproval and immediate punishment.
It is the family environment which can create good habits in him, because the child’s moral code is conditioned by the system of reward and punishment which prevails in the family.
And, it is also in the family that criminal tendencies are first generated. In their book New Light on Delinquency and its Treatment, Healey and Bronner have pointed out that juvenile delinquents are frequently found in those families in which the fulfillment of social relationships has been hindered at one time or the other.
Freud and other psychoanalysts have demonstrated that the child remains throughout life whatever he is made out to be in the family. In his “Psychological Factors in Mariel Happiness “, Terman his theorized that only those individuals can enjoy marital bliss whose own parents had been happy and contended.
In the preface to ‘Women of the Street depth study of the prostitutes of London, it has been commented that the problem of prostitution is, in reality, a problem of the relationship between the children and parents.
The family plays a very significant, perhaps the most significant role in the individual’s development. Freud and other psychoanalysts believe that the impressions made upon the child’s mind at home determine the child’s personality as an adult, for in childhood, the child’s mind is very flexible and susceptible to any influence.
The parents’ love for the child makes a deep impression on him. And, although it is true that exclusive love and affection have detrimental effects, the complete absence of affection creates complexes in the child’s mind, which later misbalance his personality.
His personality is also influenced greatly by the behavior of his brothers and sisters towards him. Adler, the famous psychologist, has stressed the fact that the order of the birth of children in the family distinctly and separately influences the personality of each child. The eldest child’s mental makeup differs from that of the last.
Besides, all great thinkers and philosophers have admitted the importance of their mother’s love as far as their personality development is concerned.
In India, people often gauge the personality of a young marriageable girl by observing her mother. And, as far as marriages are concerned, more attention is paid to the prospective bridegroom’s parentage than to his own personality, for the family makes a lot of difference.
The family’s influence does not end with the individual’s entrance into adolescence, for even then the influence continues.
Complete absence of control often results in moral degeneration among the young people, while excessive control manifests itself in repressed personalities and narrow minds. Only reasonable restraint and freedom can help the individual to develop a balanced personality.
After marriage, the individual’s personality is also exposed to the influence of his partner’s personality, his or her health, mental attitudes, family background, physical beauty, attainments, etc.
The ability to beget children or not is another factor which plays a significant role in the individual’s personality development. In fact, considerable literature has been devoted to the subject of family’s influence upon the personality by sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists.