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The Family is considered the most important agent of socialization because it is the family that provides crucial childhood development. The family is the first line of defense to keep young children becoming feral children, which can have disastrous consequences on a child’s life. The family creates the self-identity for young children, and begins the socialization process.
When a baby is born, its personality is in what Sigmund Freud called the “id” stage, in which the baby is in constant demand for immediate gratification. The baby is in need of responsible and loving family members to help the child develop what Sigmund Freud called the “ego” which is the reality oriented stage, and what Sigmund Freud called the “superego” which brings in the moral and ethical aspects of personality.
Another reason the family is considered the most important agent of socialization is because it is the family that will help a child through what Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, calls the four stages of cognitive development. The first stage, called the sensorimotor stage which occurs from age birth to two years old, the child is not able in speak or have symbolic thought. The second stage, called the preoperational stage which occurs from age two to seven, where children are just beginning to form mental images and symbols. The third stage, called the concrete operational stage which occurs from age seven to eleven, children are able to draw their own conclusions regarding likely physical consequences on actions and relate to the viewpoints of others. The fourth stage, called the formal operational stage which occurs at age twelve to adulthood, youth are able to absorb abstract thought and understand things like places and events they have not seen. In this stage youth are also able to understand the concept of past, present, and future and relate one to another. No one is more influential in developing a child though these stages than the family. The family provides children with a sense of what is normal in society. The family gives young children rules of behavior as well as beliefs and values.
In the last few generations, the American family has had dramatic changes, including a huge increase in the number of single people, due to a climbing rate of divorce and very high increase in single women giving birth. Many people wait longer until they marry as well. These changes have been linked to changes in child care, the developing role of women in society, and the sexual revolution of the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Though the “mom and dad” family with one or more children remains the norm, this tradition is wearing down.
Social class in America can create differences in the way people live there family life and how they conduct their marriages. People of the upper class, that is, the wealthy class, will spend millions of dollars for a fancy wedding and honeymoon get aways. The low income working class will spend a few hundred dollars on a backyard wedding on a Saturday, and return to work the following Monday. Likewise on holidays, the wealth class will fly all over the country visiting family with nice big homes with guest houses or guest rooms. But the low income working class might just stay at home on a holiday or some will even have to work on the holiday.
Difference in race in America may have different styles of marriage and family life because of cultural background. Men and women of different race may have different styles of food tastes and diets. Difference in race may equate to different religions and different styles of wedding ceremonies.
Difference in gender will most certainly create differences in marriage and family life. For example, if you are a female, you will have to decide if you are going to let yourself get pregnant, and if you are only going to allow yourself to get pregnant when you are married. Becoming pregnant will have a huge impact on your social life, such as limiting how often you can go out with your circle of girlfriends. After giving birth to the child, you will have literally no free time for years to come as you spend most all your time caring for your child, unless you are wealthy and can afford to hire personal child care givers to help, or if you just happen to be lucky enough to have enough friends and family with so much spare time that they can always be available for babysitting. Typically for males, having children is going to be a big change, but not nearly as much as it is for females.
People have many choices in America, which is known to be the land of the free and the land of opportunity. People have the personal chose to stay single or to get married. Many choose to remain single because of the freedom it brings, being able to do whatever they like without having to worry about the wellbeing of a spouse. Others however prefer the companion ship of a spouse. Now days, people are even using their personal choice to enter into legal gay marriages. Some people even use their personal choice rights to marry and get divorced, then married again, and sometimes the first marriage will be heterosexual and the second homosexual.
I personally believe the trend toward diverse families is negative. I believe society is better off when children do not have half-siblings and step-parents. I personally have had both. In regards to homosexuality, males and females have different physical body parts that are opposite nature, and it does not take a genius to figure out how to use them in their natural form. It’s just like a wall outlet and something that plugs into it. By nature one has to be a female part and another has to be a male part, or it just does not work. (Just as a side note, in engineering, basic components such as a jack and a plug are known as female parts and male parts) I believe the same is true for human biology, and anything to the contrary is a psychological dysfunction.
If the trend changed toward traditional pre-World War II families, this would affect woman’s rights by taking way their right to vote, their right to work a job, and their right to own property.
In conclusion, the family provides children with a sense of what is normal in society. The family gives young children rules of behavior as well as beliefs and values. American families have had dramatic changes over the last decades, including a sharp increase in the number of single people. Many American families have a different style of family life due to different class, race, gender, and personal choice. This gives youth many different social groups to learn about and what America the most diverse nation in the world.
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