The Changing Functions of Family:
Change is the law of nature. Family is not an exception to this universal law. So, family as a unit, changes with the changing society. The structure and functions of a family change with time and situation. Due to different internal and external forces acting upon the family, radical changes have occurred in the functions of the family. The changes have occurred in both the essential and non-essential functions of the family, the changing functions of the family are described below;
Changing in the functions of sexual regulation: Some relaxation is marked in this function of the family. Unlike the strict regulation of sex in the past pre-marital and extra marital relations are increasing in contemporary society. The number of prostitution centers, dance bars, etc. is also increasing. The modern family fails to exercise its traditional control in regulating the sexual behavior of its members.
Changes in the reproductive function: With the progress of science and technology, particularly with the development of genetic engineering, test-tube babies are born which greatly affects the reproductive function of the family. Due to lack of spare time and economic reasons, less number of children is referred.
Changes in the child-rearing function: Unlike the family members who do the rearing of children, these functions of the family have been shifted to certain external agencies such as hospitals, maternity homes, daycare centers, etc. As a result, children are devoid of family affection and ties.
Changes in protective functions: In ancient time’s families used to protect their members against all odds. It is the primary duty of the family to provide security and protection to the old, aged, diseased, handicapped, etc. But nowadays, these important function of family has been taken over by other specialized institutions such as hospital, clinics, old age home, etc.
Changes in the Socialization function: In the past, the family used to play a significant role in the process of socialization of the child. The child attains a full-fledged personality through socialization. But in modern times, the family plays a very little role in socializing its children. Some of the socialization functions of the family now are being performed by many other specialized agencies such as schools, universities, etc.
Changes in the educative function: Traditional family used to be the first school for children where he learned the basics of life such as social norms, values, and some occupational education from family. But in present days the role of the family in education has declined a lot as school, college, universities and technical institutions became a substitute to parents. Moreover, it is also not possible to acquire modern education from family.
Changing in the economic functions: In ancient times, the family was the main center of production, consumption, and distribution. It used to produce almost everything needed for its members. But at present family remain only a consumption unit than a center of production. Most of its production function is being performed by the factory or industrial units. Family members now prefer to work in offices, industries than to work in agriculture.
Changes in health-related functions: In the past, the family used to play an important role in providing treatment to its diseased members and in taking care of the health of its members. But now this role of the family has been performed by health centers, clinics, etc.
Changes in religious functions of family: In traditional society, the family was the center of worship and religious activities. But in modern times, this religious function of family has also undergone a great change. The work pressure and secularism have loosened the inclination towards one’s religion. Consequently, religious practices and festivals have lost their traditional importance.
Changing in the recreational functions of the family: In traditional society, the family used to be the center of all kinds of recreation. But in modern times, the recreational functions of the family have been shared by different external agencies such as hotels, parks, clubs, movies, etc. Instead of listening to stories from grandparents, now, children prefer to watch television and prefer to go picnic and outings.
Changes in the social functions: Traditional family acted as an important agency of social control. It exercised direct control over its members and as a result, they became a good human being. But in modern times, this function of family has sharply declined. It fails to exercise the same authoritative control over its members. Because of this family became disorganized.
Although changes have occurred in all the functions of the family it is not completely devoid of these functions. Family, even today continue to perform these functions but with some modifications.