The Importance of Family

November 28, 2023

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving – I hope you did too. Experiencing Thanksgiving myself and hearing about many others reminded me of the importance of family. There is something about gathering together, sitting around a table, conversing slowly and intentionally, laughing, and remembering together that can’t be overvalued. I was able to connect with others and even got to share my perspective on some things with others who were younger than me. We have lost this, and because of it our world and society have lost some critical things.

Our family is one of the most important things in our lives. Researchers have observed that in all the societies they have studied, family plays a crucial role in the success of individuals. A family’s influence on young children lasts throughout a lifetime in deep and central ways. Healthy families are the building blocks of a healthy society.

A Harvard University study conducted in 1938 tried to determine the secret of raising successful kids. Two hundred sixty-eight male Harvard students were tracked for seventy years in the Harvard Grant Study, the first of its kind. The study analyzed mental and physical health as well as their successes and failures. One conclusion was unmistakable: Family is important because a successful and happy life depends on having a loving family and healthy relationships.

Children’s first relationships are with their parents. The bond they form with their parents shapes the way they view themselves and others. When they have strong relationships, the children are more likely to develop a sense of security. The quality of these relationships determines much of the capacity to form and maintain close relationships in adulthood.

A child’s early experiences establish either a sturdy or fragile foundation for behavior, learning, and health. Parents are their first teachers and role models, and their brains and abilities develop over time. Stable, nurturing, and responsive parents, as well as a positive family experience, contribute to healthy brain development. A healthy family leads to better emotional regulation, cooperation, academic performance, social competence, and resilience.

Not only that but having a strong family with positive relationships directly correlates to lower levels of adolescent depression and delinquency and anti-social behavior. Good family traditions foster a sense of identity and promote self-esteem. Positive family ties lead to a lower level of conduct disorders and promote family strength, which helps them endure difficult times and disruptions.

As you might suppose, the studies not only found positive effects, but negative family relationships in troubled families during adolescence have a negative impact on adolescents’ impulse control and on their mental and emotional health as adults.

Another study from Indiana State University examined life satisfaction levels at various stages of adulthood from early adulthood (ages 22-34) to late adulthood (ages 65 and older). They found that a strong family life was one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction at each stage. Psychological well-being and life satisfaction are closely related. Having quality time with family and participating in family activities together can have a positive impact on one’s mental well-being. Families provide not just basic needs for children but also emotional needs that go all the way into adulthood.

A loved one can be a major source of strength during hard times. Showing unconditional love is one of the best ways to create a support system for everyone. It is their safe haven so children know they can always come home.

Studies consistently find that eating meals together as a family tie to more positive and fewer negative outcomes in children. Frequent family meals are associated with better communication, nutritional intake, school performance, and mental health, especially in adolescents. In addition, these practices help prevent high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, violence, sexual activity, and school dropouts.

Everything I just shared with you is from a variety of official research sources. But doesn’t it make sense? God created the family as a gift to His own loved children, and when Jesus was born, He validated the family by coming to live and grow in one.

Just from our own experiences and observations we know that family has the most important influence on a child’s life from the first encounter with the world. From the very beginning our family influences our worldview and plays a big role in our development into early adulthood. A family is supposed to provide a safe, stable, and loving environment which will enable each member to fulfill their potential.

The family unit is universally recognized as the most important social institution. Love is received in the family through positive family interactions. This is an important prerequisite for healthier relationships later in life. The family is a protective source and provides role models for life through parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. School is important, but family actually provides the first level of education and socialization, and the participation of the family is significant in school success. Family instills values that are passed on through the generations. And all the families together define our communities and society.

A good family provides …

  • A sense of belonging. A family gives a place of comfort, identity, and security.
  • Family support. A family encourages each member to realize their dreams. It is also a place where a person finds support after a failure or celebrates their successes. Belonging and support enables self-confidence.
  • A sense of purpose. Purpose is vital for a person to be proactive and to accept the diversity of life. Purpose will provide more strength and joy while completing various everyday activities. Family is the place where people learn the first and some of the most valuable life lessons, which in turn help a person define their place and role in the world.
  • Faith. Good families can exist without faith in God, but great families help their children to know the Father who always loves. Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. This undergirds everything else, and the great news is that people who did not get any or enough of all these things in their growing up home can find them in the family of God, the church, and pass them on to their children.

Thank God for our families and the opportunity to make a difference in the world by the way we handle this great privilege and responsibility.