Socialization of a child in an extended family-Its pros and cons.

(Umme Aimen, Lahore)

An Extended Family.

Across the world, the most significant social institution is the family. Despite cultural differences, the concept of family is what brings the world together. An infant imitates and learns cultural norms, as well as socializes himself through his kin. The number of kin that make up a family varies. It depends upon the culture. Usually, in Western societies, there are nuclear families present, whereas, in Eastern societies, there is more trend of extended families. However, this is not a fixed ratio; in most cases, both types of families collaborate to improve society. Perhaps the way of upbringing of their children can be different. Family is the first principal socializing agency of humanity. Moreover, the family is the first to lay the foundation of self in the child. It makes him feel his existence as 'I’. It is observed that children born in an extended family are more socialized than those born in a nuclear family.

1- Extended Families; Upbringing is accomplished by more people:
 According to Merriam Webster dictionary:
'A family that includes in one household near relatives in addition to a nuclear family’.
It is also called a multigenerational house hold when it generates nieces, nephews; that is, they may include members of three or more generations in such families other than parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents are also living. In a more extreme form, many nuclear families make one extended family. Keeping the above-mentioned fact in view, it becomes understandable why when a child is born into an extended family, he already has to see a lot and learn.
The first institution of any child is his parents. When he comes to this world, he learns to speak, walk and eat by watching his parents. Then, growing up to a certain level, he learns what is right and what is wrong. What are the actions which are acceptable to society? Which culture does he have to live in? Until puberty, he is heavily influenced by his parents. But in extended families, the children are brought up not only by their biological parents but also by other family members.

2-The role of extended families in making people have good relations with society:
A person who spends his life within an extended family better see his position in society. The reasons are the following:
•    Security: Persons who live in an extended family are more fear-free and willing to hold a prominent position in society. They are supported by their relatives and feel more secure.
•    Unity: A child when he sees so many people living together in the same house and sharing a bond of love, he wants to do the same thing outside. He develops tolerance and patience in dealing with people, which makes him a good being in society.
•    Will to face different judgments: In an extended family, people have to face different perceptions of themselves through so many people, whereas in nuclear families, two to three people judge you. So, in extended families, people become strong and capable of facing different judgments that put them in a better position in society.
•    Confidence: Since childhood, he has lived with so many people and has spoken to so many people daily. In this case, naturally, he learnt confidence and now has the potential to speak in class, at university or in any other public place. On the other hand, in nuclear families, a child's confidence can not build so much.
•    Leading the group: Individuals in extended families are able to lead society better because since childhood they have seen different opinions, dealt with so many people. They have the power of decision making and have firm belief in themselves.

3- Problematic relation:
Indeed, extended families play an important role in better socialization, although it has some drawbacks.
•    Laziness: Some members tend to show lazy attitudes towards life. They think that since uncles and aunties are there to give support, they can sit down and do no work. They eventually feel burdened and succumb to anxiety issues.
•    Stratification: In an extended family system, stratification is often seen. Some members are influenced by the generosity of a wealthy member, and as a result, they respect the wealthy member more than the poor member. Members of such families are paid respect according to the value of money they have.
•    Competition:  Individuals from such families have witnessed so much competition among cousins in studies, clothing, and food. When they step out into society, they subconsciously want to compete with their peers. 

4-Pakistani extended families:
In Pakistan, there is mostly a joint family system that varies from living with a few members to a large number. One benefit of this way of raising children is that the children are brought up to fit into the larger community or society. The tendency toward waywardness is reduced. In Pakistani society, one has to live a good life to influence his younger siblings and cousins and be morally good in front of his aunts, uncles and grandmother and grandfather.

5- Extended Family System in American Society:
After WWII, modernization spread all over America, economic prosperity, and public policies weakened the ties and economic roles of extended families and made nuclear families and independent households the preferred norm. In the 1940s, approximately 10 percent of families were doubled-up. By the 1970s, that percentage had dropped to 2.5 percent. In recent decades, however, the number of extended families has increased once more. (Housing the Extended Family by Michela Zonta 2016) 

Extended families are cooperative groups to care for one another. It plays a noteworthy role in the upbringing of children to fit them into society. It works as social insurance for its members. This form of family helps an individual to find his place in society better. In Pakistan, this is one of the reasons that our family system is strong and helps young people to escape social ills.

Umme Aimen
About the Author: Umme Aimen Read More Articles by Umme Aimen: 5 Articles with 3631 views I am a final-year LLB student at the University of the Punjab. I am interested in writing about current issues at the national and international level.. View More