Family Types and How Family Socializes Their Children


Oyeneye and Shoremi (1985: 167) defined socialization as a process of communicating the culture of a society to a child/adult. There is therefore childhood socialization and adult socialization.

Indeed, socialization is a life-long process. Hobbs and Blank (1975: 75) defined socialization as the process of social interactions in which individuals acquire the characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that are essential for effective participation within society.

In the area of family, Horton and Hurt (1980: 92) referred to socialization as the process whereby one internalizes the norms of the groups among whom one lives so that a distinct ‘self’ emerges which is unique to this individual.

1. Family Types

Family can be referred to as the origin of any society. It is the biological origin of every human being. Everyone is born into a family. It is through the family that we are born into we are introduced into society.

Families are labeled according to their formation, the number of people in them, and the level of rapport existing among members.

Natal family

The family in which a person is born is referred to as the natal family. He/she is seen as a child in this family. Age is irrelevant in this type of family in the sense that an adult no matter how old is referred to in this family as a child. Whenever he/she goes to the natal family house he/she is seen as their child of years ago.

Conjugal family

In every society after a certain period, a man is expected to settle down and get married. When a man gets married, it means that he has started his own family.

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This family is his own conjugal family. It is a family in which he is the breadwinner and no anymore a child as in the natal family.

Nuclear or monogamous family

This type of family consists only of the father, mother, and children. Relations are not allowed to live with this type of family. As soon as their children grow up, they are supposed to get out of the house and settle on their own.

This type of family is common in Western countries of Europe and America. It is however now gaining ground in African societies. It is common among the sophisticated educated elite.

Stem family

In western countries such as Canada, America, the United Kingdom, etc., they believe that the world is over-populated. They also believe that to avoid over-population, couples ought to limit the number of children born in a family.

This starts the idea of the stem family, which consists of only the father, mother, and child. The total number in the family is three. The Africans refused to buy this idea because the mortality rate is high in Africa.

Matrilocal family

Sometimes an accident can occur and the father may die. The family may have children. After the death of the husband, the wife may refuse to re-marry and decide to stay and take care of the children by herself.

Where a family is referred to as matrilocal, it may also be sometimes that the father is away not necessary because of death but for one reason or the other walks out of the life of the woman thus putting the woman in charge of the children.

Patrilocal family

This is the opposite of the matrilocal family. The mother is either dead or has divorced the man. Where the father refused to remarry and decides to raise the children all by himself such as the family is referred to as a patrilocal family.

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The two families: matrilocal and patrilocal have some demerits. Researchers have claimed that boys in the matrilocal family see issues and think mostly like women while girls in patrilocal families have a predominantly masculine outlook on life.

Polygamous family

This family has a man and many wives and their children living together under the same roof. This type of family is famous among Muslims. The Muslim tenet encourages this type of family. Some rich Christians do practice this type of family. This type of family is most common in African countries.

Extended family

This type of family consists of a father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, nephews, grandpas, grandmas, etc. It is the opposite of the nuclear family, which is only a father, mother, and children.

2. How family socializes its children

The family is very important because it is the first set within which a child is socialized. The family uses many methods to socialize its members. These include:

Through role allocation

In Nigeria, children are allocated roles according to their status, age, or sex. For example, girls are assigned to help their mother in taking care of the younger ones and in taking care of the kitchen. This is to prepare them for motherhood.

The boys are given more rigorous things to do and as future breadwinners, they too help their father on the farm and in any other manual labor.

Through observation

Through observation, the father, mother, sisters, brothers, and elders in the extended family, children learn consciously and unconsciously, the norms, values, and culture of the society.

Through observation, children do internalize the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of the family and the larger society.

Through direct teaching

Children, through direct teaching, acquire the skills relating to the family profession. For example, traditional skills such as carpentry, goldsmithing, and hunting can be passed from one father to son through direct teaching.

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Through reward and punishment

Children are socialized by the family and school through the use of rewards and punishment. Good or well-behaved children are rewarded for good behavior while disobedient children are punished for bad behavior to serve as a deterrent.

Through folklores

Through storytelling, the family does encourage good behavior and also discourages bad behavior.

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