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Role of the Family in Healthy Child Development

The family has been society's primary agency in providing for the child's biological needs such as food, clothing and shelter and simultaneously helping in the development of the child into a well adjusted, emotionally healthy person. The family must foster and direct the child's development by carrying out a number of functions:

  1. The care giving role which caters to the child's physical and emotional needs.

  2. Helping the child develop an adequate and healthy personality.

  3. As a model for learning basic social roles and mores of society.

  4. To transmit the cultural aspects of life.

These functions will now be described in detail

1. The care giving function: This includes the care given from a helpless neonate to an adolescent's more mature needs. It concerns fulfilling the child's basic physical needs and his emotional needs for love, affection and a sense of security. Proper nurture requires the parents to have the knowledge and capability of managing a child at different stages of his development. A nine month old child's needs are different from that of a 3 year old and a healthy family is able to change itself based on a child's needs.

Usually, it is the mother who is the primary care giver, particularly in a small child, however the relationship with the child is clearly related to the whole family situation and is influenced by it. A mother's capacity to nurture will be influenced by her marital interaction with her husband, relationship with her neighbours and relatives and demands made by other children. A father also profoundly influences his children's behaviour both directly and indirectly by his relationship with the mother. A woman's

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