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Uploaded by palma on Oct 09, 2000

Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites


The family is the mainspring of support of every kind. It mobilizes psychological resources and alleviates emotional burdens. It allows for the sharing of tasks, provides material goods together with cognitive training. It is the prime socialization agent and encourages the absorption of information, most of it useful and adaptive.

This division of labour between parents and children is vital both to development and to proper adaptation. The child must feel, in a functional family, that he can share his experiences without being defensive and that the feedback that he is likely to receive will be open and unbiased. The only "bias" acceptable (because it is consistent with constant outside feedback) is the set of beliefs, values and goals that is internalized via imitation and unconscious identification. So, the family is the first and the most important source of identity and of emotional support. It is a greenhouse wherein a child feels loved, accepted and secure - the prerequisites for the development of personal resources. On the material level, the family should provide the basic necessities (and, preferably, beyond), physical care and protection and refuge and shelter during crises.

Elsewhere, we have discussed the role of the mother (The Primary Object). The father's part is mostly neglected, even in professional literature. However, recent research demonstrates his importance to the orderly and healthy development of the child.

He participates in the day to day care, is an intellectual catalyst, who encourages the child to develop his interests and to satisfy his curiosity through the manipulation of various instruments and games. He is a source of authority and discipline, a boundary setter, enforcing and encouraging positive behaviours and eliminating negative ones. He also provides emotional support and economic security, thus stabilizing the family unit. Finally, he is the prime source of masculine orientation and identification to the male child - and gives warmth and love as a male to his daughter, without exceeding the socially permissible limits.

These traditional roles of the family are being eroded from both the inside and the outside. The proper functioning of the classical family was determined, to a large extent, by the geographical proximity of its members. They all huddled together in the "family unit" – an identifiable volume of physical space, distinct and different to other units. The daily friction and interaction between the members...

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Uploaded by:   palma

Date:   10/09/2000

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   6 pages (1,413 words)

Views:   1850

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