Functions of Family:
The family fulfills the vital functions that cannot be carried out as efficiently by other groups. The functions can be identified as:
(1) Satisfaction of Sexual Needs- The fundamental function of the family, according to Reed, is to regulate and gratify sexual needs. Manu accepts sexual satisfaction besides reproduction as the aim of the family. Vatsyayan also looks upon sexual satisfaction as the primary objective of the family. In the modern age, the fulfillment of sexual needs is one of the primary functions of the family. When sexual needs remain unsatisfied in the family it starts disintegrating. To quote Havelock Ellis, “With the failure of sexual harmony, the marriage structure rests on shifting sands.”
(2) Reproductive- The family guarantees the protection of a woman during her long pregnancy and lactation period. Due to childbearing tasks and the nursing ties of women with the children, the freedom of movement is restricted. Each sex depends on the other for certain tasks to be performed. All the members get benefits from each other for survival in a family.
(3) Socialization- The main function of the family is socialization. Family transmits the moral ideas of a group to its members. Socialization is nothing but acclimatization of the children to society. Through language and action, a child is able to learn about various customs and traditions of society. It is the family that socializes the new generation.
(4) Protection and care of the young– According to Groves the protection and care of children is one necessary function of the family. The human child is the most helpless and weak being. A family is needed in order to maintain its existence and to ensure its coordinated and balanced development. Its balanced development is achieved with difficulty without the care of the parents and other family members.
(5) Division of Labor- The division of labor on the basis of sex difference makes subsistence more efficient between a male and female in a family. The organization of a division of labor between spouses allocates complementary rights to the property acquired through joint efforts. The family acts as an agency for the holding and transmission of property.
(6) Educative Functions- Family is the first school for a child and every child learns in a family through imitation of his elders. The family is the center of vocational education because the children from early childhood were associated with the family occupation. Family provides general education and vocational education to its members.
(7) Cultural Functions- The family is responsible for preserving culture. Culture is transmitted from one generation to the other through the institution of the family. It is the responsibility of the family to see that its members are molded according to family culture and its cultural heritage is preserved. Culture constitutes the total integrated behavior pattern of society. Culture includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
(8) Basis of Kinship- Family is the basis of kinship. It epitomizes social relations and constitutes the minimal social unit. The social character of man develops in a family which is nuclear in position in relation to other social groups.
(9) Functions Regarding Health- The family performs the function relating to the health of the members of the family. A sick man is attended by his own kith and kin. The family takes care of the sick and ensures that they get proper medicine at the appropriate time from a competent medical practitioner.