The family is widely considered as the most important institution because it is the first institution where young children are acculturated and where they learn their values and get a sense of belonging. The family is important because it is the basic unit of social structure and an important agent of socialization.
During his 1985 state of the union address, the newly re-elected President Reagan proclaimed that as the family goes, so does our civilization. Experts have described families as the cells that make up the body of society. If these cells are undernourished or become cancerous, the entire body succumbs. Some people believe that the disintegration of a society can often be traced to the breakdown of the family. When members of a family lose their sense of direction and stability, their values may become distorted.
The family is very important in the social development of a child, and it contributes to the stability of the entire society. Children get informal education through their family. They learn more about their culture and the values of their society. Learning about their heritage gives children a sense of identity and belonging. This type of education ensures the values and culture of the society live on.
Family helps to shape a person's character by regulating their social behaviors. It is through family that children learn what is socially acceptable and what is not. The type of guidance the child receives from the family helps him impact the society he lives in. As an agent of socialization, families teach members about sharing, group life and close relationships. Family also introduces people to their first system of beliefs, values, norms and opinions.