Role of Family in Moral Development

Bappy Rahman

29th October, 2019 08:53:10 printer

Role of Family in Moral Development

Morality denotes learning the difference between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour toward others. Usually, the word morality carries three concepts - moral standards, moral responsibility, and moral identity. Common synonyms of morality comprise ethics, principles, virtue, and goodness. Morality often is associated with concepts such as values, conscience, and legality. But morality has become a complicated issue in the multi-cultural world we live in today. Morality is essential for personal wellbeing and our relationships with our fellow humans. Following the prevailing moral codes helps make us people of integrity. Moral codes provide a social organization within a culture or civilization. These codes form the basis of many of our laws. Morality is essential because it helps you not only to be law-abiding but also to treat others in society with dignity and respect.

However, it must be noted here that parents and other close family members are essential in moral development as they are the primary social contacts during a person’s childhood and adolescence. No doubt that family is the base from where values are built. From family education, moral values like truthfulness, happiness, peace, justice are instilled in children’s thoughts. Accordingly, a person sets his ideals and governs his life. The value system practised in the family develops automatically to the young family members if they are educated moral values properly. The family develops the attitude of a child towards people and society. The family also helps in mental growth in the child and supports his ambitions and values. It is quite reasonable that the pleasant and cheerful atmosphere in the family develops love, friendliness, broad-mindedness, and kindness.

Generally, a child learns his behaviour from what he sees around him. In this regard, the family plays a significant role by helping in the socialization process of a child, which has a considerable influence and bearing on the progress of the child. It is realized nowadays that the presence of elders in the family plays a useful role in the social and moral development of the children. It also helps the young generation of the family to imbibe human values and eradicate their negative mental tendencies.

No outside influence is more significant than that of the family in the formation of children’s morals. Families instil morals in children through punishment, reinforcement, and both direct and indirect teaching, which help them to develop beliefs. There are specific means through which morals are most effectively conveyed and learned though the contribution of families’ to children’s moral development is broad. These are fairness, justice, social roles, personal balance, etc.    

Fairness is one of the vital moral lessons that children learn from the family. For example, families fixed boundaries on the distribution of resources, such as food and living spaces, and allow members different benefits dependent on age, gender, and employment. The manner by which a family figure out what is reasonable, influences children’s improvement of thoughts regarding rights and entitlements, and impacts their ideas of sharing, correspondence, and respect.

Through positive reinforcement and punishment, families establish rules for right and wrong behaviour. Positive reinforcement is the incentive for good practice. This good practice allows children to learn that specific activities are encouraged. On the other hand, punishment helps to deter children from engaging in harmful behaviours. The process of discipline from an early age allows children to realize that dangerous activities have consequences. Besides, punishment practice helps children to make decisions about how to act because they start to consider the results of their actions.

Children come to consider their activities not only in terms of justice in the family environment but also as to the needs of emotion. Children acquire the value of social support from their families. They also develop their motivations based on compassion, kindness, and sympathy, rather than on only personal desires. Children develop their concern for society as a whole by learning to care for the interests and well-being of their families.

Children learn to find a sense of balance between their own needs and the interests of the more exceptional social environment through understanding principles of fairness, justice, and social responsibilities. A Child benefited from a greater sense of love, security, higher and shared identity by placing limits on their desires. This connectedness encourages children to refine their ethical framework by furnishing them with a reference for seeing good and evil.

The effective components of family-child interactions provide parental warmth, involvement, and support which enable children to develop moral reasoning. Therefore, parents should be careful in their relationships with others. Furthermore, there is also a cognitive dimension of parents’ roles. The moral development of children is dependent on the part of parents during the construction of it. Henceforth, parents should be careful in selection of their children’s peers, have awareness about children’s possible social experiences and give importance to affective and cognitive components of parent-child interactions.

(The writer acknowledges with gratitude the different sources of information.) 

The writer is a Chinese Government Ph.D. Fellow and Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, Jagannath University, Dhaka