The Bigger Picture : The Family and Institutions in Our Link to Society

Part 5 of a 5-Part Series on Family Wellness

In the final article of a five-part series on family wellness, Tasneem Kagalwalla talks about productively linking our private and global worlds for greater well-being.

Put together all the existing families across the globe and you have society. It is as simple as that.

Individual family upbringing is reflected in the society that is created. Every family teaches something about how to deal with the outside world, how to get along, what to do about injustice, and how to relate it all to your life. Some teach conformity, some rebellion, some reinforce group responsibility and yet others teach by building a protective shell around their young ones.

Which we think is right or wrong is not the point of discussion here. The point is that many decades ago, the family was the primary source of education – on what is needed to grow up to be an evolved adult. However today the importance of institutions such as schools, colleges, work places, and governments have become integral parts of this process. Whether we like it or not they have grown in importance to become our extended family. Add to it the indisputable influence of television, movies, internet, and the social media.

What you are dealing with is a whole new world outside of the one you are living in. By the sheer wealth of our technology advancement, family life often takes a back seat, getting only the leftover time, after work, school, college.

It is vital we marry the two. This last section on family wellness is aimed at creating awareness of productively linking the two.

An Example : Hailey

The two need not function independent of each other. For example, a bold and bubbly five-year-old recently is enrolled in kindergarten. However, contrary to her nature, she did not settle into her new routine. Her parents assumed it was the new environment. Yet months passed by and little Hailey just would not want to go to school. She would cry herself to sleep and cry herself out of sleep every morning. Helpless with her limited communication skills, she tirelessly begged all in her family to not send her to this school. On the other hand, her teacher at school noticed that Hailey was weak at many skills. She was slow at her work and needed additional individual attention.

Finally, perturbed and unable to figure out the reason for Hailey’s behaviour, her parents felt the need to meet with the teacher. The school however only allowed pre-arranged parent–teacher meetings. So a special request to meet with the class teacher was made. This took another couple of weeks to arrange. In the meanwhile Hailey continued to feel miserable.

Eventually it was discussed that Hailey needed extra attention at home in order for her to catch up on the curriculum and feel like she fit in with her fellow mates. And the teacher now aware of her emotional state agreed to adopt a softer approach henceforth.

As you can see, a simple feedback session made it possible for information to be shared by all involved. This kind of feedback paves the way for appropriate positive changes to be made. Unfortunately, due to a closed system of operation and absence of healthy co-existence this easy solution took close to six months to unfold.

There is a need for families to partner with institutions that their members are involved with. There is equally a need for all types of institutions to consider the family as part of their establishment.

Today, sit with your family for the sole purpose of finding out where everyone is in relation to the outside world – school, college, work, business, social groups, religious institutions, karate class, skating club, music lessons, boy scouts! Build their “pot”-encourage open communication. You have all the tools and resources right at your fingertips. Put these powerful forces to work in your family. After all, the family is an integral unit in society. And when each family starts functioning in this manner, making it a more nurturing one, it will have effect on society at large too.

It’s about time we lead ourselves into the beginning of a new kind of society!


Credits: Based on the research of famous American author and renowned family therapist, Virginia Satir.

Read Tasneem’s entire series on Family Wellness

Part 1 How Healthy is Your Family?
Part 2 Worth A Pot Full
Part 3 Mind Your Language
Part 4 Overruled! Setting Family Rules

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