Family System and development


FamilySystem and development

Childdevelopment can be understood as the cognitive, emotional, social andphysical growth from birth to adulthood, a process that is shaped byenvironmental and biological factors (Peterson, 2003). A healthyfamily is “neither necessarily average, nor merely lacking innegative attributes, rather it has described positive characteristic”(Peterson, 2003). The family has the most profound effects on childdevelopment.

FamilySystems and Healthy Development

Familysystems can have a positive or negative effect on the development ofa child. Even though there are many environmental elements thatshape and influence the development of a child, family system is byfar the most influential, and most important (Peterson, 2003). Withinthe context of a family, a child is able to learn how to react andinteract within the social context (Feldman, 2014). It is in thefamily context that a child is also able to understand how otherpeople think and reason about behavior, and learn to handle parentingstyles within the family. Unfortunately, some children go throughabuse, neglect and violence and are forced by prevailing circumstanceto learn what it means to be pliant and surmount various challengesin life (Roehlkepartain et al. 2006).

WhatIs a Healthy Family System?

Ahealthy family system is crafted around a string of features thathelp it to become a more cohesive unit. It is important to note thatthese traits are not meant to eliminate the individuality of thepersons in the family, rather it creates room for every member in thefamily to have greater safety to be an individual and work togetherto attain goals (Peterson, 2003). These traits include, respect foreach other, listening and communication skills, family rituals, senseof play, family affirmation, work ethics, and shared spiritualoutlook. Good listening and communication skills are very essentialto a hood relationship in a family. In a family setting it isparamount that each family member is able to communicate with othermembers in an easily understood way (Peterson, 2003). Parents shouldbe able to communicate to their children and ensure that they hearthe concerns of their children. Children learn to interact withpeople in and outside their family better if parents provide asupportive and conducive environment, warm and strong relationshipare encouraged.

Featuresthat Distinguish Healthy Family System from Unhealthy Family System

Unhealthyfamilies do poorly in most of the positive features mentioned abovethat are meant to foster positive behavior. In an unhealthy there ispoor communication and lack of family support that leads to feelingsof inadequacy, particularly in children (Roehlkepartain et al. 2006).There is lack of respect, trust and work ethic. Lack of respectmeans the privacy of everyone is at risk, and lack of work and playethics means conflict are inevitable. A child is brought up in anisolated family where there is no support system to help them feelsecure and loved (Roehlkepartain et al. 2006). Children in unhealthyfamily systems grow up feeling insecure face different forms ofmental instability and become less trusting of their environment.Unhealthy family systems are discerned by uninvolved parents, whoshow no interest in the child’s activities. Such parents aredelinked socially, emotionally and spiritually (Roehlkepartain et al.2006). In a healthy family system a child is taught vital skills tohelp cope in all facets of life.


Itis evident that being a healthy or unhealthy family is determined bythe values and codes and traits that a family pursues. Poorcommunication skills, lack of family rituals, lack of sense of play,the absence of family affirmation, lack of work ethics, and sharedspiritual outlook are all features of an unhealthy family. Eventhough there are many environmental elements that shape and influencethe development of a child, family system is by far the mostinfluential, and most important. Within the context of a family, achild can learn how to react and interact within the social context.When there is no trust, respect, care, family values and principles,the development of a child in adversely affected.


Feldman,R. S. (2014). Development across thelife span (7th ed.) Upper Saddle River,NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Peterson,G. (2003).Characteristics of HealthyFamily Systems. Retrieved from:

Roehlkepartain,E.C.,King,P.E., Wagner, L., &amp Benson, P.L. (Eds.). (2006). Thehandbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications