For centuries, individuals have turned to the bosom of the family for protection from harm, the nursing of ills, and emotional support. Today, families risk litigation if they protect themselves instead of call the police. They rely on the expanding healthcare system for most medical treatment. So where can a person turn, tough, for an emotional haven? In today’s increasingly impersonal society, the family remains the primary source of physical and emotional well-being.
In the past, families in modern society like United States seemed to provide stability and security. Actually, they also featured dictatorial fathers and husbands, tremendous pressure to marry, limited choices in a marital partner or in the framework of the relationship, and little opportunity to escape an unhappy or violent marriage. Now the American family appears to be sinking beneath waves of tumultuous change, breaking into fragments inadequate for meeting many people’s personal and social needs.
The life and society has changed in a manner, which has affected the family structure also. Nearly one third of all children in America live in a single parent household. Even in the family of two parents, parents do not have time for their children. The pace of society is so fast that they have to go to offices to live according to the standards of the society. The youth of today miss the real parental love. This has caused increased incidences of long term emotional and behavioral problems amongst the children of today. The ethical and moral disorder is responsible for increasing violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, homosexuality etc. in the teenagers of today.
Parental behavior may make an important contribution in the personality and character building of an individual. In one study, for example, emphatic concern for others at age thirty-one was greater for those subjects whose family life at age five was characterized by high scores on four factors: father’s involvement in child care; mother tolerance of the child’s dependent behavior; her inhibition of the child’s aggression; and her satisfaction with the maternal role (Koestner et al., 1990). On the other hand, Family abuse and violence surely act as a destructive force in our society. They produce consequences that sometimes reverberate throughout the victim’s lives and even in future families. Victims of incest suffer alienation and other emotional difficulties into adulthood. Abused and neglected children are more likely to become violent, criminal adults (Alexander, Moore and Alexander, 1991). In general, abused children show a variety of difficulties, including aggressiveness, problems relating to peers, lack of empathy, depression, and trouble in school. The child’s own behavior seemed to have little long-term significance, although more disobedience in the home was associated with lower levels of emphatic concern in adulthood.
Family abuse and violence surely act as a destructive force in our society. They produce consequences that sometimes reverberate throughout the victim’s lives and even in future families. Victims of incest suffer alienation and other emotional difficulties into adulthood. Abused and neglected children are more likely to become violent, criminal adults. In general, abused children show a variety of difficulties, including aggressiveness, problems relating to peers, lack of empathy, depression, and trouble in school. The child’s own behavior seemed to have little long-term significance, although more disobedience in the home was associated with lower levels of emphatic concern in adulthood (Wilk, 2003).
Children are abused by parents as well as their family members, but severe abuse, particularly of young children, is more often inflicted by parents and caretakers. Boys suffer more physical abuse than do girls, and mothers are more likely than fathers to physically abuse their children. In contrast girls suffer more sexual abuse than do boys, and fathers are more likely than mothers to sexually abuse their children.
Children need not be physically victimized to suffer from it. Simply being around marital discord and violence can produce emotional, social, and academic problems. Those who see their parents hitting each other are more likely to inflict aggression on their own spouses in the future. Furthermore, distressed mothers who punish their children in anger can become emotionally unavailable to their children.
Worried parents can pass their strain to their children. Working mothers tend to show rejecting and punitive parenting behavior when they dislike their job or when they lack social support for their role. Lower-income women can usually afford fewer laborsaving devices and services and must usually work longer hours, all of which can produce greater stress and aggression. This strain bound to create negative effects on children.
The children of divorced parents show higher levels of depression and a sense of loss. They also exhibit lower self-concept scores, suffer more injuries and experience more anxiety, behavior problems and academic troubles. They often carry their difficulties to adulthood, showing higher than average level of psychological maladjustment, educational failure, and violent behavior.
After the trauma of parental divorce or death, children face another round of emotional trials. As a result, they will show slightly higher rates of problem behaviors such as fighting, poor academic performance, depression and anxiety.
There are number of reasons for the special difficulties faced by stepchildren. First, family reorganization deprives them of stable role models. As a result, they may receive inadequate socialization. Second, neither children nor stepparents have a clear script for their relationship. Third, socio-biologists claim that the higher rates of abuse and neglects from stepparents should come as no surprise. Such parents have no inherent motivation to care for children who are not carrying their own genes, and the children thus lack any normally innate protection.
Effects on Education
Students from such multi-problem families earn lower grades and test scores, partly because single parents are likely to be minority embers and to have low levels of education. Also, single parents (and stepparents) tend to give their children less encouragement and help with schoolwork. The rest of the explanation lies less in such family’s economic circumstances than in the student’s own misbehavior, including absenteeism, lateness, and not doing homework (Catsambis, 2001). The research does not explain such misbehaviors, but anger, frustration, and inadequate parental supervision are cited as possibilities. While students from single parent’s homes certainly can do well in school, this background factor is generally viewed as a disadvantaged. Having a single- parent head of household is an especially strong predictor of dropping out of school (Fitzpatrick & Yoels, 1992).
Researchers have identified another disadvantage students can bring with them to school: large family size. Generally speaking, family size correlates negatively with academic success- the larger the family, the lower achievement tends to be– though race, the mother’s age, the presence of other adults in the household, and other factors complicate this picture. The difference may result from children in small families receiving more attention and intellectual stimulation from their parents (Dodd & Konzal, 2000).
What is Resiliency?
Resiliency can be defined in a number of ways. For example, “…resilience refers to the individual’s ability to adjust and adapt to the changes, demands, and disappointments that come up in the course of life” (Joseph, 1994; p. xi) or “Resilient children are defined as children who cope well considering the environmental stressors and deprivations to which they were exposed during their formative years” (Milgram and Palti, 1993; p.207).
Resiliency is a complex term and can be defined in number of ways. In fact, different researchers define resiliency according to the context of their research. However, for the present situation we can define resilience as the ability to conquer the hurdles and obstacles caused by the problematic family environment by using different coping strategies.
Scholars have suggested number of coping strategies and enhancing resilience among children of multi-problematic families. Young children possess great resilience capability and can easily be recovered from the negative effects of violence or any other traumatic and problematic family abuse. Research has shown that young children have a developing brain and their personality can be shaped according to their early experience (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Former chief psychologist and director of clinical services at a southeastern U.S. facility for adjudicated youth, Vincent Ramos is of the opinion that some kids who experience violence resist the temptation to adopt violent behavior. He says, “The fact is, we cannot determine risk with any significant reliability.” He further added, “More youth than not are resilient and are capable of surviving the worst of conditions without becoming criminals or resorting to violence. For instance, the fact that most of the school-shooting subjects were loners and were not connected to a community does not mean that all subjects with the same characteristics will turn to violence. Most do not. It is rare when they do, in fact” (Stepp, 2009).
Researchers have identified some positive attitudes which help to enhance the resilience in children of problematic families. The researchers believed that these core competencies are directly proportional to the resilience of children. These core competencies are:
· Positive Sense of Self: it is the positive understanding of self with all the strengths and weaknesses of the personality. In aggression, people mostly forget “who am I”, the presence of high level of this competency help the child to maintain control in case of aggression
· Self-Control: Self Control helps the children to regulate their aggressive and negative behavior. It also regulates the emotional reaction and thus enhance the positive attitude and resilience of a child
· Moral system of belief: if a child has a solid and concrete moral system of belief he may care and respect for the feelings of others which controls his aggressive and violent behavior
· Decision making skill: Researchers deduced that, “when compared with adults, adolescents overestimate risk” (Guerra and Bradshaw, 2008). According to them, “perceived benefits, as opposed to risks, are more likely to drive [teens’] decisions” (Guerra and Bradshaw, 2008). Research has also revealed that decisions of violent adolescents are entirely different from the non-violent youth.
· Prosocial connectedness: it highlights the role that interaction with significant others plays in personality development. Over the course of the first year of life, infants develop a specific and enduring relationship with primary caretakers, which has been termed; attachment. Proximity to an available and responsive caregiver provides the infant with a secure base that enables the infant to handle distress, form new close relationships, and develop his or her individuality. According to this theory, interaction with unavailable and rejecting caretakers leads to a sense of mistrust in the world, serious doubts about self-worth, and chronic distress (Cohen & Knitzer, 2004).
Humans tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and well step outside normative boundaries to do so. The research has shown that problematic families implant many complexities in the personality of their children and they often behave in violent and aggressive manner.
However, there are some positive attitudes and core competencies which, if instilled properly in the personalities of the children of problematic families, can improve their resilience and regulate and control their violent and aggressive behavior.