Studies, opinions, social science, commonly known facts, and psychology have all shown and continue to show that the single most influential factor in an individual’s life is the family structure that they grew up in. It affects their behavior, education, career choices, relationships, religious values, and eventually the formation of their own family, which will in turn effect all areas of their own children’s lives. Thus we see the importance of the family structure, and the safety that comes from establishing a good home for children and parents.
A genogram is a device, much like a family tree, that can be used to show this multigenerational effect of family and home life. It allows individuals to identify behavior patterns which get past from generation to generation. These trends can be beneficial, harmful, or neutral, but once established it is only through conscious effort or a large shift that they are broken. Genograms show the importance of creating a good home environment, because the patterns of interaction will lead to lifelong patterns.
Our family of origin is so important because it is the first social group which we are part of. From our parents and siblings we learn how to interact with others. It is the purpose of this social institution to provide an environment where individuals can feel safe. Daily life provides its fair share of misfortunes and stresses. Home should be a refuge from these things, a place where individuals can be themselves and grow up happy, even if things aren’t always ideal.
The goal of the home is to create safety for husbands, wives, sisters, and bothers. It should be a relief from the daily hassles of work and school. It should be a place children can complain about school and feel vulnerable when they don’t understand their math assignment, but also know they will receive the help they need even if it takes all night. It should allow parents to come home from a hectic work day and have a meal with people they love even if they have to help prepare it.
I view the goal of parenting as teaching children to get along on their own. This home that we need to establish allows the optimal teaching environment where children, parents, and spouses can make mistakes but work through them together and learn from them, and in the end still be good friends.
It seems crazy that one environment can accomplish all this, but that is why Urie Bronfenbrenner said, “The family is the most powerful, the most humane, and by far the most economical system known for building competence and character (1986)” And since this one structure plays such a tremendous role in determining what will happens in life is vital that we promote, encourage, and work towards creating good homes which will set the foundation upon which individuals lives will grow.