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Family Systems and Healthy Development

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The family is the fundamental entity of society. Therefore, it has an initial and most critical impact on individual’s growth and maintenance. The following essay will explore the relationship between healthy development and family systems. To this end, the paper will investigate the distinguishing factors for a healthy family system and the effects of unhealthy ones on development.
Family systems can have a positive or negative impact on the children’s development. Inside the family environment, a child learns to respond and interact within a social context. The traits of healthy families encompass mutuality, flexibility, stability, clear communication, role reciprocity, and respect for privacy. Children who emanate from a family system, which reciprocates love, experience family stability (for instance, they have the same caregivers throughout development). Also, such children express their feelings and learn how to interact with others outside the family unit better (Kagitcibasi, 2013). The healthy family fosters supportive and warm relationships with its members. Therefore, children learn to interact with the world in the same way.

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An unhealthy family system depicts individuation, isolation, rigidity, disorganization, distorted communication, and role conflict. A child that grows up in an isolated and unsupportive family system may grow up feeling insecure and less trusting of the world (Bowlby, 1988). Further, unhealthy systems are associated with adverse effects on brain development, cognitive and language skills, social-emotional functioning, and physical health. For instance, neglect is an instigator of academic delays, internalization (anxiety and depression) or externalization (aggression and impulsiveness) behavioral problems, and distortion in cognitive and language development. Further, research suggests that children exposed to trauma are more susceptible to physiological changes at the neurotransmitter and hormonal levels (Christian, 2006). Consequently, they are vulnerable to heightened arousal and incapable to adapt to emotions at the appropriate level. One can discern if a family displays a healthy or unhealthy system through the threshold of consistency.

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