The role of the extended family in Ghanaian society….

Family is a social unit of two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption and having a shared commitment to the mutual relationship. This therefore, explains why each individual has a role to play in enhancing the goals of the family, especially the extended family.

For some few years now, due to modernization and globalization, individuals have tried to distance themselves from the extended family and concentrating on their nuclear family. While some think maintaining the extended family has demerits, so does others think of the nuclear family. The question we should ask as Ghanaians is “can we really do without the extended family?”. Some might agree whiles others will not. As Africans and proud ones for that matter, we cannot do without our extended families, as for most part, it is the most important unit of Ghanaian structure. The Extended family includes, parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins, nephews, nieces, grand- parents and great-grand parents. Marriage is very important in Ghanaian society. It is seen as more than just a union between two individuals. Instead, it is viewed as the union between two extended families.

The extended family is such that, it has been an integral part of the Ghanaian culture as it has helped in building the country in diverse ways such as socially and economically. This family structure has helped cater for the needs of dependents in the family and it is the first point of socialization for an individual. For example, one can hear in Ghana, where relatives such as nephews asking uncles for some form of assistance and he or she could be helped. One can rely on each other in terms of needs which helps prevents or minimizes social vices in the community. When this occurs, it results in the transfer of norms and values and when the child grows he or she passes it on and even extends it to non-family members because of the way he or she was brought up.

Extended family also helps reduce the rate of unemployment in the country. For example, an uncle who owns a farm can employ his nephews and other relatives who are unemployed to help work on the farm in order to yield profit and to reduce the burden in society.

Extended family in Ghana is a form of multi-parenting to the child. This is because the child is taught different things from different relatives which enables him learn more, become more experienced and exposed widely. This multi-parenting also ensures that one does not feel rejected by the family. A typical example is where a grand-parent practically loves his or her grandchildren very much despite the love or hatred shown by other members of the family.

This family structure moreover, helps individuals to be united, develop team work, skills and good leadership skills as they are able to relate to themselves well because they do it often and so when they become big people in society they work effectively as they are well trained from home.

The extended family could be a significant means to ball the country out of most of its socio-economic issues that it faces as it is advantageous and should therefore, be maintained to bring out the “African” in us and for the development of Ghana.

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