The family has a major influence on how the personalities of individuals are formed. Every person was born into a family and spends a major part of their lives under the tutelage of parents or guardians. Even though there are cases where a child may have been abandoned by his parents or lost them to early death, majority of people grew up in family. Many of the character traits that we exhibit in our later lives are things we picked up when growing up. I will examine how the family affects or influences our overall personality development.
- Genetic FactorThe genes in the family have a great influence on several aspects of an individual's personality. It is said that about 40-60% of the level of intelligence, emotional stability and basic personality traits of an individual is determined by the genes. In some cases, certain disorders such as schizophrenia or depression can be passed down from parents to children. The physical attributes of the individual are also influenced by the genes of the family. Some other personality traits such as: leadership skills, obedience to authority, drive for success, stress resistance, positive ambition, committed to goals have all been found to be genetically influenced.
- Parenting styleOne of the major things that help children as they are growing up is the way which their parents brought them up. Children who grow up in a family setting where love was expressed to them and parents
show positive affection to them are said to have a healthy personality. They develop a sense of belonging, confidence, individuality and self-esteem. If they were encouraged by their parents to strive for excellence in all they do in life, they usually grow up to become more focused and determined to succeed in life.
The temperament and behaviour of the individual is influenced by the experiences they had in their family. Children who grow up in loveless family tend to develop certain personality disorders in later years. Parents who argue and fight a lot in the presence of their children, they may exhibit very aggressive behaviour to people and in some cases, cry often. There are four different parenting styles that influence the behaviour of children. These are: the authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved.
The Authoritarian Style - parents who use this style make high demands from their children and do not allow them think for themselves. This results in children who are very obedient and lack self esteem.
The Authoritative Style - this style is more democratic than the authoritarian model but parents adopting this style are able to raise children who have positive self-esteem and are obedient.
The Permissive Style - parents who use this style put no demands on their children and this can result in raising children who are rebellious to authority.
The Uninvolved Style - in this case, parents are not involved in the life of their children. This results in children that perform poorly in every area.
Since parents play a major role in the personality development of their children, they must take this responsibility seriously. Their positive involvement in the lives of these children has a great effect on how they grow up to become in future. They need to adopt the parenting skills that would work best for them.
- Birth OrderIt has also been observed that the age and position of a child in a family affects their personality. For the oldest children, it is observed that they tend to grow up quickly and are expected to be more responsible, they seem to have a strong desire to achieve more because their parents demand more from them, they are expected to care for their
younger siblings and need to show good example, they seem to be more independent. It is also said that most firstborns grew up with good personality traits and are known to be reliable, diligent, dedicated, structured in their thinking, cautious in taking decisions and are high achievers. They are also known to be controlling of others. The middle children tend to be given less responsibility over the younger ones than the firstborn, they are less independent and feel that they are overshadowed by their older and younger siblings. They are observed to people pleasers, sometimes rebellious, have large number of friends and they are said to feel left out as parents seem to focus on the firstborn or lastborn of the family. In most families, the youngest child seem to receive lots of attention and protection from their parents and siblings, they are guided more frequently by other family members, they also pampering more than the other children, they are more unlikely to be independent. They are also said to be fun loving, manipulative, outgoing and attention seekers, self centred and uncomplicated. There exists some level of rivalry between siblings which sometimes helps them develop good qualities like how to share and compromise on issues.
For children who are the only child of the family, they enjoy the full attention of their parents. They are also more mature than their age, perfectionists, diligent and hardworking.
There are also some exceptions to the traditional birth order. We have situations where there are blended families. In a case where there is a divorce and remarriage, and there are children coming from both sides, it has been observed that this leads to serious problems and conflicts. For example, the firstborn from one of the spouses now finds out that he or she is no longer the first as an older step sibling takes the new position or the youngest in the family now has a new baby who takes all the attention from them. This can lead to issues which may affect the personality development of these children.
In the case of an adoption, care should be taken to ensure that the adopted child is helped to integrate into the family so as not have conflicts relating with siblings in that family. To avoid this, it is usually better to adopt children when they are much younger.