Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

An Investigation of Preschool Children's Family Functions: A General Outlook on the Family from the Mother's Perspective

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

An Investigation of Preschool Children's Family Functions: A General Outlook on the Family from the Mother's Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aims to investigate preschool children's family functions. To fulfill this aim, mothers' viewpoints and characteristics (e.g., educational level, age, number of children, time spent in Istanbul, relations with spouse, employment status, relatives living in the same house, and perceived economic level) have been considered. The study sample consists of the mothers (n = 897) of 416 girls and 481 boys aged 5 years old (60-72 months) attending 16 preschools in Istanbul. The findings show that less healthy family functions are displayed by young mothers than older ones; primary school graduate mothers than more educated ones; mothers with three children than those with fewer children; mothers who have lived in Istanbul for 20-29 years than those who have lived longer; mothers who have other relatives living with them than those who do not; non-working mothers than working ones; and mothers who stated that they were satisfied and moderately satisfied with their jobs than those who stated they were very satisfied. Other noteworthy findings are that the better the mother perceives her relations with her spouse and the better the economic situation, the healthier the family. The results also reveal that as the number of relatives living with the family increases, family functions become less healthy.

Key Words

Functional structure of family, mother, preschool children

The family is the primary institution responsible for early childcare and education. The faster and bigger social changes encountered in our century also affect the structure, needs, and relations of this institution (Oktay, 2000). The quality of the relationships formed during early childhood affects behavior and thoughts throughout a lifetime. Studies have shown a significant relationship between the psycho-social development of children and their family relationships (Baflal, 2004). The healthy or unhealthy behaviors of parents are closely related to family dimensions such as problem-solving behaviors within the family, communication skills, role-fulfillment, the expression of emotional reactions, and the display of interest in one another, behavior control, and the perception of the general functions of the family. In fact, the family itself is a natural system and has many functions. Each part of the system is able to affect other parts (Levi, 1986; Riley, 1990; Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 1991).

Lewis, Beavers, Gosselt and Philips define functional (healthy) families as those that fulfill their functions to an expected level; and unfunctional (unhealthy) families as those who are not able to fulfill their functions due to ineffective family interaction (cited in Andrews, 1979). At the base of an unhealthy family lies spouses who cannot get along, have different ego ideals, and who cannot establish effective communication or interaction. These turn into various pathological behaviors and may harm both spouses and the children. In healthy families, there is flexible interaction which can be adjusted if the need arises. In unhealthy families, the members do not have an open communication with each other. They do not discuss family matters and look for solutions; they are estranged from each other; and harbor negative feelings for one another (Beavers, 1981; Gürakar, 1991; Demirsar, 1985; Dönmezer, 2003; Bulut, 1993). The members of unhealthy families are deprived of the feelings of loyalty and belonging. Their emotional development is at risk and there is an increased possibility for the emergence of psychopathological reactions (Gutknecht & Butler, 1985). In situations where the roles of the family members are weak or vague, the family may be unhealthy and several problems may arise (Frude, 1991). According to Beavers's Functional Levels Model (1981), there is a high level of capacity for discussion, respect for individual preferences, compassion and humor in the healthy and balanced family type. As families go towards the unhealthy type, they generally become unbalanced by getting farther away from the core. …

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