Family is a small group formed by father, mother and one or more children. As the most important primary group it performs several functions- the essential and the non-essential. But the functions of family are changing fast today due to the impact of modern industrialization, spread of education, rapid development of transportation and communication. The changing functions of family are as follows:
(1) Change in economic functions
In the traditional family most of the goods for consumption were made at home. Thus, members of the family were all engaged in the family industry. It was a unit of production and the centre of economic activities. But, today in the modern society the importance of family as an economic unit has been lessened. The members of the modern family do not work together. They are engaged in different activities outside the home. However, the old pattern has not been destroyed; it has been changed.
(2) Change in religious functions
Previously, family was regarded as the centre for the religious training of the children who were born from their parents with various religious virtues. In old family various religious practices were carried on which made the outlook of the children religious. But now-a-days, family does not observe religious practices as before and has become secular in outlook. Family prayers are also obsolete.
(3) Change in the educational functions
In old days, the family acted as an important educational agency where the child was born. The child learnt the first letters under the guidance of parents. But today, the child learns in a kinder garden. The modern families have delegated the task of vocational education to technical institutes and college.
(4) Change in recreational functions
The old family provided recreation to its members. They used to sing, dance and visit the family relations. Now-a-days families do not provide recreation to its members. The members seek entertainment outside their families.
(5) Change in function relating to health
The functions relating to health which were performed in the old family, have now been transferred to hospitals and clinics. The child is born today not at home but in the hospital. Instead “The house where I was born”, the phase “The hospital where I was born”, is more relevant to modern conditions.
(6) Change in the function of socialization
Today many agencies help family in the process of socialization, such as hospital, kinder garden schools etc. Now-a-days women go to work leaving their children at the creches where educated women take care of them. Thus from the discussion, we are clear that almost all the functions of family which were found previously have not been destroyed but changed to a great extent.