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A family is a group of people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption. A family is started when a man and a woman are united by marriage. Some of the reasons of getting married are companionship and to get children. Children are an important component of the family.
Courtship and marriage
Courtship is the period when two people carefully study and get to know one another before they get married. Courtship enables the two partners to understand each other and to each others’ family members. It is also an appropriate time for preparation of wedding.
Marriage is the union of man and woman as husband and wife. It is the formal and legal bond between man and woman. It is normally accompanied by a wedding ceremony.
Importance of courtship
Courtship is an important period before marriage because it helps a couple to:
1. Develop self discipline – without self discipline an individual may be disqualified by the family of the potential husband and wife. He or she may also not for the challenges faced during marriage.
2. Know each other – it gives two partners an opportunity to each other’s feelings, altitudes, expectation and other aspects of life before marriage. This helps to avoid unnecessary conflicts in the future.
3. Preparation for marriage – marriage needs a lot of things to be done in advance. It does not only involve the two people who are getting married. Marriage also involves the couple’s of relatives, neighbors and friends. All these people needs time to make various arrangements. For the marriage.
4. Show evidence of maturity – people who intended to get married must be mature enough to take care of the family they are due to start.
5. Acquire property – courtship gives a couple time to acquire some basic requirements of life such as house and furniture.
Relationship between courtship and marriage
Courtship and marriage are closely related. This relationship can be seen in the following areas.
1. Courtship is the foundation of good marriage as it gives the couple time to know each other well.
2. The courtship period allows the couple to learn important life skills. For example during courtship one may learns how to love and understand his or her partner.
3. It is during the courtship that the two partners decide to get married. This happens when the two are satisfied that they can live together.
4. A good marriage needs the blessings of the parents, relatives and neighbors. It is during courtship that all these people can be brought together and know each other.
Early or premature marriages
The legal marriage in Tanzania is 18 years. Any marriage of person below that age is considered an early or premature marriage.
Customs and beliefs that encourage early marriages
Customs are habits that are passed from one generation. They include greetings, punctuality and obedience. Such habits are accepted in a society in which they are practiced.
Beliefs are things that are thought to be true by a certain community. Different society has their customs and beliefs about marriage.
The following are some customs and beliefs that may encourage early marriage:
1. Payment of bride price: Bride price is also known as dowry. It is a gift that is given to a bride or her parents by her future husband in consideration for marriage. The parents of a girl receive bride price in terms of cash, livestock or land. This can encourage early marriage because greedy parents may be tempted to marry off their young daughter to get wealth.
2. Gender discrimination in education: this is where a boy is given a priority over a girl in term of education. Some parents have wrong beliefs that educating a girl is waste of time and money. This encourages early marriage because girls are forced to drop out of school in favor of their brothers. After leaving the school the next step is usually marriage.
3. Traditional initiations: traditional practices such as initiation prepare a girl for marriage. This encourages early marriages because once a girl is initiated; she is considered a woman who is ready to start her own family.
4. Inheritance: some communities do not allow a boy to inherit property if he is not married. This encourages some boy to enter early marriages as qualification to inherit property.
5. Lack of education: some parents marry off their young daughter due to ignorance. They have not been enlightened on the danger of the practice.
Problems associated with early marriages
1. Complication during delivery: early marriages are one of the causes of maternal and infant death in the society. This is because the body of a young girl is not physically matured to carry pregnancy to fullterm and deliver safely. The complication arriving during pregnancy and labour most often result death or permanent damage to the girl’s body.
2. Prevention of young from continuing with their education: in some communities, girls are forcefully removed from school to be married off. This interferes with their education and their future plans.
3. Increase in poverty: most couples that get marriage at young age do not have reliable means of getting income. It becomes difficult for them to take care of their children. This lead to the increased poverty in the society. The children may end up in the streets.
4. Spread of HIV and AIDS: very young men and women may not be able to make correct decision on marital matters. They are at high risk of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS.
5. Breakdown of families: very young men and women may lack enough experience, knowledge and tolerance as far as family problems are concerned. They may not know how to settle their differences and sometimes minor problems may lead to separation and divorce.
Prevention of early marriages
1. Education: the society should be educated on the dangers of the early marriages.
2. Basic socio-cultural practices: society should abandon negative socio-cultural practices such as female circumcision and gender discrimination.
3. Laws: the government should enact strict laws against early marriage and enforce the existing ones to discouraging parents from forcing their children to get married at an early age.
4. Poverty alleviation: Poverty alleviation strategies should be strengthened. This will help in preventing the economic hardships which force poor parents to marry off their young girls in order to get bride price.
Foundation of the stable marriage
Stable marriage exists where the couple is united under the rule of marriage. Such a couple supports, loves and respects each other. A stable marriage is based on the following conditions
1. Agreement: there must be an arrangement of marriage between the bride and the bridegroom. The two should also agree on what they expect to achieve in their marriage.
2. Love: marriage partner must have affection for each other. Love is an important component of the stable marriage.
3. Trust: the couple must trust each other. None of them should do things that are contrary to the expectation of the other.
4. Tolerance and understanding: each partner should exercise tolerance toward the weaknesses of the other. It may not always be possible for to fully agree with the action of the other person but marriage partner should try to understand each other.
5. Transparency: marriage partner should be open with each other. It is wrong to keep it secrets which may endanger the marriage.
Types of families
There are three common types of families. These are:
1. Nuclear family: this is a family which consists of father mother and children.
2. Extended family: this is a family which consists of father mother, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives.
3. Single-parent family: this is one-parent family. It consists of one parent and his or her children. Single-parent families may result from the death of one partner, divorce or getting children when one is not married.
The importance of family
A family plays an important role in the community. Some of the reason why the family is important includes:
1. To foster co-operation in the society. Stable families are able to work together for national development.
2. To bring up children who will be honest, trustworthy and responsible people in the society.
3. By working together, families promote the development of the individual member
4. Good families act as role models in the society. Children and the youth therefore have role models they can copy.
5. Families provide the children with the opportunity to be hard workers so that in the future they can be productive citizens.
6. The family is the unit through which children are taught the customs of their society.
A stable family is the one in which peace, respect, love and good behavior are maintained. The essential needs of the family members are taken care of.
The following factors contribute to the family stability:
1. Respects: this is the situation in which members of a family value each other. The children respect their parents other than their immediate family, e.g. elders, school worker and neighbors. When family members respect each other and other people, they harmony in the family. This creates stability in the family.
2. Love: this enables family members to help each other and co-operate in all aspects of family matters. When there is love within the family, the stability of the family is enhanced.
3. Good behavior: a family is the basis for good behavior in the society. The family becomes stable if its member has good behavior.
4. Peace: a family should live in peace and avoid conflicts. Parents and children will be comfortable and will enjoy life when they are all on good terms.
Importance of family stability
Family stability is important not only to the family members, but also to community as well as the nation. The following are some of the ways in which family stability is important:
(i) Family members are able to fully participate in other social and economic activities. Children are able to concentrate in school and parents are able to concentrate at work.
(ii) Family members are able to participate in communal activities such as cleaning up markets and planting trees.
(iii) Peace in the country begins at the lowest level. Therefore, stability is the good basis for peace and stability within the country.
(iv) Family stability ensures that members are engaged in positive habits and activities. This is therefore reduces incidences of drug abuse or crime.
(v) Children from stable families are likely to want to start their own families in future, thereby ensuring the continuity of family as a unit.
Rights and responsibilities of family members
Rights are the things that one is allowed to do or that one is entitled. In the family as a unit, parents have their rights and the children have their rights. Some of the rights that parents are:
1. Making family decision.
2. Guiding and advising their children.
3. Being respected by their children.
4. Teaching their children community values.
Children in the family also have rights. These rights include:
1. Expressing their opinions.
2. Being treated equally without any kind of discrimination.
3. Being registered after birth and being given names.
4. Living with their parents.
5. Rest and leisure.
6. Getting basic and secondary needs like food, education and health care.
7. To be protected from injury, abuse, economic exploitation and from other forms of harm.
These are duties that a person is obligated to fulfill. Some parental responsibilities are:
1. Making important decisions.
2. Providing security for the family
3. Ensuring discipline is maintained by their children.
4. Providing family requirements such as food, clothes, shelter and education.
5. Taking charge of day-to-day activities of the family.
6. Loving and taking care of their children
7. Arranging and organizing family activities such as cleanliness and preparation of meal.
8. Counseling their children to be well behaved.
Responsibilities of children in the family include:
1. Helping with domestic tasks.
2. Respecting parents and elders.
3. Taking care of their young brothers or young sisters.
4. Obeying their parents and teachers.
5. Going to school to learn.
Consequences of not carrying out responsibilities
The consequences of being irresponsible are:
1. Family instability: children can acquire bad habits and create trouble in the family and in the society
2. Conflicts: frequent misunderstandings may arise between members of the family.
3. Family breakdown: a family may breakdown if there is frequent misunderstandings and quarrels.
4. Street children: in the absence of peace and provision of family requirements, children will not stay at home. They will end up in the streets.
5. Lack of basic needs: if parent do not work hard, children cannot get their basic needs as well as other needs. This lead to the poverty and lack of development in the nation.
A family is the group of people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. A family is started when a man and a woman are united by marriage.
Courtship is the period during which two people carefully study and get to know each other before they get married. Marriage is the union of man and woman as husband and wife. The importance of courtship is to:
1. Develop self-discipline.
2. Know each other.
3. Prepare for marriage.
4. Acquire property.
5. Show evidence of maturity
Any marriage of a person below the age of 18 is considered an early or premature marriage. The following are some customs and beliefs that may encourage early marriage.
1. Payment of bride-price.
2. Gender discrimination in education.
3. Traditional initiation.
5. Lack of education.
Problems associated with early marriage include complication during delivery, prevention of young women from continuing with their education, increase in poverty, spread of HIV and AIDS and breakdown of families. There are three common types of families: nuclear family, extended family and single-parent family.