Family Functions

Turnbull and Turnbull postulate that families exist to meet the needs of individuals within the family unit, as well as the overall needs of the family itself. The tasks that families carry out in order to meet these needs are referred to as family functions; the authors divide these into eight categories:

As nurses are well aware, these family functions are interrelated, and a problem in one area can have implications for other family functions. If a family has financial problems (economics), parents may not be able to afford appropriate outings (recreation) or even food and shelter (daily care) for their children.

If the parents are depressed about their money problems, they may feel badly about themselves as providers (self-esteem) and feel isolated from their children (affection) or church (spiritual). When families have serious problems in one or more areas of function, it’s not uncommon for them to ignore a child’s poor grades (education) or behavioral problems (socialization).

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Nurses working with families should focus on one area of family function at a time, in order to establish clear goals and objectives.