Family systems theory fits in the general systems theory, an approach that has been used mostly in the area co-counseling. Family systems theory views the individual as an organization of biological, psychological, and social components. Family systems theory posits that the family functions as an organizational system in which each family member affects and is affected by the others.
Each family member must be viewed in the context of his other life. This is similar to social learning theory and the social role-social system approach which utilizes both psychological and sociological variables in explaining behaviors. Social learning theory believes that social context interacts with an individual’s personal attributes in the process of learning a specific social role.
In the context of the family system, there are certain properties characterizing the system, one of which is wholeness. Wholeness refers to the relationship between family members. The behavior of each family member is related to and dependent on the behavior of all the others.
According to this concept, parents who participate in sport and fitness activities can serve as role models for children within the family context. These children should be more likely to be involved in similar activities than those who do not have such role models within the family context. Another property of the family as a system is feedback.
Feedback is the interactional process among the members of the family. Feedback can be either negative or positive. Negative feedback is the information that comes into the system and is used to maintain the status quo. Deviation in the system is corrected and prevented so that equilibrium is restored.
Positive feedback forces a system to change and prevents the system from returning to its previous state. In the process of socializing children into sport and fitness activity, encouragement and discouragement that children receive for participation from other family members, especially parents, reflect the feedback property of the family system.
It is the nature of the system’s organization and the interactional process that determines the results of the system. Relative to the study of sport socialization within the family context, it is meaningful to look at the influences of family socioeconomic factors, family structure, parents’ role models, and reinforcement patterns simultaneously.