The propagation of ‘the family’ was made desirable because of the early human combination of prolonged child care with the need for hunting with weapons over large terrains. From these early beginnings of humanity, the family has developed to form, as Skynner illustrates, the most important unit of our society today, and that which has the most marked effect on its members:

The influence of the family stands in a peculiarly central, crucial position. It faces inward to the individual, outward toward society, preparing each member to take his place in the wider social group by helping him to internalise its values and traditions as part of himself. From the first cry at birth to the last words at death, the family surrounds us and finds a place for all ages, roles and relationships for both sexes. It has enormous creative potential, including that of life itself, and it is not surprising that, when it becomes disordered, it possesses an equal potential for terrible destruction.