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Family in the West

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    Family in the West

    As we all know, the family system in the west is quite different from our traditional pakistani family. This difference is because of the set of values that the individual is given by the culture.

    Although, North America is the land of all cultures, this multi-cultural society has yet to recognize the family of the east and incorporate this into its infrastructure.

    Here is an example of what I mean. Many of us here, like me, live with parents and siblings and still believe in sharing rather than dividing. There is a pool of monetary income and all the family needs are satisfied from it. Inherently, this system has its own advantages like guarding against mishaps of job loss etc.. However, one faces a major difficulty when you file your tax returns and have to make up for your living style in terms of the logic in the west.

    We have already taken a few steps on the group and organization level in increasing awareness about our family system, and we all should do the same too, do all agree?

    The only advantage that I can think of for living together is economical. The pooling of resources and economising by bulk buying groceries. Here in the UK many young Pakistanis also take out a mortgage and purchase a property but continue to live with their parents whilst the mortgage is paid by renting the property.

    There is a price to pay though for all this penny pinching and that is the lack of autonomy and privacy. For newly wed couples this can be a hefty price to pay. A relationship is stifled when you neither have total control over your affairs nor the privacy to develop your relationship. So many relationships have broken down ending in divorce and single parenthood that could have been avoided had other members of the family not interfered.

    This living together as extended families is coupled with many Pakistani parents tendency to control every aspect of their childrens lives. Clinging to each other is not a sign of love. A healthy family will not feel threatened by a reasonable distance between members. Letís give each other some space.

    Farouq Taj.


      Intersesting perspective. Yes, our family traditions does not allow us to demand privacy and a demand like that considered as selfishness.
      Amazingly, this feeling of deprivation of privacy is more common among the young people (or couples) living in Euorope or in North America in a joint family enviornment. The main resaon, dont laugh but that is true, is the way, houses and apartments are constructed here. They are not designed for big families. They are design for family of four (husband, wife and 2 kids) with the assumption that kids will move out after 16 or 18. If more than two adults are living in most of the appartments in USA, then a compromise over privacy becomes essential.
      The prince who is otherwise known as TLK


        Although privacy is an issue in the dabate, but not the issue at hand.
        Tariq, you're right in saying that the accomodation isn't meant for a big family and that is one small thing which need or not be changed. In our culture and religion and our values, parents have a very special place. Children are supposed to take care of them as they did during the childhood stages of their sons and daughters. Makes sense in the give and take notion too! We are not supposed to be sending them to old homes or let them live
        in solitude only to be in pain etc..
        Similarly, there are other issues in a joint-family not necessarily concerned with privacy alone.