Family-Inthe context of human society, it is a group of people related by consanguinityor affinity or a combination of these. Members of family may include a father,mother, brother or a sister. Members of extended family, also known as jointfamily or multi-generational family, include grandparents, aunts, uncles,cousins, nephews, nieces and/or siblings in law. A familythat lives together with all family members up to 2nd generationlike grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts is called a Joint family. It is a common belief that living inan extended family household provides us with a few advantages such as feelingof safety and belonging, more variety of role models for the youth of thefamily to learn something from.
An estimated 49 millionAmericans (16.1% of the total population) live in homes comprising three ormore generations, up from 42 million in 2000. This situation is similar inWestern Europe. Another 34 percent live within a kilometre of their children. In many cultures such as Asians, middle eastern,Africans, eastern Europeans, southern Europeans and Latin Americans, extendedfamilies are the basic family unit. Even in some parts of Western Europe,extended family system was clearly prevalent. Nowadays, most Americans live in the same households withtheir families due to poor economy and changing social factors, as told by aresearch group.
According to the Pew research Centre’s social and demographictrends project, 16 percent of the US population live in multi-generationalhouseholds. The Pew research analysis also said that since bottoming out around1980, the extended family household ascended a comeback to a record 49 millionAmericans in 2008 due to mix of social and economic factors. The number of Americans living with theirextended family grew by2.
6 millions in years between 2007 and 2008. It has alsobeen noted recently that about one in five adults aged 25-35 and adults aged 65or older live with extended family. Social factors that are the root cause of multi-generationalhousehold include high median age of first time marriage. As a result, thereare more unmarried Americans in their 20s that find it convenient living withtheir parents because the bad economy makes it difficult to find jobs or houseson their own.
The Pew report also statedthat moving in with family is a financial lifeline for Americans.Multi-generational families share income amongst everyone living in thehousehold. In typical households,the head-of-household accounts for 85.7 percent of family income. Inmultigenerational homes, the head of the household accounts for about half ofthe family’s income.In saudi Arabia, there is a strong joint family system,mainly patriarchal because men hold a great deal of authority in Saudi Arabia.
But due to the rapid modernization and social change in the kingdom the normsand values which were deeply rooted are now foreseeing a change. The extendedfamily concept that is prevailing is mainly due to the strong Islamic culturethat is practiced in the kingdom. This culture has a great deal of respect fortheir elders. Their elders are the decision makers of the family as was done inthe previous years in the kingdom. Saudis prefer to live closelyamong their relatives and chose to wed in close relatives.
The family values,norms and culture is the strength of the kingdom , though there are many socialand behavioral changes taking place but family is considered as a strength of acommon man.If wetalk about the family system in China, family has been an integral part in theChinese society. Not only that, at least three of the Confucius’ teachingmainly concentrated on family; Husband and Wife, Father and son and Elderbrother and Younger brother. So due to this, it was common for the Chinese,even for fully grown adults with children of their own to live close to theirhometown and also have many, if not all, generations live under the same roof. The concept of family was such a strong belief that it was one of thefew ideological concepts to have survived a decade long of strife and violenceof Cultural Revolution. Although elders of china claim thatyoung adults born after 1980s possess no moral compass, strong standards ofbehaviour or even emotional attachment to families, they never stoppedbelieving in significance of a family.
In China, extended family systemdominated the society in the past. Son were permanent members of the familywhereas daughters had to leave their natal family at the time of marriage.While studying about the Chinese family, Ogla Lang identified two types ofjoint family system which include the stem family system, comprising ofparents, the unmarried children except one married son with his wife andchildren, and the joint family involving parents, unmarried and married childrenwith their wives and children. .The four generational family, known assi shi tong tang in Chinese, which consisted of sons and their descendantsliving under the same roof was never considered usual, although it may havebeen the social ideal, because of its requirement of low morality rates, socialand economic stability.
in a Chinese extended family, allmembers have a small share in property and share a common budget as well. Theirwork is interdependent. Sometimes, in some extended families, behind all thisunity and solidarity, they have the potential to arise conflicts which maycause them to go through the process of family division, otherwise known as fenjia in Chinese. Family division can break families into smaller units such asnuclear or conjugal families. The idea of family division is highly dislikedbut it is also inevitable. It is suggested that wealthier families are lesslikely to divide. . It was found that incentives to preserve the extended familywere greater in villages where reliance on labour-intensive cash crops orcottage industries rewarded unified budgets.
The structural changes in village economy had importantconsequences. The increased participated of women in paid labour of forceimproved their position in household. In villages where such changes occurred,family division was more likely to happen. In another study of families inchina, it had been suggested that such diversification in the economy led tothe disappearance of traditional extended families. InPakistan, the first question to be asked when a girl is getting married is, “Isshe going to be living in a joint family system or a nuclear family system?”and this is because people living in Pakistan consider this the main issue forthe husband, wife and their upcoming children. Back in the 80s, living in ajoint family system was believed to be a better family system to live in ascompared to the nuclear family system. Pakistani society is divided into twoparts; urban society and rural society.
As the world progresses day by day, ithas brought many changes which have affected many cultures and traditions. Forinstance, majority of the population of Pakistan used to prefer joint familyover nuclear family. However, due to witnessing more disadvantages of living inan extended family household than advantages has changed this popular belief.Nowadays, many Pakistanis believe that living in an extended family householdprovides us with more disadvantages than advantages. They believe that thisconcept has decreased due to various reasons including lack of tolerance, interference,nepotism and jealousy.
As majority believes that extended families only bringdisadvantages, there are a few exceptions who think the opposite. They believethat it provides the youth of the family to have many role models to look up toand to have adult world experiences shared with them. The elders of the familyparticularly like extended family system as it gives them joy to see such a bigand happy family with kids playing around and to see the young ones bond withone another. They also prefer to stay with their own family to be taken careof.
As they can’t fully depend on themselves anymore, they refer to their ownfamily to be completely dependent on morally, economically, emotionally andphysically. But due to this change of opinion, as more and more joint familiesare being converted into nuclear families, this will completely destroy thecare of family and its values to the elders. The maincauses of living in a joint family comprise of mainly financial support,economic instability, feeling of solidarity, economic and physical reliance ofthe elderly, unemployment, improvement of family relations and to keep thefamily culture and tradition alive.
Many people who suffer from financial instabilitytend to prefer living in a joint family system to have the support of thefamily. People also prefer to live in a joint family to experience feeling ofsolidarity and unity. It also gives you a sense of belonging and security andno matter what you go through, your family will always have your back. Familyalways stays together, through thick and thin. Living with their children andgrandchildren is certainly is a blessing for the elderly. They have someoneclose to them to rely on emotionally and physically. People who live independently or away fromtheir family usually cause their family traditions and cultures to end. This isalso the reason why people fancy living with their families, to keep the familytraditions alive for the future generations.
However, as there are manyadvantages of extended family systems, many families have to suffer from thedrawbacks as well. Not all extended families are as open-minded and liberal asthe others. In some families, the elders follow the old norms and liveaccording to old times. But the youngsters in the family like to follow the newtrends and to live according to today’s world. But unfortunately, due to theirclose minded families, if they slightly stray away from their own familyculture and to live according to today’s date they are considered as thedisgrace of the family. The head of the family is usually considered as the oneto share all your problems with. But because youngsters nowadays like to keepthings to them and because they don’t share everything they are considered asthe rebel of the family.
Today’s generation prefers to be independent and tonot burden others with their problems, which is something conservative familiesdon’t understand. This problem is connected to the problem of privacy. In mostjoint families, the concept of privacy isn’t paid as much attention as itdeserves. Young people of the family find it especially displeasing as theyprefer to stay private about a few things. Joint families in some cases improverelations and in some cases wreck relations. In every family, there is oneperson who is jealous of others and is the root cause of petty argumentsamongst the members and is also the one to spread conspiracies about oneparticular member. Their main focus is to grab all the opportunity they get totaunt and take advantage of innocent family members. Another major disadvantage of living in anextended family household is the limited space you are provided with.
At times,cousins and siblings have to share one room which causes lack of privacy anddiscomfort. There isn’t enough space for everyone. .