Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The glass is half-full, and so is my patience

Family setups in the East are generally more well-knit than the West, or at least, that is the impression. There are a few places like Spain, Italy and Greece, which seem to still have a lasting fabric of familial ties, but I personally see those as exceptions, rather than the rule. Movies like 'Failure to Launch' are reflective of patterns of living in the West. If you're old enough to earn, you're out. If you're living in the same house as your parents, your market value falls sharply.

On this end of the spectrum, the opposite holds sway. If you're old enough to earn, you're supposed to tell your parents to relax and enjoy a retired life. You're not only supposed to provide for them, but to live with them as well. We, as a people, look down upon the concept of old people's homes. Not because the old should be left to rot, but because they deserve better. Of those who digress from their duty as obedient and caring children, it is often lamented, "One mother can wean and nurture 10 kids, but those 10 kids find it hard to care for that same woman, 30 years down the road."

I agree. Whether it is my conscience itself, or what it has been taught, I agree. Family is very important to me. It remains the fabric of my life. I would extend these feelings of belonging and responsibility to so many relatives. But...it gets tricky.

It becomes hard for most people to draw the line. At what point do they start interfering and stop caring? Should Mehek's aunt keep pressing her to get married? And if she does, should her grandmother be constantly nagging her to plan a baby? When little Amir is a year old, should Mehek's mother-in-law pressurize her to seize the day, and bring Amir's little sister into the world?

We, in the East, are proud of our family systems, but we, in the East, are also too tired of the utter lack of privacy. If you like to see the glass half-full always, then maybe, we are all superstars, because we just can't be!

11 comments:

Onkar said...

Very well-written. You have brought out the pulls and pressures quite well. We can see the increasing influence of the west on the east. How to reverse the trend is a challenge.

Abdul Sami said...

i personally hate the whole concept we have because once u wipe away the fine layer of 'family' structure u dig out deep hatred, expectations, depressions, dependencies, and a pile of lies...

not that i recommend it.. but i like what i see in uk at least ... people who are with families are with them whole heartedly... and people who stay away are not a disappointment but a cause of pride for independence... !

then again.. i speak from personal experience!

Saadia said...

Agreed. Its all about the heart. Nothing compares if you're together because you want to be.

Jay said...

I am afraid we r getting to cliches of holier than thou attitude. The individualism that is very prominent among western societies are reasons for their entrepreneurship and passion which inturn have given them awards in terms of lead in high technology and making life better.Like Abdul Sami said there is more consent than consensus.In an open society there is also more scope for new ideas getting incorporated into mainstream on merit and greater the pace of social change(rather than stuck in dogmas). But, harmless nostalgia is all right I guess..grass is always greener on the other side..

Saadia said...

Holier than thou? I've pointed out the flaws in my own system! I do, of course, believe in supporting parents and elders.

hfm said...

I agree with you, there has to be a balance between the parents being involved in their children's lives coz the barrier between caring and interfering is really thin.

My parents have told us that if we were to move out, they wouldn't want much from us but only love- when there's money involved, even family could become strangers.
:|

Tazeen said...

Honestly, there is too much interference in the desi family system and it is way too over rated. I see children kicking parents out or demanding Jaidad main hissa while parents are alive and all that.

Madiha W.Q. said...

Just as in everything else in life, moderation is the key here, too. Too much interference from the parents can ruin their children's marriages, as I've personally seen in several instances. I think it's possible to have a great relationship with one's parents despite a separate living arrangement. The tricky part comes when parents need daily care at very old age...most desi offspring wouldn't want to put them away in a nursing home because either they genuinely can't bring themselves to, or because of what the society would say.

For the parents whose children resent their presence so much that they can't wait them to die (and there are many of those among desis too) I think old homes should definitely be an option in our society, too. They don't have to be for everyone, but they should be there as an option.

Id it is said...

I'm still struggling with whether i see this as a 'glass half full' or a 'glass half empty'...

Would I rather be with my loved ones when I'm old? Absolutely! But would I give up my freedom and privacy at this point to accommodate the numerous needs of aging parents? Now that's a question I keep pushing onto the back burner because....

Gaia said...

You've highlighted all the issues, but the environment does make a difference. If it were socially acceptable to put parents in nursing homes, I'm sure lots of people would exercise the option.

human being said...

so true... unfortunately...

we had our child when we were married for 4 years... during this time some of family members and friends really got on my nerves!!!
;)