Changing family structure in Pakistan: A bliss or not?

(Aneequa Ali, Karachi)

Any society's cultural, social, and religious values are shaped by the family structure. The ways of living defines the norms of the society. Pakistani society is witnessing a change in family structure, be it due to influential reasons from the West or the notion of modernization. A family is considered a vital institution of any society. Hence, its characteristics are what plunge into the roots of social structure. If we compare the current social structure and behavior of people with patterns of previous few decades, we see that people have become flexible with the traditions and have started to show less rigidity towards the norms. This change in pattern has directly affected the family structure of Pakistani society, which is transferring from joint families to nuclear families.

In the older days, joint family system was the norm of our society. Children lived with their parents, grand-parents, and extended family under a single roof. It was considered that the eldest one in the family has the right to make the rules of the house. It was considered a collective responsibility of all the elders to guide the kids and teach them the way of living. Children felt more close to their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins and grew a strong bond of trust and love. In its truest sense, joint family system contributes to social security and companionship. But, nuclear family system has become the call of the modern age. Many joint families have been splitting up into smaller families for a number of reasons.

The desire of freedom is one of the major causes of formation of these little family structures. It's not wrong to desire freedom but isn't this freedom driving us away from the bond we used to have with our families? To avoid unwanted opinions and constant interference in life matters, the new generation is attracted towards the idea of moving out and getting settled separately from their parents. To a certain extent we can say that this transition is because of the increasingly growing materialistic nature of the society which has undermined the need and significance of human emotions and interactions. As much as the idea of exploring and experiencing the life on one's own seems interesting, it does reduce the social security of the individual. Living separately might save you from constant interference of family members, but it will also demand the most responsible side of you because once you are on your own or a part of "micro" family, you have to be fully in-charge. It requires your 24/7 attention on daily life matters. A simple example can be of a lady living in a nuclear family system and who wants to work but then she has to choose between taking care of her child & career, as now there is no-one back home to take care of the child except probably a nanny. If we further contrast the two family systems, it is believed that children who are raised in a joint family system tend to be more shy and introverts due to the fact that they are constantly under a suppressed environment and are being controlled by the elders hence they have lesser abilities to make their own decisions. The changing norms and competitive nature of society requires more confidence out of kids and expect them to be out-spoken and head-strong. So now the parents believe that keeping their children in a nuclear family can give their kids more chances to explore life which might not have been possible if they were under a shared roof with their grandparents and other family members. One more fact which has decreased the significance of joint families is the difference of opinions, people might not be able to share same thoughts and it causes a political arena within the household. So to avoid the 'family politics', the idea of nuclear family system seems to be more appealing.

Conclusively, both systems have advantages as well as drawbacks and it is difficult to take a stance in favor of one. The view varies from family to family. There are still people who live in big families and are happy while others have gotten used-to to the modernized way of living. It is still questionable that which system is it that can be more beneficial and can contribute to a prosperous and healthy society.

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25 Sep, 2019 Views: 2762


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