Reflection
on Family Values

“You don’t choose your family. They
are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” – Desmond Tutu

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Being at the age I am, I believe now that I have finally
come out of my cocoon, and the world is finally starting to make somewhat sense;
I am becoming exponentially aware of my purpose and priorities in life, one
being the importance of familial ties. Being born and bred in a country like
Pakistan, joint family systems were conventional and traditional household
set-ups are found everywhere. Joint family/Extended Family (also
undivided family, joint household, extended family system) is a group of
consecutive generations, sharing the same living space. I consider myself
fortuitous to have spent a considerable chunk of my adolescence with not just
my immediate family, but extended too – particularly, my grandparents who were
sages of wisdom. I had the chance to grasp new, thought-provoking ideas from
them and incorporate them into my everyday-life. For this purpose, I hold my
family values very dear and I believe that this commitment makes me the person
I have shaped to become today.

My culture and heritage
gives immense relevance to importance of kinship and it goes without saying
that over there, every other person’s ultimate goal in life is to do something substantial
for their loved ones. This non-individualistic approach has had a much positive,
lasting impact on the societal system as the elderly are taken care of, women
can go work while grandparents babysit, there are no absent fathers and shared
values blossom affection and love for all members.

In the West, notion of
traditional family system is eroding. I firsthand witnessed this, when I
arrived in U.S. The difference in cultures is staggering. Divorce is the norm
of the day, and its alarming rate sees no end. In the U.S, almost every 2
people out of every 10,000 get divorced. That’s shockingly about 876,000
divorces every year. Annulment of marital lives has been a direct outcome of
globalization – driven by mass-media such as television, film and more
recently, internet that disseminates ideals of romantic-love, raising the bar
of expectations and setting yardsticks. Furthermore, another factor is establishment
of centralized governments in places that previously composed of small
autonomous societies. Governments daily make active attempts to mold new forms
of traditional life in this industrial, capitalistic world. Most of the West
has industrial-based economy, compared to the agrarian-one in the unprivileged
parts of the world which makes it feasible for families to live close whereas,
industrial firms have disrupted family systems as men move to urban-areas to
make a better livelihood.

We cannot overlook the
intensity with which children are distressed by the disintegration of family
bonds. Children
living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent more healthy, on both
physical and mental terms compared to children with a single-parent. Having
gone through a similar situation, I can easily relate. My parents got separated
when I was twelve years old, which resulted in some drastic changes in my
personality and outlook. I cut off a lot of friends which plunged me 6 feet
into a pit of depression. But there was a silver lining to it, as due to the
joint family system, that time brought me close to my maternal grandparents
which helped me to cope through it.

            Two
years after this detachment, my parents resolved their issues and got back together.
Even though the harsh time helped me grow a backbone, it is something that I believe
no one deserves to face. Families should compromise, and always stick close together
no matter what. Couples should sit, talk and settle on solutions rather than
filing for a divorce as it can have adverse consequences. Research by the
British market research firm ComRes states that in a poll of young people aged
14 to 22 whose parents were either divorced or separated, they found children
were performing worse on exams, struggled to finish homework, got into more
trouble at school, and were skipping classes. I believe that every child deserves to be loved
and taken care of, and all grandparents deserve to spend time with their
grandchildren. Divorce is not a solution to any problem but itself creates a
lot more problems hence should be avoided at all costs.

“Do you know why I never even considered becoming a divorce attorney? Because it’s beneath you?

Because
there are children involved.

When
people get caught up in divorce they often forget there are some things in life
that are more important than money.”

“Suits”,
season 5 episode 4, 31:40-32:00.