World Family Day: Changing patterns with changing times

Trend of children moving out or abroad increasing, as parents become a ‘burden’.

Sehrish Wasif May 15, 2011


Rapid urbanisation has resulted in changing social patterns. The traditional joint-family system is giving way to nuclear families, as the domestic setup becomes more “independent”.

World Family Day which is celebrated on May 15 across the globe, is a good time to examine these changing characteristics. The day, however, aims at highlighting the importance of family life and the role it plays in strengthening the society.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Simi Kamal, a well-known gender expert, said in Pakistan there is a varied trend of preferred family system. There are some who live in a nuclear family comprising a father, mother and the children, while there are others who prefer to live in an extended family system (joint family), which includes grandparents and other close relatives.

“The trend of children moving abroad or to big cities after getting married and leaving their parents behind is increasing in Pakistan,” she said.

This trend is being observed in all social classes where children, for the sake of better job opportunities, settle abroad or in big cities. The parents are often ignored in the process, sometimes even dropped at Edhi centres or old-age homes.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Najma Zahoor, in-charge of the Edhi Centre in H-8 said they receive many such parents who are either dropped by their children or relatives for various reasons.

“Sometimes we receive [as many as] five such parents per day,” she said.

Askari Begum, 70, was dropped off at the centre a few months back by some of her relatives. She was brought after being constantly beaten up by her son along with his wife, for not wanting to keep her with them. She also has a daughter, who is married and has “no soft corner for her mother”, said an Edhi official.

Khalique Hassan and his wife are also one of those unfortunate parents who wished to live with their three sons and their families. But they were abandoned as soon as the sons got married. They rarely get in touch with them anymore.

“We married our sons with a dream of having a big family, where we would all live under one roof and share all the happy and sad moments together, but this is the reality,” sighed Mrs Hassan.

Mr Hassan said, “I built a big house for my children, but it’s an empty building now, where only me and my wife live.”

‘Prevention is better than cure’

On this World Family Day, health experts have a message for a healthier family - prevention is better than cure.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Samia Babar, Director Health Awareness Society said the day should be marked by spreading awareness on how parents can help ensure a healthy future by protecting children from deadly diseases.

She said diseases like typhoid, diarrhoea and chicken pox are preventable through simple means of vaccination but in Pakistan majority of parents are unaware of it.

The vaccines are recommended for all children, and in fact, are a much safer and cheaper option.

“This causes disruption in the quality of life, schooling, parents’ work schedule and the child’s sense of wellbeing not to speak of the economic cost,” she added.

Sharing statistics she said in Pakistan over 700,000 children and adults suffer from typhoid fever every year and around two to five per cent of the patients become chronic carriers of the disease.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.


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