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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Discussion: Nuclear Family vs Extended Family AND Womanhood


I was watching Oprah Show about her travel to India and it has made my running about certain issues which pertained to the show. The show focused on the life-style of Indians of different strata, the paradox of India, and the life of the women in particular. If you ever watched that show, I am sure you would see the paradox of how the culture declares the respect towards women, but at the same time would make the widows as outcast and not even their shades should fall upon you if you want good luck. To be frank, these kinds of paradox do not exist only in India, but also in other countries, in different version. It is not possible to judge that one country is like this and the other country is like that, because in the extremities of cases in India, it has its own other sides as well. In the show, it was said that “joint family (extended family) is the system that keeps the country running” but it does not mean that all the family systems there are joint families. I have been in India and I have seen that approximately 80% of the families that I have encountered are nuclear families. Another issue that was raised in the show was that the highest stress level among women in the world is in India. One of the Indian women who was interviewed in the show indicated that it is due to the multiple role complexities that one single woman has to adjust herself with. It is a must for a woman to adjust herself in roles so complex that she has to let go her identity and her dreams. All her identity and dreams are determined by the family which she would end up with after her marriage. For some of us, it may be a familiar issue while for some other, it may be a totally alien concept.

Well, that is the background of what I wish to address today. I actually wish to have an open discussion or we could say a debate regarding this. I am not going to focus on the life of women in India or in Indonesia or in other particular country. I wish to cover the general issue of womanhood in family system which exists in all over the world – the Nuclear Family and the Extended Family. It has to be noted that these two family systems prevail in all the corner of the world, no matter in which region of the globe we are. The decision towards what kind of family system is adopted would be based on the family tradition, economic situation, spacial issues, health issues, or simply the picture of symbiosis mutualism.

Psychologically every single person is bound to have the rights to freedom despite the genders. Every human being, man or woman, is entitled to certain expectations of behavior. I have touched this concept in my posting on 6 March 2013 about Why Are Women Materialistic & What's So Sexy About Men?. Other literature which would connect the dots of this issue today is the story of “Middlemarch” by George Eliot (click the link to get the PDF format of the novel and if you are not much of a reader, the story has been made to a movie which you could download). This novel talks about the contrast of marriage for two different couples. The themes explored in the novel include the status of women, the nature of marriage, religion, idealism, hypocrisy, political reform, and education.

In my personal opinion, every single person must be entitled with freedom of expression because that is one of the main ingredients for a human to have a healthy psychological condition. The way how that freedom is used would differ in each case; sometimes it could turn out good if said in good way, while in other times it could turn sour as it is not conveyed the way it should.

So, if we connect to the discussion topic today, does it mean that a woman would have better freedom of expression if she marries and be in a nuclear family? Does it mean that a woman would be more culturally aware if she marries and be in an extended family?

If you get married and you are bound to be in an extended family from your husband’s side, what would be the benefit and what would be the drawbacks?

In the same context, if you get married and you are bound to build a nuclear family, what would be the benefit and what would be the drawbacks?

There are lots of controversies saying that a woman who is married and build a nuclear family has stronger sense of responsibility of her family well-being, has better freedom to focus on her husband’s and children health condition, has better access to follow her dreams career wise or interest wise, has better sex life with her husband; while a woman who is married in an extended family has the force to follow whatever the family tradition without having her own voice when it comes to food & ways to raise children, no sense of adventure, she would not have the ability to have an objective discussion with her life partner, but in other side she would have strong sense of culture, better adjust-ability towards stressful situation, more submissive towards her husband, and safer.

Almost all these controversies exist because the marriage in an extended family runs as a forced system (established paradigm which is merely set only by the groom side), while in a nuclear family it runs as a trial and error to decide which is the best to adopt (both the values from the husband and the values of the wife would merge and establish a new common ground). What is your opinion on this?

Now, I am expecting your opinion as a debate on this blog. Please leave your opinion on the “Post a Comment” box and it has to be noted that your opinion would be filtered and it would not directly  be published. If you are reluctant to mention your name, please leave it as an “anonymous” comment.

Before I open the ground, I would like to mention that the intention of this discussion or debate is not to determine which one is better because I, as a fan of “Relativity”, believe that an Extended Family with good values would make everyone happy while a miserable partner in a Nuclear family would sink the marriage life to the bottom AND a narrow-valued extended family would make the members suffer while a good communication system and ability to except opinions of others would make the best Nuclear Family.

Let this discussion be a mediator for us in having a better perception of what we are facing and if I ask a counter-question, it is not a counter-attack, it would be just a gentle tickle to your brain. Males’ opinions are also expected J

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