Indo-American Families… A Traveler’s Note. (Part III) By Fr. Anand Muttungal

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I had a golden opportunity to visit a few families in different parts of United States (US). While enjoying their hospitality I asked about their family life. This helped me to understand that their family life is very different from the Hollywood film stories. Until this interaction my idea about family life in the US was not very positive as I believed families there live in bits and pieces with husband, wife and Children live a life as it pleases to them.
The American families are not child centered as is in the case of India . A child is taught from childhood to be self-motivating and self-managing that every child once grown up makes a choice of one’s own life. However, the most beautiful part of their family bond is that wherever they go they maintain a healthy relationship with each other (the parents and the children) through different modes of communication.
I also noticed that the parents keep the rooms of their children clean and neat. Some cases the parents preserve the toys of their children. This they say will help them keep the good memory of their children afresh. The children also make it a point to visit their parents on special occasions such as parent’s day, mother’s day and other auspicious occasions. The Christmas holiday is a special occasion the children are in communion with their parents.
There the couple do share the household works with each other instead of assigning the household chores as the exclusive domain of woman as is seen in India . This is a very healthy sign of a true family bond where equality and mutual respect is the corner stone of their success.
Nonetheless, in most cases parents spend their old age at old age homes or alone in their own houses, as they don’t get the kind of care and help from their children as is in the case of India. Because, the very family concept in India is centered around the children unlike in most western countries. The parents do everything for their children to the extent of identifying birdies and grooms for them. They also stay together and help the parents at their old age.
Probably most Americans believe that the child who settles down with the parents is those who failed in their life. They need the support of the parents to live and grow. In India when a child does not return home to live with the family is considered pretty bad. This concept is something ridiculous for the US couples as they consider it as “boomerang”. A ‘boomerang’ is a flying tool with a curved shape used as a weapon or as sport item that travels in an elliptical path and returns to its point of origin when thrown correctly.
An Indian study by Human Resource Department shows that Indian family life too is fast changing. Every year many youths are migrating to major cities for education and job. Arranged marriage pattern too is changing. There are a good number of youngsters who chose their life partner and inform parents to fix their marriage. There are growing cases of old parents left alone without proper care in their native places. If we analyse our society in comparison with developed countries it would be very clear that these are the signs of growing industrialization based in major cities and insufficient growth of towns and villages with less job and education opportunities. As the City based industrialization keep growing the social and family life too changes. Can we call it Westernization or evolution of being family in a new social order or fruits of lopsided development?

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