Friday, June 11, 2010

Advantages and Disadvantages of Extended Family

ISSUES OF LIFE: Advantages and Disadvantages of 
Extended Family
My brother and his wife, when there were only two kids, together with my sister-in-law's Mom.

     Ideally, when a man and a woman gets married, they move out of their parents' homes and get their own place. However, because of many situations that include, primarily, financial lack, most young married couples are forced to live with the parents of either the bride or the groom until such time that they are able to afford to live on their own. Also, there are many instances that parents who are in their senior years live with their adult children and their families so that they won't have to live in nursing homes. There are also instances where a married sibling and his family who suffer financial lack would seek refuge in the home of a married brother or sister and their family who have to take them in because they are next of kin. Or, younger siblings of the husband or wife have to live with them because of many reasons. Well, these scenarios always happen in Philippine families, even in other Asian countries and in the western world. 
Courtesy of Photobucket, a picture of a typical 3-generation extended Asian family
     According to Thesaurus, an extended family is a social unit composed of, usually, three generations of relatives living together. The "nuclear" family or the core family is the main family unit where the extensions are attaching themselves to. Sometimes, the house gets too crowded with many family members and the privacy of the nuclear family is compromised and this is one of its disadvantages. Another disadvantage is that if the grandparents meddle with the upbringing of the children and tend to boss around the house, the nuclear couple will usually react and can create misunderstanding between  husband and wife. In this case, the "Golden Rule" applies--"whoever has the gold rules", meaning, whoever owns the house is the one who rules.  Other disadvantages, of course, are added mouths to feed and room or space to provide. 
    But there are advantages to an extended family living under one roof. Remember the movie "Home Alone" with Macaulay Culkin? The boy was left behind because the family was so big, the Mom was not able to keep track of the little boy. But they have this huge house where the uncle his family also lived and shared together with the main family. In fact, a study in 2008 said that 31% of Britons said that they thought it made financial sense to live as an extended family, perhaps because they can either share the rent or the mortgage, as well as the bills. Besides, more people can do their share in doing the household chores. My brother who lives in Brisbane, Australia now has three small kids--a 5 year-old, a 3 year-old, and a 3 month-old. My sister-in-law also works and therefore needs all the help she can get. So, she enlisted the help of her mother who is a retired school principal in Romblon, to come to Australia and stay with the kids, plus, my sister also stays with them who also helps out with baby-sitting and household chores.
     I believe that no matter the reason why relatives come to us to take refuge in our homes, it is always love that makes us accept them into our fold. If we can help other people, how much more our own flesh and blood. But wisdom is needed here because the husband and the wife should agree to take in relatives and wisdom is also needed in helping them get back on their own feet so that they won't stay with you forever, unless you both decide that you want them to stay.


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