Family is one of the most valuable and irreplaceable things that one is blessed with in a lifetime. A family is the foundation to everyone’s life. The outcome of your life is dependent on your family. Morals and values are obtained from your family circle. There are many types of family that exists in today’s society, each important to the upbringing of children. The most common type of families found in Maldives are extended family and nuclear family. Nuclear family is a family unit consisting of a mother and father and their children.
Extended family is a family group that consists of grandparents, parents, children, siblings and their immediate family, uncles and aunts living together in the same house. According to Population and Housing Census, 2006 (2007), roughly 80 percent of Maldivian households consists of a single nuclear family composed of a married couple and their children rather than an extended family. Nevertheless, Male’ city, the capital of Maldives is flourishing with more extended families living in the households.
In fact, this development is due to people migrating to Male’ for better health facilities, quality education, job opportunities and many more luxurious facilities. However, extended families living together in Male’ has many benefits and drawbacks. Many people who have extended families find that due to several generations living under the same roof, there are plenty of role models for the children of the household to look up to and learn from, with many elder family members being able to pass down certain traditions to the younger members.
In today’s world where people talk about equal opportunity as well as high living costs, where both parents have to work in order to provide all the necessities for the children, grandparents take care of the younger children. They see to that the child has nutritious food and keep an eye on them thus preventing them from getting into bad habits. Also they talk to the children or share stories from their past which develops a strong bond between them. Being in a bigger family with more people to talk to help a child develop quicker.
For example, with more voices in the house, toddlers may start talking quicker, also this helps children their language development. According to What influences child development? (2012), the family that invests time, energy and love in raising a child will see the most positive growth. On the other hand, different experiences and beliefs each generation grew up create barriers between generations. Grandparents have difficulty enjoying grandchildren’s fashion, works situations, future plans or use of new technology.
Grandchildren have difficulty in understanding their grandparents because they feel that their privacy is being invaded, and their grandparents intervene in their life by setting limits. Hence it develops conflict among the old generation and the young generations. Furthermore, living in Male’ very expensive. According to the Vulnerability and Poverty Assessment 2004, renting households across all income groups paid around 45 percent of their income on rent.
Thus sharing the rent and expenses among all the members resulted in many family members living in small households congested with a lot of family members. Even though expenses of rent, utility bills and foods is shouldered by all members, misunderstanding and conflict arises on how members contribute to foot the bills and how they get to maximize the use of things which are bought to the household. For example, a computer system bought by one sibling may be used more by a child of another sibling and may not be available for use when in need.
These kinds misuse of facilities available create sibling rivalry. These kinds of conflicts leads to fallout among members which take longer to forgive and arguments can reignite very easily. On the other hand in an extended family you can find a stronger feeling of security being surrounded by family and knowing that there will be someone to support you when in need. Like everyone being able to support one another through a crisis such as one of the family members losing their job. In these cases, all extended family work together to support each other until a new job can be found.
Extended families also give the feeling of belonging because we see people who have a link to us through origin, making them feel something bigger than just themselves. According to Population and Housing Census 2006 (2007), the capital Male’ with an area of about 2 sq. km. accommodates 35 percent of the country’s population of 298,968. In short this means that Male’ which has always been the center of all development in the country results in overcrowded housing units. Vulnerability and Poverty Assessment 2004 explains that between 1997 and 2004, the proportion of people living in
houses with 40 square feet or fewer of housing areas per person has increased from 17 to 22 percent and the percentage of houses with a compound has decreased from 57 to 39 percent hence making the capital city much more crowded. As a result members living in a household have less personal privacy and weak family relationships. Most of the time during weekends people want to be on their own, but in an extended family these types of freedom are not possible. It is certainly disturbing that somebody is playing cards or PS-3 or watching television while others are working at home or studying for exam or just relaxing.
If kids are fighting and elders have a misunderstanding then in these families people will not have a peaceful environment. Parents find it difficult to spend quality time with their children on an individual basis and also find it impossible to have private time away from them. Lack of privacy is linked to depression and other negative psychological outcomes like physical health. First household crowding can produce stress that leads to illness. Second, through shared physical proximity, household congestion contributes to the spread of communicable disease.
A significant body of research, conducted primarily in affluent countries, has documented the unfavorable effects of housing conditions on a range of illnesses, including various contagious diseases. On the other hand, where most of the family are working to earn a better income, household chores becomes easier as it is shared among all members. Humans are social, in terms of nature and thus they cannot live alone. Therefore, people’s character and ethics are grown and strengthened through family.
It is proven that an extended family is a better economic unit because it consumes lesser resources and provides more role models for behavior of values. In conclusion living in extended family is tough because you lose a significant amount of freedom and is forced to sacrifice a lot for your family. But realize the value of having family to help and support when in need. Taking the country as a whole extended families will out win advantages over disadvantages. But regard to the capital city, Male’, disadvantages outweighs advantages of extended family.