Family values in the Middle East: An inside look at how modern families are evolving by Nadia El-Dasher in Gulf News

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Family values are highly esteemed and deeply rooted in the Middle Eastern culture. Family members are considered the closest and most important support system, especially in times of crises. However, as the region continues to evolve, the traditional family structure is also changing. In this article, we take an inside look at how modern families in the Middle East are evolving and adapting to societal and cultural changes.

In the Middle East, family values have always been deeply ingrained. Family members are expected to be there for each other, providing support, care, and guidance. The family unit is typically large, with extended family members also being part of the core support system. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all have an important role to play in shaping the lives of the younger generation.

However, the traditional family structure in the Middle East is gradually changing. As more women enter the workforce and pursue education, the traditional gender roles are being redefined. Women are playing a more active role in decision-making processes and contributing to the family income. This shift in gender roles is also leading to changes in the dynamics of the family structure.

Another factor contributing to the changing family structure is urbanization. With the migration of people from rural areas to cities, nuclear families are becoming more common. The younger generation is increasingly moving away from the traditional joint family structure, which is prevalent in rural areas, and embracing the nuclear family model.

Furthermore, as Middle Eastern countries become more globalized, there is an increasing influence of Western culture. This is leading to a shift in attitudes towards traditional gender roles and family structures. For example, divorce rates are rising as couples are more willing to seek legal separation rather than remain in an unhappy marriage. This change is driven by a desire for greater autonomy and personal freedom.

At the same time, while there is a growing trend towards individualism and autonomy, family values remain highly valued in the Middle East. The close-knit family structure still plays a critical role in providing support and guidance, especially during times of crises. This is reflected in the extended family model, where members of the extended family are always ready to step in and help when needed.

In fact, many modern families in the Middle East are attempting to strike a balance between traditional and modern family structures. For example, while nuclear families are becoming more common, many still maintain close ties with their extended family members. They also continue to value the traditional roles of motherhood and fatherhood, while also working towards more gender equality.

In conclusion, the family structure in the Middle East is gradually changing, driven by a combination of factors such as urbanization, globalization, and changing gender roles. While traditional family structures are becoming less common, family values remain highly valued in the Middle East. The family unit remains an important support system, providing guidance and care, especially during times of crisis. Modern families in the Middle East are finding ways to balance traditional and modern family structures, maintaining close ties with their extended families while embracing new gender roles and a more individualistic lifestyle.

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