ABU DHABI // More Emirati couples, particularly newlyweds, are choosing to live independently rather than in large homes with their extended families, experts say.
“Married couples are shifting towards ‘nuclear families’, which in sociology means two married people and their children live independently and that creates an independent component away from familial influences,” said Ahmad Al Omosh, dean of the college of sociology at the University of Sharjah.
He described the trend as positive, and said it helped to shape a child’s personality.
“Raising a child in the Arab world entails the aunts, uncles and grandparents spoiling the child. They are easy on him and very forgiving. Sometimes, if a child is punished by the father, he will seek emotional refuge with the grandparents and he will get away with his mistake,” he said.
Mr Al Omosh said it was important to create a healthy environment for a child in the first four years.
“The child’s personality and self consciousness is formed at that period of time and it is important to show paternal disciplinary authority.
“Extended family households are not organised and don’t have discipline, which will lead to confusion for the child. He will not know who to look up to or listen to.”
Mr Al Omosh said interference in extended families generated problems between the husband and wife as well, in turn affecting the couple’s “emotional and psychological state”.
“Marriage is a new life and the couple must know each other and discover their mistakes to be able to work on them.
“They will learn how to raise the first child and those that come after by experience, but they need to be affectionate and understanding towards each other first.”
Abdullatif Al Azazi, a family counsellor and chairman of the Excellence Centre, also said setting up home independently was the best way for a couple to begin a new life, and was vital in achieving a couple’s vision.
“In their house, the couple will know this house is their kingdom, they have the ability to plan their future without interference. They realise their responsibility and act upon them. And they will be able to build an independent household,” he said.
Mr Al Azazi said many problems occurred in big community houses, which affected a couple’s relationship with each other, as well as each spouse separately creating unhealthy emotional chaos.
In most cases, he said, the husband will want to please his family and neglect his wife. In other cases, the wife’s vision of the husband will be “shattered” when she sees how family members treat him.
“Sometimes, the mother or the father in the household have the upper hand and they will order the husband to do something or the other. The wife will first see him as her knight but that vision will slowly change and she will reject him.”
In big community homes where brothers and sisters live with the family, the wife will be the most affected and she will mostly feel like an outsider.
“She will not be comfortable in expressing her opinion in front of the family, and she will not be able to have a conversation with her husband in front of the family,” he said.
That will create disrupted communication between the couple, while living independently, he said, will allow the affection between the couple to grow.
“They will have more time with and for each other, she will be comfortable with what she wears, eats, and says,” he said.
“Their communication with each other will increase and they will be able to make better decisions. If they make their own decisions based on what they want and need, they will feel confident and appreciated by each other.”