Upholding family values

Posted on

Upholding family values
By Manal Alafrangi, Staff Writer GULF NEWS Published: October 03, 2007, 23:52

There is a certain universality when it comes to the term “family values” but because the concept itself is rooted in individual cultures, ideals and morals can come across as different. So then, what happens when people of different creeds and nationalities live in one society? Do they agree on what constitutes family values? Do they share the same ideals and principles?

According to our latest survey, there is a concern when it comes to cultural values being present in the UAE. That is, more than two thirds of our respondents feel family values are being eroded in the UAE. This opinion is particularly high amongst Arabs, excluding Emiratis (73 per cent). Moreover, 62 per cent of those surveyed feel people in the UAE are courteous and respectful to others but there is a difference of opinion amongst the various nationalities; 71 per cent of Emiratis compared to 39 per cent of Westerners.

Similarly, Arabs (excluding Emiratis) and Asians are also split on whether they think UAE residents have a community spirit. Emiratis and Westerners on the other hand are on opposite ends of the spectrum with the former saying they do and the latter saying they don’t.

That is one of the main conclusions from the latest Gulf News survey undertaken by YouGov-Siraj where by 1,191 people answered questions on family, growing old, and challenges to family time. (Of the total surveyed, 119 were Emiratis, 147 other Arabs, 168 Westerners, 669 Asians, and 88 others).

We asked our respondents who each of them considers to part of their own family. Across all nationalities, ‘parents’, ‘brothers and sisters’ and ‘spouse’ top the family member ladder. ‘Children’ and ‘grandparents’ are not far behind in the family members consideration set. Interestingly, despite no blood connection, 25 per cent believe friends are family and 16 per cent find employed household staff to also be part of family.

Who do they live with? More than half of our respondents say they currently live in the UAE with their spouse- this is clearly observed among Westerners and Asians (75 per cent and 63 per cent respectively) as compared to Arabs (42 per cent). Moreover, both Arabs and Asians seem to have more of their parents living with them in the UAE compared to Westerners. Arab scores are largely observed among Emiratis (6 in 10 Emiratis vs. nearly 3 in 10 other Arabs).

On the other hand, almost 1 in 10 lives alone in the UAE. This is primarily because their families live in different countries (numbers being highest amongst Western and Asian respondents). Some respondents simply say that they “prefer to live alone” (with 2 in 10 Emiratis saying so).

There is unanimity amongst our respondents when it comes to caring for their elderly parents. 95 percent said they would be supportive towards helping their parents as they grow older and become dependent upon others for help. What options would they seek in such a scenario? Nearly 6 out of 10 say they would nurse them at home themselves. But a closer look reveals that while 60 per cent of Arabs and 67 per cent of Asians feel this way, only 34 per cent of Westerners feel the same.

Instead, 40 per cent of Westerners say they would employ a nurse at home. Sending elderly parents to a nursing home proved the least popular option for our respondents.

Through this survey, we got an insight as to why respondents would consider helping their elderly parents. The overwhelming majority say they would do it out of love for their parents. 7 in 10 say it is because they feel a sense of gratitude to be repaid to parents and many feel it is expected of them to be with their family.

Our respondents are equally supportive of their spouse’s parents with 92 per cent saying they would care for them as the need arrives. Across all nationalities, Asians tend to be more supportive in assisting spouse’s elderly parents (95 per cent of Asians vs. 89 per cent for Arabs and 85 per cent for Westerners). Half of the respondents claimed they would be willing to nurse their spouse’s parents at home by themselves however, among Westerners, scores are directionally low.

As of now, over two thirds of our respondents prefer to live with their families than to live by themselves. This is especially the case with Asian respondents (82 per cent). What’s more, respondents aged 30-49 are more likely to want to live with family than younger respondents (aged below 30).

We asked UAE residents to peer into the future when they themselves become elderly; what then would they prefer their living arrangements to be? 48 per cent say they would like to with their own grown up children – assuming they had any. It should be noted that of the total, only 23 per cent of Westerners feel this way compared to 52 per cent of Arabs and 53 per cent of Asians..

Another option is to live in a nursing home or a retirement village. While it has proved unpopular amongst the Arab and Asian respondents, 27 per cent of Westerners choose it as their preferred option.

An extended family has its benefits. The majority of our respondents feel having them around is advantageous namely for emotional support. They also improve family bonding and help maintain a sense of belonging. But by the same token, having an extended family means a lack of privacy and lack of personal space for the majority of our respondents- irrelevant of their demographic profile.

Working life affecting private life
Our respondents are split on whether their or their partner’s working life has impacted their private life. 39 per cent said it has impacted their private life a lot, while 30 per cent say the impact has been small. A closer look at the survey shows that more females claim their partner’s working life has greatly impacted their private life. On the other hand, 16 per cent find there has been no impact whatsoever.

Fifty six per cent have at least 1 child in their household. They say that on average, they spend 3 hours and 50 minutes with their children on a typical work day. Emirati parents tend to spend fewer hours with their children as compared to other Arabs.

On average, it is likely that parents waste 5 hours and 4 minutes without being with their children due to work related issues outside of regular office hours or other commitments. Such work related issues include traffic congestion, which is by far, the most recalled factor that makes people stay away from being with their families (this is clearly observed among Asians). Shopping, socialising, and going to the gym are also reasons that feature lightly on the survey.

Importance of family values

UAE residents believe that family values are important in today’s world. Asians in particular have the highest scores when it comes to this conviction. We asked our respondents if they thought their family values are being eroded here in the UAE. Close to two thirds said yes. This opinion was particularly high amongst other Arabs (73 per cent). The three main reasons behind this are: lack of time for families to be together, economic pressure, and lack of parental guidance.

Other explanations including lack of proper role models and having too many temptations also feature prominently on the survey.

So then, how do our respondents generally feel about people in the UAE? Are they courteous and do they have a community spirit? Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed said yes but there is a difference of opinion amongst the various nationalities; 71 per cent of Emiratis compared to 39 per cent of Westerners.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s