America and Lebanon: Family Bonds?

During two weeks of being in Ohio University, I was able to notice that there aren’t as much family bonds as one would expect. Maybe it is because I was comparing it to Lebanese people, and Lebanon as other Arab countries is known for its family bonds and strong relationships.

Perhaps the reason is the moving out part. As it is knows, when an American reaches the age of 18, he/she moves out of their parent’s home, and live independently. They have a separate life at that point, concentrating on college, work, and friends. They tend to be pulled away from emotions towards their families.

During our stay at Ohio, Dr.Greg Emery explained to us that the reason for such a thing to be very common is that parents want their kids to gain their independence. They want them to rely on themselves and be responsible enough to be able to pull through in their lives alone.

The huge difference between Americans and Lebanese, is that a Lebanese students stays with his parents at most times even when he is at college level, and the only time he moves out is at marriage. Other reason for a Lebanese student to move out is in pursue of education. The university he wishes to attend might be far from his parent’s home and for that he decides to live in a dorm. Yet there is constant communication between him and his parents, and he is expected to visit them on every weekend or holiday. They are also expected to visit him very often.

The thing is not that Lebanese parents don’t want their children to be independent and learn responsibility; it is only because emotional bonds in this country and many of the surrounding countries are much greater. A Lebanese mother would feel her son/daughter are being pulled away if they move out, whereas a typical American mother would encourage her child to leave the house and move on.

The other difference that is present as well is university tuition. A lot of Lebanese students have a job, but most of them have their parents pay for their university fees. They might contribute a little, but some rely completely on their parents for college tuition. However, in America, it is least common to meet a student that his/her parents pay for their college. It is mostly common that a student asks for a loan, pays for college, and spend the few upcoming years paying off the loan from the part-time job he has.

As I previously mentioned, Lebanese people are at a lot of times carried away by their emotions, and cannot bail out on their children. They feel responsible for the child even during college. And the time that a person gets her real independence is when he/she gets married.

7 thoughts on “America and Lebanon: Family Bonds?

  1. Well Farah i had an interesting conversation over this issue with Greg and he told me something very important, he said we ask our children to leave the house at 18 to allow them to face life and its hardships because we will not always be their for them. I guess that is an expression of love isn’t it?

  2. Dr. as you said, it is an expression of love, but i don’t think at age 18 teenagers can handle the responsibility, they are not mature yet.

  3. It depends. It expression of love to teach you child how to handle life, but i dont think that irs fair to push him away and not help him at all.

  4. Great post Farah! I agree with Aya! For me, i was able to live alone in another country but with the support of my family. I don’t believe it is a right thing to completely leave your children at the age of 18 and make them handle everything alone.

  5. I was pleased to see this post because it was a contradiction I picked up on during your visit to the United States. I must say however that there are many situations that resemble that of the Lebanon tradition that children stay with their parents until marriage, or at least until they have landed their first job. I have friends that still live at home during their college years, but with the difference being the purpose. You have discussed that parents can’t break the emotional bond and show their love through their support and assistance. Rather, what tends to be the purpose of many Americans living with their parents is a financial burden that they are trying to avoid. I can see how the discrepancy may come across as harsh and less nurturing, but I can assure you that this traditional move still has support and love bonded between family members. As a personal statement, I know that even though I live four hours away from my family, we are still as close as we were when all of my siblings and I lived under the same roof. This obviously is not the same for all students and families, but there are a great amount that find ways to express their love over distances.

  6. While I will admit that in many cases, family relationships may not seem as strong in America, I generally think this is a misconception. I know many families where the expectation, atleast for their daughters, is to stay in their parents home until they are married or well established. I find that even in the case of the son or daughter moving out at 18, parents tend to keep a protective hand on them, providing them with money when they cannot handle things alone, calling them regularly, and even allowing them to return home if they fall on hard times. It is usually like a training experience. The only times I have known this to not be the case is when the family is at odds with each other.

    When I moved to the dorms, my parents were sad but also excited because they knew it was what was best for me. They called me constantly and we visited on weekends. I would return home for all of my breaks. When I finally moved out, they were heartbroken and even tried to stop me. Many of my friends still live with their parents when they are not in school and plan to move back in after they graduate. Many of the students who do not return to their parents are either getting married or have a good job opportunity.

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