Reflecting Society Values
Children are the greatest assets of every human society and the future of a nation. Other than sharing the universal principle of love and care for children, every society has its peculiar set of circumstances and values to raise and teach their children. This depends largely on their culture, traditions, religion, social values and a score of other considerations. Pakistani society is no different.
Ours is a nation of 220 million people and has a very diverse cultural heritage. With an over 98% Muslim population (converted from Hinduism centuries ago), Pakistan has cultural borrowings from a variety of sources and some with strong religious influence. The society is held tight with strong family bonding and social affiliations. Divorce and single parenting are phenomenons here. Male children are generally preferred over female, although this is not true among the more educated members of the society. The literacy rate is not very high and social rights awareness and implementation are poor. All of this forms part of the cultural backdrop in which a Pakistani child is raised and taught.
The Basics Of Raising Children
While not all-encompassing, the following are some of the ways that the socio-cultural and religious heritages of Pakistan influence how we raise our children:
- Typical of an Asian society, most children are raised in a family setting where the teaching of basic social values is everybody’s business including grandparents to aunts and uncles.
- Basic social values are considered most important in pre-school years. These would include paying respect to elders and practicing religious rituals.
Schooling usually starts at the age of 5 years or later depending on the social class in which the child was born. Seventy percent of children are born to rural families and so educational facilities are at best just above unsatisfactory.
- A majority of children belong to the underprivileged class of this society among whom malnutrition, poor access to civic facilities and quality education are rampant. These children have to fight against all odds to reach a point of recognition in life.
- A typical household will have over four or more children. In these circumstances each child has to compete for limited resources from his/her parents. A male child would be generally more privileged in such an environment.
- Fathers hold a position of prominence and dominance in most households while mothers are emotional anchors for the children. Mothers are always the bridge between a child and his/her NOT SO ACCESSIBLE father.
- A Pakistani child does not suffer from social or behavioral attention deficiency disorders due to strong family bonding and strict parental control.
- Sexual exploitation is not as common due to strong social monitoring and observation.
- Teenage pregnancies are almost non-existent due to social restrictions on intermingling of the opposite sexes.
- Physical handling is not considered inappropriate. It may be for the fear of a beating or rough handling that it is unusual to see a public display of misbehavior by a child.
- An urban child would get better chances in life and education as compared to a rural child (though success stories are not uncommon for talented rural children) as the educational facilities and socio-economic factors would place him/her in better position.
- Owing to poverty and economic deprivation, many children are unable to attend or continue school. They end up working as low or no paid labourers in auto workshops and in the cottage industry. Most rural children, except for the few lucky ones, work alongside their parents .
- Early marriages (though prohibited by law) are still happening, however, increased negative media coverage is resulting in the reduction of these marriages.
- Malnutrition is common and there is no concept of balanced diet.
- Sports and recreational facilities are few and far between. This will result in a NOT SO HEALTHY future for Pakistan.
- Due to the strict social order and the parental preference of unquestioned obedience (a symbol of a ‘PROPER’ Pakistani child) the flight of imagination, creative thought process and power to reason is somewhat affected in our children.
- With the recent surge of violence and terrorist activity against Pakistani children (eg., on December 16, 2014, over 400 Pakistani school children were killed by Taliban terrorists in a school attack), our children are suffering huge emotional loss en masse.
The Last Word
Pakistan’s children are raised and taught in an environment of mixed blessing. At one end, he or she do not have the ‘fun’ that their equals enjoy in western societies. On the other hand, he or she does not have to face some of the emotional traumas that a western child might have to cope with such as broken homes or single parenting. Wherever in the world children are raised, what is true is that nobody gets a perfect deal.
Neelma Tashfeen was born and raised in Pakistan and is our main Contributor from that region of our world. She brings a different flavour to the banquet here and writes on many areas of women empowerment and societal issues in Pakistan. Neelma has shared with readers stories of the lives of women in her country. “A Peek Into The Daily Lives of 3 Pakistani Women” was Neelma’s first article here. She was one of the Contributors to our series on prostitution with her articles: “Prostitution in Pakistan: The Stories” and “Pakistan Taboo: Palace or Prison?” She can be contacted at email@example.com
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