A very long time ago, when we were living in the village, we lived together in big family units –at least with 2 or 3 generations. We shared everything. We did not even have our demarcation of space or room. But we were very happy and satisfied. We knew our neighbours so well that they also seemed to be part of the big family! This way of life is part of our Asian culture!

We observe how our parents treat and respect theirs. They taught us by showing us through their examples. We also learnt to share, interact, value relationships, etc. All these were assimilated. Somehow, we unconsciously absorbed their teaching. Celebrations were such grand affairs. Every one helped willingly without being asked! Those were the days……..

When we started to move into HDB flats, our family units were divided. Everything was and still is held within the 4 walls. Our neighbours were strangers. Sometimes, we didn’t know their names! There was no integration and bonding at all!

Nowadays, with very small family units ( 1 or 2-child family), there is not much opportunities for interaction with our peers! Children are taught from a very your age the selfishness of possession — My room, my toys….every thing..mine! Sharing? No! Caring? No! Always “I want, I want” or “It’s mine, it’s mine!”

To make the situation worse, when both the parents are busily earning a living, the upbringing of the child/children is left to the maids! Problematic children are in the making . No grandma or grandpa to help them. Even the yuppies nowadays believe that grandparents do not know how to bring up the newer generations. They believe that the modern era needs modern methods — not out-of-date methods. Is it true? I’ll leave it at that!

This is the price we pay for progress – the breaking up of big family units! History has shown the importance of family units – the good stories as well as the bad ones. Perhaps this is one of the many facts of life which is beyond our control. Surely, we can improve the situation, can’t we?

Today, let us pause for a moment to reflect on this important topic – the breaking up of big family units. To what extent does it affect us? How can we overcome this problem? After we have reflected on the issues, I hope we can help to reduce some of the ill effects on our lives and loved ones.

The poem below depicts one of the many scenarios! Perhaps you already know the ending of the story.



Nesting place,

Little nestlings stay;

Soon learning to fly,

Each finds his own mate;

Builds his own nest and -,

Leaving aged parents to fate;

Behind each empty nest,

Many stories untold.

Beyond words,