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Family in Afghan Society Posted by on Dec 5, 2012 in culture

In Afghan society, family is the single most important institution and support system. In Every family the father or the oldest capable male is the head of the family. The head of the family and the male members of the family are responsible for providing for the family and taking care of the family. Almost all the things that happen outside the house needs to be taken care of by the male members of the family and is considered their responsibility. However, one can notice quite a lot of families that welcome the help of the female members of the family in regards to the tasks outside the house. In villages women help with farming and taking care of the livestock, and in the cities women have jobs, working for the government or non-government organizations.

Even though a male member is the head of the family he could be very symbolic and the family is run by the wife or the mother. Mother in the family is respected tremendously and you will even see bumper stickers that say in Dari Janat zair e paai modar ast “paradise is under the feet of mother”.  And when good things happen to people they would say “it is because of the prayers of my parents”

Afghan families are usually big, ranging usually from 5-10 members in the nuclear family. But it is not surprising to find parents who have 10 kids. Parents usually prefer to have a male child; and unfortunately girls are not wanted as much, so much so that some ignorant families will blame the woman for giving birth to too many girls. The members of the family all live in the same house or compound regardless of their age and gender. Unlike the western world where it is considered a good thing to move out of your parents’ house once you are an adult; in Afghanistan, it is looked down upon to leave your parents and move out.

When the girls get married, they move to their husbands’ houses.  When a son gets married he brings his bride to his house to live with his family which consist of his nuclear family and most of the time his extended family, like cousins and uncles. People are slowly starting to live in smaller families but you will see a lot of families living together ranging up 30 people in one compound which includes the nuclear and the extended family.

Family is the biggest support system in the Afghan society. One’s success, failure, shame, and honor are shared by the entire family including the extended family, and in some case the entire clan. So if one brings shame to himself or herself he or she is bringing shame to the entire family and the clan, and the same goes with the success and honor.

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About the Author:Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.