Family Challenges in Modern Times

Family Challenges in Modern TimesFamily Challenges in Modern Times

The Iranian family today, like most families in modern societies the world over, face a variety of unique challenges.

Small living spaces, financial constraints and marital problems are some of the threats facing the family institution in present times. More than 80% of Iranian couples “are also emotionally divorced while still living together,” maintains Mostafa Eghlima, head of the Iran Association of Social Workers.  

Sparse living conditions can cause psychological problems and lack of adequate space can lead to conflict as family members jostle for room in small living spaces. Adequate area per person is a primary need for a healthy family and healthy relationships, Eghlima said.

The average area of residential apartments in northern parts of the capital Tehran (districts 1 and 3) is between 130-175 sq m while the same is between 50-70 sq m in southern parts and 100 sq meters in western and eastern parts. Economic factors, from macro to micro, a family’s financial capacity, social and cultural characteristics and environmental conditions can all affect the floor area per capita. In the south, where low income families live, the floor area per person is less than 30 sq m.

The average Tehrani household comprises 4.3 persons, Fararu website reported.

Eghlima pointed to the impact of economic problems on family relationships and said, “A man who is the sole breadwinner in the family and earns less, has to work more and thus spends less quality time with his family.”

 Fading Bonds

He also said the “current critical situation” of Iranian families shouldn’t be blamed on media publicity. “We cannot say mass media are responsible for the ‘fading bonds’ among family members since other criteria including economic, social, marital and cultural have led to the weakening of the family structure.”

Families spend less quality time together, since situations where both parents are contributing financially to make ends meet, or in some cases busy furthering their respective careers, have caused undue burden on the family institution. The stress of dealing with modern lifestyle is also associated with high rates of self-medication (to cope with the stress), leading to adverse health consequences. In such a situation, family communication turns hostile and defensive and breakdown of the relationship is imminent.

Children are the worst sufferers in such a situation, which also sets a bad precedent. Mental health professionals are reporting higher rates of depression and anxiety in children. Childhood depression is a recognized disorder, as is childhood anxiety. Children feel isolated and alone due to a lack of real connection with those closest to them.

Effective communication is sadly not a skill taught at most schools and colleges.

Family, religion and politics have always been the pillars of the Iranian social institution for centuries. But major threats of modern times such as the increasing divorce rates, delayed age of marriage, marital distress and intergenerational challenges, are becoming a norm, say some social experts.