I don’t think many people think of family structures and how different they are from country to country. While living in Poland, I realized it and experienced it. First of all, I have to say that I loved the traditional family structure in Poland because it is very similar to mine. This absolutely made me feel like I was “home.” However, my family structure is not the typical American family structure - the American family structure is a bit more chaotic and non-conventional.
In Poland - Something that warms my heart is how close family members are to each other in Poland. This may be due to their affiliation with the Catholic church. Whatever the reason, a typical Polish family likes to get together every Sunday for family lunches/dinners and sit by the table for hours on end. Not only that, but children tend to be close their parents and siblings. Later in life, those children become adults and they have a sense of obligation to take care of their parents once they are unable to take care of themselves. I admire and applaud to this because it is no longer common in the US anymore. There is a tendency with Polish families to have an open dialogue at all times, so all family members know what is going on with each other (lots of opinions are flying from different directions). And I assume, this leads to the feeling of keeping up with the Jonases, which is obviously not always an advantage. I am not sure if my feelings are correct, but perhaps this feeling of “keeping up withe Jonases” results in couples staying in marriages because divorce is unacceptable or looked down upon? Whatever it may be, I believe open dialogue is great but there needs to be some boundaries (easier said that done).
Lastly, I want to talk about one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from friends - Polish mother-in-laws. I’ve heard that they need to know everything and they also love giving their opinion on any and every subject. Honestly, I thought this was a universal problem, but perhaps the Polish mother-in-laws take it to a different level? What do you think?
In the States - The US is considered a melting pot, so because of that, there isn’t a typical family structure. You can find families that are similar to the Polish families or completely different. However, I believe most families in the US are a bit more complicated. The reason for this “complication” could be reasoned by the fact that the US is such a big country that families are inclined to move to different states in search for a better job, life, or new opportunities. As a result, most of them drift apart from one another. Another culprit why families here are more complex is because of society norms and/or requirements that are basically forced onto us. What I mean is that families absolutely need to work full-time in order to have a family, the work culture is also completely different than in Europe, so families don’t take long and well-deserved vacations. This all results in families having certain types complications, miscommunications, or simply getting a divorce.
Many of my friend’s parents are divorced so they have to share Christmas’ with one parents one year and the next with the other. Honestly, I can’t imagine something like that because my family is amazing and we all get together (still). But who knows what will happen in the future.
What I am trying to say is that there is no good or bad family structure. There are different ones that we don’t even see from day to day. We should learn to appreciate and accept them, even if they are completely different than ours. I think both, the Polish and American society have difficulties in keeping up with their own families and that is why we should be a bit a more understanding of people’s quirks or personality traits (again, easier said than done!).