What an American Christian Learned Living in a Muslim Country Part 6: Family Matters.
In Moroccan culture, life doesn’t revolve around you. Moroccans are not only an integral part of their immediate family, but also the greater family or clan. The choices a person makes are a reflection of all those other people as well. As an American, I care about family, but I am also so independent - and often feel pride about that. While too much pressure from family may be a significant struggle in Morocco, I wonder if we, on the other hand, have given up too much for the sake of our independence. In reflecting on this a bit with an American friend, we both felt that to a large extent, in today's America, one honestly begins to feel that others don’t really need you, and maybe you don’t really need them. Though we may not admit it, we are often so very lonely, even with 600 virtual friends. In Morocco you are needed and you need your family, not just your friends. I wonder if many older people today feel that their input is unwanted or even believe that their thoughts on life are irrelevant to the younger generations.
If you are an unmarried Moroccan adult, it is actually very unusual to leave home and find a place of your own. (Why would you do that? How lonely!) In our culture, we might be considered a loser or unhealthy to stay living with your parents as an adult. But is being alone all it’s cracked up to be? Sure, it may be good. Familial relationships can certainly be tricky and some boundaries may be needed, but quality time with parents and grandparents can offer me insight that I would otherwise miss. Do I ever talk through big decisions with my "elders", or other wise people who have known and loved me for a long time? I think this is probably all too rare for many of us - myself included. I might tell them what's going on in my life or in the world around me, but I don't necessarily ask for their thoughts on it. These are people who may also see things from a bigger perspective, and from whom I might even hear hard things. Can we hear hard things? Do I have anyone in my life who would say them to me? If not, why not?