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Thoughts and Reflections on the International Day of Families

What it’s all about!

One of the things that make Uganda truly unique is its people and their deep-rooted sense of community. Family is at the heart of Ugandan society, and the family structure is shaped by a complex web of cultural, social, and economic factors. Understanding the intricacies of family life in Uganda is essential to understanding the country’s culture and way of life. In this piece, we will explore the role of families in Ugandan society, the different types of families that exist, and the challenges that families face in a rapidly changing world. By delving into the complexities of family life in Uganda, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s people and their traditions. In Uganda, family is the cornerstone of society and family ties are strong and deeply rooted in tradition.

There are many different kinds of families in Uganda such as child headed families, matrilineal families and patrilineal families. But the two main types of families in Uganda are the nuclear kind of family and the extended kind of family.

The nuclear family, which consists of only the parents and their biological children, is the commonest in the country taking up a 60% stake of most families in the country. There are many reasons for this such as the high standards of living today which makes it rather difficult for a single person to take care of a whole lot of other people. There are many disagreements between family members brought about contrasting views most especially between elders and the children or even parents and grandparents. This makes people move and seek for healthier environments for their children and so forth. Collectively, its relatively easier to manage a household as a nuclear family as compared to an extended one.

An extended family consists of the parents, their biological children, grandparents, cousins, uncles and other related people. It’s mostly common in the rural areas of the country. Extended families are quite traditional for this modern day and age. They are mostly common in rural areas since family members come together to give support to one another. It is found that people live longer and healthier lives in extended families and for fact, this might be true given the amount of regulations that govern some of the families. Besides this, these families could have some benefits but also some serious problems.

A typical family in Uganda today comprises of four major components; the parents that is mother and father, the children of the parents and the elderly relatives that is the grandparents. Each of these people have a major role they uphold in the family.

The fathers who are considered the head of the households look after the family’s wellbeing and ensure its survival. They provide (alongside with the mothers) and ensure the continuity of the bloodline of the family through matrimonial acts.

The mothers are responsible for managing the household and also childcare which not all fathers are tender with. They are much more involved in the children’s upbringing and bearing. Naturally, mothers have childrearing capabilities that hold a great significance in the family.

The children are like the future flag bearers of the family. Not only are they the fruit of the parents’ love, but they too continue the family’s lineage. They help around the house and help their parents with farm work and other tasks that may need their assistance.

The elderly relatives (mainly common in extended families) are important in discipline and child upbringing.

The family holds a number of roles in society. In general, the family is responsible for the upbringing of children. It’s supposed to transform them into responsible citizens of the country who know what’s right and what’s wrong. The family is responsible for the education of the children. This is not only a responsibility but also a right for the children.

The fathers in the family are primary leaders and providers. They make decisions that not only influence their family but entire homesteads at large. They make majority of the decisions with the women under their leadership. When families work together for the betterment of community, it produces results that positively affect the people and other families in the community.

Women are the keepers of the home and they instill discipline in the young ones.

A family is clearly a safe space one could embalm themselves in. But in Uganda and other parts of the world, there is a handful of challenges families face.

Some of these families have poor relations within them, many of which are brought about by the generation gap between elders and children. It has challenged the parenting skills of parents and even caregivers. This has made many children escape from their homes and become street children which also creates further problems.

There are high rates of separation and divorce which bring about child headed families. This is widely common in urban areas of the country.

Poverty and famine has infected a number of extended families in the rural areas of the country. The large number of family members to be taken care of outweighs the number of necessary resources needed for them to live comfortably given that one person is the bread winner of the family. This also slowly infects urban families through unemployment which is on the rise and causes difficult living conditions for the families.

There are many other challenges faced by these families such as diseases for example HIV/AIDS, sickle cells, cancer…etc.; domestic violence (commonest in rural areas), teenage pregnancies which cause school drop outs and maternal deaths, permissiveness in adolescent teenagers, to mention but a few.

The International Day of Families is celebrated every year on May 15th to promote awareness of the importance of families and to encourage the adoption of policies and programs that support families. Families are the building blocks of society, and they play a critical role in shaping the lives of individuals and communities.

The celebration provides an opportunity to reflect on the many ways in which families contribute to society and to consider the challenges that families face in a rapidly changing world.   

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