Why Arab Americans Look Forward to their Senior Years
By: Sarah Elbeshbishi/Arab America Contributing Writer
Arab Americans have close relationships with extended family and friends. Generosity and kindness are important aspects of Arab culture and that is carried throughout almost every aspect of life for them. That is especially applied to family and friends.
Family loyalty and maintenance of friendships are incredibly important to Arab Americans and it is important that they maintain them. As they get older, they are able to focus on their family and friends which allows them to host and meet up with them.
1. They host big gatherings
Just like family, hospitality is an important fact in Arab culture, which is also highly important to Arab Americans as well. Not only are Arab Americans hospitable to friends, but strangers as well. Generosity to people, strangers or not, is highly valued in Arab culture. They have more time for dinners and celebrations where everyone can come and spend time together.
They also tend to remain in their family home so that they can host everyone. It also becomes somewhat of a tradition because who doesn’t love going back to their family home? It also encourages later generations of family to learn about their heritage, traditions and old stories
2. They invest in a home in their home country
Many Arab Americans are unable to visit their family country, whether it is due to lack of time off, cost, or scheduling conflicts. But once their children are grown up and they have more free time that allows them to travel back, giving them a reason to have a home there.
It also gives their children and grandchildren a place to stay and visit extended family when they travel back too.
3. They teach their children the value of family
As mentioned before the family is incredibly important to the Arab culture. The family is usually put before anything else and the maintenance of strong familial ties is emphasized throughout life.
The idea that family should always come first and take precedence over friends and work is usually instilled in children early on. Once their children are grown, they can still expect their children to be there for them because of these values.
4. They are consulted in all matters for advice
Seniors are viewed as esteemed members of society in the Arab American culture, so they are usually consulted in many situations. They are the ones with the most experiences and are seen as wise ones, which is why people go to them for advice.
Though their opinions are not always listened to, it is a sign of respect that younger generations turn to them for help and advice.
5. They love to watch the grandchildren
With more time on their hands and in close vicinity with their kids, they can spend more time with their grandchildren. Especially when their grandchildren need to be watched, they get to be the impromptu babysitters for them.
Again, this ties in with the importance of family. Family watching family is better than hiring an acquaintance to babysit and allows the family to see each other more often.
6. They enjoy the pleasure of seeing their children have grown up and successful
Most everything Arab parents do is for their children. They want to see their child grown up and accomplishing whatever they set their minds to. They want to see their children grow up with the values instilled in them. That is also why they tend to want to live nearby their children.
While they can celebrate and cherish their children’s accomplishments when they are still under their roof, it is different from when their children leave the house and accomplish things on their own. Not only does it give them a sense of pride, but encouragement that they taught their children well and they will do well for themselves.
7. They take pride in being told they were right
This is the point in time where they are told they were right. Their kids are getting to the age where they are finding out that nearly everything their parents had said was true. This is also the time where they come back and tell their parents that they were right.
While watching their kids grow up to be the people they believed them to be, it’s also nice to be told that despite the arguments they were in fact right. Everyone loves to be right, even if it is decades later.
8. They are shown the utmost respect as they visit family and friends
Arab people in their senior years get seated the most comfortable chairs and at the head table. Their hosts prevent them from helping preparing or cleaning after a meal. They are listened to and praised as the most blessed ones. Arab American seniors get escorted to the house and also as they leave.