35. What is the role
of the family in Arab culture?
The variety of family types among Arab Americans is vast, and influenced by
the same factors mentioned in the answer to Question 33. Generally, family
is more important than the individual and more influential than nationality.
People draw much of their identity from their role in the family.
Historically, this has fostered immigration in which members of an extended
family or clan help one another immigrate.
36. Do Arab Americans
maintain ties with their home countries?
Many do. They are very proud of their home countries and may maintain
regular contact with relatives or friends there, as many Americans do. Arab
Americans will sometimes joke with one another over which of their home
countries is the best, but it is perfectly consistent to have loyalties both
to their place of origin and their country of citizenship.
37. What are gender
roles like for Arab Americans?
These vary tremendously. Some of the variables are country of origin,
whether the family came from a rural or urban area and how long the person's
family has been in the United States. It is more accurate to ask the subject
of the story about his or her own experience than to apply a stereotype.
38. Do Arab Americans
have large families?
Arab-American families are, on average, larger than non-Arab-American
families and smaller than families in Arab countries. Traditionally, more
children meant more pride and economic contributors for the family. The cost
of having large families in the United States, however, and adaptation to
American customs seem to encourage smaller families.
39. What kind of
relationship does cousin mean to Arab Americans?
The same as for other Americans, though Arabs may differentiate between
maternal and paternal cousins when they refer to them.
40. Do generations of
Arab Americans live together?
Sometimes, especially with people who have more recently arrived in the
United States, but this can be true of non-Arabs as well and is not a
distinguishing characteristic of Arab Americans.
41. Do Arab Americans
typically get married at a younger age than non-Arabs?
Yes, though this is changing. As women follow careers, they are not expected
to marry so young. Arab women might also marry older men who can provide
greater financial security.
42. Are marriages
This is very rare, except among the most recent immigrants. Remember that
most Arab Americans were born here, and that they frequently marry people
from other cultures. In the case where a marriage is arranged, a parent may
recommend someone from another family or from the country of origin, but the
child is not forced to marry that person. More typically, couples meet and
ask their families' approval before getting engaged, or make their own
decision and then tell their families.
43. Do Arab Americans
prefer to marry each other?
As with many people, in-group marriage may be encouraged as a way to
preserve heritage, but Arabs and non-Arabs frequently marry one other.
Religious differences among Arab Americans, in fact, may make it more
desirable to marry a non-Arab of similar religious background than an Arab
of a different religion.
44. Are there any
Arab conventions for naming children?
Muslims often name their children after prophets in the Quran. ShiÕa
Muslims sometimes use Ali as a middle name. Christians often name their
children after people in the Bible. Although names can give an indication of
a person's religion, don't assume. Arab tradition may call for the father's
name to be the middle name of sons and daughters.
45. What does the
title Umm or Abu mean as part of a name?
It is a common way of calling someone using their oldest son's name. Umm
means mother of. Abu means father of. "Umm Muhammad" is
"mother of Muhammad." This is what friends might call her, as a
sign of respect.
46. What do Arabs
mean when they refer to someone as Auntie?
It is a sign of respect, not necessarily family relationship. An Arab
American might call any older Arab male or female "auntie" or
"uncle." Many Arab Americans do not use these terms at all.
Journalists can show respect by using courtesy titles.
Contents :: Overview
:: Origins :: Language
:: Demographics :: Family :: Customs
Religion :: Politics
:: Terminology :: Stereotypes
:: Coverage :: Resources
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