I've been giving this concept some thought lately. This is partly due to comparing Mexican culture to American culture. One thing I've noticed is how Mexican culture is more family and community oriented, while America tends to breed an independent streak. Look at how we became a nation. It is in our blood.
Hmm, I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts well. Sorry if this comes out a little choppy.
It is interesting to look at how this cultural difference plays out generationally. For example, in America, we encourage and expect young adults to move out on their own. It is often considered a sign of maturity, or a way to attain maturity, if someone in the 18 - mid 20's range moves out of their parents' place into an apartment. In Mexico, on the other hand, it is extremely rare for a single adult to move out of their parents' home, and oftentimes newlyweds continue to live at home for the first couple of years. There's no negative connotation for doing so, but rather is expected.
At the other end of the spectrum, in Mexico it is expected and understood that the elderly will be cared for by family. Widows are supported by their children. I've never seen or heard yet of nursing homes or adult care facilities there. In contrast, many Americans struggle with the issue of how to care for the elderly. Either the elderly person is determined to maintain their accustomed lifestyle for as long as possible, or their children look for ways to provide them care without it having too big an impact on their own lives.
I've been giving thought to both ends of the spectrum in my own life and family lately. My remaining grandmother is 94 years old, and has stubbornly lived alone up to this point. She can hardly entertain the notion of leaving her home, has blocked almost every attempt we've made to offer help (for example, canceling Meals on Wheels within the first 48 hours). She's been in the hospital since Saturday; there's a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. Where walking was slow and difficult for her before, it's dangerous now. We can't send her home to live alone again, but we are equally sure she will protest any other option.
I've been thinking about the changes in my own life recently. A year ago (well, up to a few months ago), I lived alone. I was an elementary school principal. I was very action oriented, a problem solver, decision maker. Now? I live with my family. I am at the bottom of the totem pole at my workplace. I'm soon to move to another country, but the timing of said move is out of my hands. Interestingly, realizing the changes in my position have made me more trusting of my fiance.
I don't know how well all that makes sense to anyone else, but I needed to write it out. I'm curious to understand the cultural difference better as time goes on, and the impact those differences have in people's everyday lives. And I am glad I know the One who is in control of it all.