Benefits of Extended Family
In today's world, it is often difficult for families beyond the nuclear family unit to remain together. Due to distance and time constraints, many families gather only on annual holidays, graduations, or weddings. Some relatives may practically be strangers to one another. This leaves individuals floating without an anchor, without a sense of community.
Support and Assistance
When a larger network of relatives is close with each other physically and emotionally, any individual member can count on the entire family for support. Grandma can watch the children, uncles can help with household chores, aunts share cooking responsibilities, and every adult contributes to the larger family unit. If one member needs help, the others pitch in. If someone is ill, someone else is there to nurse her back to health. Such was the lifestyle of countless generations, but it has been lost to many people in modern society.
Muhammad once had a non-Muslim neighbor who would dump trash on his doorstep every single day. One morning, Muhammad left his home to find that there was no trash there. Concerned, he visited the woman's home to inquire about her health. Sure enough, she was very ill. She was moved by his concern and later embraced Islam.
Companionship for Young and Old
When there are more adults working together in the family, the children have more role models and advisers. The children can hear their grandparents' childhood stories and feel connected to the history of the family. In return, the elders feel needed and loved. Because these relationships are often lacking in today's society, some people try to create them artificially. Schools and retirement homes have begun partnering up in some areas, bringing the young and the old together for companionship and education.