Most readers agreed that the family unit is a significant part of society. However, most agreed that from a conservative patriarchal family system to relationships that are based more on friendship, the equations are changing. A few try and hold on to at least some part of tradition, but most are forced to adapt to the pace of today's life. We present their views in a debate.

The parent-child relationship is becoming more informal.

The parent-child relationship is perfect until the child reaches 12 to 13 years. After that the he/she demands more freedom and some parents cope up by becoming friends, while others who would not want their children to change try to hold on to them. This causes friction in the family. My advice is that as we parents should adapt, as change is inevitable. Grandparents on the other hand are more approachable; hence teenagers bond with them instantly.
Melwyn Pereira

Yes, this new generation has lost its respect for the elders. There is no longer a bond between family members. Not as strong as it used to be in the past anyway. Relationships between parents and children are becoming informal. However, I think in certain families, the bond becomes stronger. In the end, the way a person was raised dictates the shape of their future interaction.
Christopher John

The parent-child relationship is very different nowadays. The parents should be flexible in dealing with their children otherwise parents will always be angry with their kids. Openness in communication will bring about the sharing of ideas and thoughts; what the children want and what the parents want should meet at a common ground to maintain a harmonious relation. These problems have become universal so this is everybody's concern.
Susan Ebido

Yes, relations have become more informal. In the past, the father and the mother were respected. They had reverence. Also, children used to abide by the traditions. Nowadays, in times of globalisation and mass media, the children are exposed to various cultures, beliefs and ideas. Every child now wants to argue and ask why. I think though that it is the parents' responsibility to allow the children some freedom and provide them with advice at the same time.
Razan Mahmoud

The fast pace of today's life impacting communication between family members.

Yes, everyone is busy doing his or her own thing. There is even no time for family members to gather around or sit together — even around the television. There are so many distractions in life. The children have their own life, the wife is also busy and the husband is out at work. At the end of the day, everyone is tired. In the past our social life was simpler and family relations were stronger.
Adel Al Ghussain

Yes, families don't get together like they used, not for lunch, dinner or on special occasions. The children are busy; the parents are also leading a hectic life, especially if they work. I can't say there is a gap between the parents and the children because I think parents know what is happening with us, but I think the gap is between us and grandparents.
Ali Ollek

Parents' relationship with their child should be more of friendship than a dictatorship. If so, they feel at ease and will tell you what is on their mind, then you will be able to guide them accordingly. It is not a fast-paced life but a pressured lifestyle that makes time for children limited and often parents are consumed with worry. Grandparents still hold an important place in the lives of children.

It is not the fault of children but due to parents' approach. If our children are having problems in communicating openly and honestly with us, I hope and pray that parents should understand and handle this situation as soon as possible. If we don't, we will never be able to prevent our kids from losing their footing.

Grandparents hold the same significance to the family as in the past.

Not these days, because the nuclear family is more relevant nowadays. Look at the Asian families here. They have left their extended families back home to come here, work and have children. It is hard to bring their grandparents along, either because of old age or visa issues. So the connection in the end is not there.
Vahista Duadiwalla

I think the immediate family has become more significant nowadays. Work has become so important that people move for their jobs. I think the element of family relations is lacking.
Amanda Dunn

Each year, I fly my grandson out of Canada for a six-week summer vacation. Michael has seen London, Cyprus and now Dubai. At eleven years old, he is huge. He greets me on arrival with: “I know Grandma, diet time.'' Time flies. But it's not all play. Our home is very political — mornings begin with the newspaper followed by hearty debate. Evenings, we follow the news. We treat Michael as an adult.
B. Cummings

Yes, they still hold the same significance. In the past, the grandparents used to live with the family in the same house. Now it is different. However, there are still the visits and the calls. I think in the end it is the father and the mother's responsibility to make sure that the grandparents are included in their children's lives. Some fathers or mothers don't care, so in the end why should the children?
Lina Mahmoud Hamad
Ras Al Khaimah

Parental guilt is creating a generation of ‘monster children'.

As long as parents know how to lead their lives in a balanced manner, know how to be a role model and set right examples for the children to see, know how to be strong and not lose hope amidst difficulties and trials in life and know how to inspire, motivate and challenge their young ones for the future ahead, I don't think there would be any problem. I can say that I have the best kind of relationship with both of my parents. I draw strength and inspiration from them.
A. Gonzales

As long as you remain friends with your child, give them the necessary quality time; you will command respect and admiration as parents. Treat your children as individuals, respect their ideas and conduct meaningful dialogues with them in a subtle way. It will go a long way in making a relationship fruitful. Times have changed and if parents don't adapt to the changing demands of a parent-child relationship, we are ultimately the losers.
Shane Ryan

I can say from my personal experience that as a working mother, the guilt is definitely there. I am supposed to spend more time with my children, help them with their studies and be there for them. However, most of the time I am trying to do this on the phone from work, while they are left with the housekeeper. However, if my children needed anything and out of guilt I was doing it for them, I make sure that they don't know it.
Fatin Hamad

Yes, nowadays everyone is worried about the job, the competition and the cost of living. They need to make more money, so they don't have time for their children. There are some who do of course, but the majority are busy. This affects the children and how they turn out to be.
Viola Paculan