Though we don’t acknowledge it every day but Family, be it joint or nuclear, is the greatest gift bestowed upon us; for the love , the care and the comfort the family provides can’t be rendered by someone else. There was a time when parents, grandparents, kids, uncle, aunts, cousins lived happily under one roof, forming a single unit, also known as joint family. Staying with so many people seemed like a never-ending celebration and the happiest among the lot would be kids since they were the most pampered of all. With time though, these single units slowly started to migrate to carve their own niche , thus giving rise to nuclear families. In a nuclear set-up , every member of the family operate independently , including kids as not many individuals are involved in the parenting process.
I was born and brought up in a nuclear family and had friends who stayed in joint family. I always thought these friends are leading a way too eventful life than me: they used to while away time with cousins, their house turned into a grand spectacle on marriages and festivals , and there would always be a member of family at home to greet them with scrumptious food even if their parents were not at home; the perks were endless.
Then one day I was revealed the perils of the joint family when one of my friends mother came home and I sort of eavesdropped their conversation; aunty was complaining about the problems of staying in a joint family; how the family and the extended family is ubiquitous all the time , relatives drop unannounced denying her kids of their private space. Also no one restricts her kids from watching television and eating chocolates while she is at work and so on.. While as a mother she might have a point but I , on the other hand continued to envy my friend who enjoyed such pleasures of life staying in a joint family.
After marriage , I had a nuclear family. We made our humble abode on our terms and in my heart of hearts I was thankful that I am master of my world since there’s no interference from anybody. But as they say it is in dire need only that you remember your loved ones, I too realised the importance of joint family only when I needed it the most. At that time I was pregnant with my second child but due to some complications, I was mostly bed-ridden and my husband, being a workaholic, was of little help. My elder one, all of five years would manage to get ready for school – taking bath, getting dressed, wearing socks /shoes, packing her bag; all by herself. There were days when I would not be able to cook something healthy, instead gave my daughter some junk to eat once she is back from school. Neighbourhood friends were the only company she had with whom she spent some time.
Living abroad, though I longed for our immediate family members, surprisingly my daughter never felt the need of company at home; in fact the whole situation made her quite an independent and complain-free kid since the beginning.
For her the family begins and end with nuclear family, a unit which now she is used to and which I too find nurturing enough for the growth of my kids. Though we do visit our extended families , but the trips are short and sweet , an arrangement which works quite well for us.
Of course, the debate on the nuclear family versus joint family has been an ongoing thing with respect to child rearing but as someone has rightly said “There is so much grey to every story- nothing is so black or white; each family set up –joint or nuclear has its own merits and demerits and one can’t really say for sure which is best for your kids without going through all its pros and cons.
1. The biggest boon of this set-up is that it makes a child self-reliant from an early stage of childhood. Kids living in nuclear families sees their parents carrying out their set of duties diligently, a quality which rubs off on them early in life only to remain with them throughout. Today, my elder one is complimented time and again from the family and friends on her matured behaviour and the way she conducts herself
2. A child living in nuclear family is not bombarded with advice from various people of a big family, a trait which is prevalent among the “worldly-wise” elders. Modern parenting is different from what it used to be. Today parents are more of a friend and guide so they don’t impose their judgment on their young ones. When the kids remain confusion-free from unsolicited advices they become independent in their choice –making also.
1. The biggest disadvantage is the kids are deprived of love, affection and care of their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins when they live away from them. And we all know in this materialistic world, the more selfless love a kid receives, the better it is for his happiness.
2. If both parents are working, the child end up being in day-care or co-raised by a nanny. Such support system is professional in nature and won’t provide the same love as by the child’s own family.
1. For a child, a joint family can prove to be his first school where he learns various social skills- sharing, caring, flexibility, tolerance and co-operation. When he sees members of a one big family living happily together under the same roof, he carries the same attitude in right spirit throughout his life- be it school, playground, hostel, office or even in marriage.
2. Our society is based on certain values, tradition and culture which are passed from one generation to other. No one can deny the fact that in the company of elders, a child gets the first-hand knowledge of these moral principles.
3. For working parents it’s a blessing in disguise if the child is in company of his family. Not only the parents feel a sense of security but the child too is more comfortable as he receives genuine affection from people of his family rather than the attendants of a day-care.
1. Since every person in a joint family has their own opinion, a tussle between the conservative and the progressive views adversely impacts the mental balance of the young kids of an impressionable age.
Once on my way back home, I saw my friend’s daughter sitting in the park and sobbing quietly. Upon inquiry she told me since her parents are fighting with the grandparents over some money-related issue, she is scared to go back home. I felt pity and took her to my place before handing her over to her parents after sometime.. Not living amicably under same roof is a serious downside of a joint family which affects a child’s healthy state of mind.
2. Today’s style of parenting is very different from what it used to be in past and if the elders of the family keep meddling or give their unsolicited tips on parenting , it not only bring doubts in the minds of parents about their rearing abilities but the child too remains perplexed.
From the above given debate, one can say no family set-up has the right ingredients for a perfect household. But as I see it, irrespective of the type of family a child stays in, as long as there is love, understanding and proper communication among the members, it in itself becomes an ideal place for the young one to live happily ever after.