Indian culture is known for its age-old traditions and beliefs in joint family system. With the rapid growth of the Indian economy, there have been considerable changes in the lifestyle of newer generations. Geographical relocations for work and better opportunities have forced people to break away from their families and live away from home. This brings a huge change in eating habits, style of living, perspectives, and communication patterns. Yet there is a constant yearning to go back to the old ways and get connected with the cultural roots.
The Indian Joint Family System
For centuries, the joint family system successfully prevailed and parents with their children and grandchildren lived under one roof. Everyone was treated as equals, and because no one had to travel to far off lands for work and money, the family could easily stay together. However, the ages old tradition of a joint family is a passing phenomenon these days, and where in rare cases it is still prevailing, it is showing signs of decay.
Most Indian adults have an inherent desire and preference to stay with their parents owing to the cultural upbringing. Since the time of birth, we see our grandparents, uncles and aunts staying together. However, increased independence and mobility have paved way for many joint families to collapse. The Indian joint family system has had the blow of modernization, urbanization and industrialization as well. Though some economic reasons have made it seemingly impossible to stay together under one roof but most of Indians still understand and value the importance of grandparents and extended families in our lives.
Joint Family System and Raising Children
When a child is born, the first help for the mother is usually from an older woman in the family. She is the one who guides the mother of the new-born on how to take care of the child, recounting her own experiences. As the child grows and matures, he feels secure and confident in the environment which is made safer by the presence of caring grandparents. The grandparents love their grandchildren unconditionally and are usually willing to do things that they missed out doing for their own children.
In an era when both the parents might be going out for work, the grandparents may offer solid support at home. They can look after the children with a personal touch that can’t be bought at any price. Parents can completely trust the grandparents being in charge of their children.
- Grandparents make great Teachers: Children tend to show affinity towards the older generation and are often found more receptive to ideas coming from the ever-trusted grandparents. So, Grandparents can make great teachers at home by using their rapport and sharing their experiences with their grandchildren. The learning and values imbibed in this association at a tender age can go a long way towards turning them into better adults. On the other hand, it could become a great stress-buster for grandparents who love to spend time with their grandchildren as this gives them a chance to bring out the child in them
- Teaches the child to be united: If a child grows up in a large family, he learns sharing, treating everyone respectfully and caring for others. He understands the importance of staying united. It would be rare for such a child to feel lonely as he has lot of people around to communicate and spend time with. He might have cousins of the same group as friends to play and share his feelings with. This may provide greater emotional security to the child
- Experience Libraries: Grandparents and other elders of the house bring with them experience and knowledge. The kids get to know about the world through their eyes. They also learn the rich Indian history and culture through the constant stories that grandparents share
- Security: when both the parents are working, a child can come home to his grandparents and skip the creche. All your security concerns should be put to rest!
- Enriched Life: Children who are raised under the same roof with older members of the family have an enriched lifestyle showered with love care and affection. Such kids lead a sheltered life amongst their loved ones. They value sharing, caring and relationships, and are more affectionate towards their families. This helps in raising sensitive adults
On the other hand, children staying away from their grandparents might never get emotionally attached with them. They might get to see their grandparents only once or twice a year and such a short period that would hardly be good enough to strengthen the emotional bonding. Even the grandparents might choose to stay detached to avoid the pangs of separation. As a result, our tomorrow may get completely disconnected and unaware of our yesterday.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Joint Family System
Off late, with modernization and urbanization, the Indian family system has often been a topic of debate. As with anything and everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages of joint family systems. However, the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages, and the joint family system could be given one serious thought. Read on!
Advantages of Indian Joint Family System
- A joint family system is indeed conducive to growth and development of all individuals
- There is always someone to support you and the joint family system runs on understanding of mutual adjustment and generosity of the family members
- Children get same age group cousins to study, play and share secrets with
- The head of the family becomes a patriarch and the family progresses squarely if sound and healthy discipline is maintained in the family
Disadvantages of Indian Joint Family System
- Some members are obviously not as good as others. There is a risk of exploitation of the ones who are good natured and compromising
- Difference in earning capabilities of the family could pave way for arguments and dis-satisfaction
- Lack of privacy is a major issue that crops up amongst people sharing the same roof
- Generation gap will always be there – sometimes stubborn attitude of the elders can weaken the family ties
- There is no single decision maker – so one might feel run down by other on petty issues and things
Nevertheless, a wise and sensible leader of the family who can keep discrimination at bay can still run a joint family efficiently. With changes in the society and ways of thinking and living, a little compromise now and then can make everyone avail the wonderful benefits of a joint family system.