Viability of a Joint Family!

I was reading the article "In Defence of Joint Family System" by Meenakshi Jha and I couldn't agree with her more that most youngsters have to live with their parents not by their choice but by their limitations. True the cost of living and especially rent of apartments in all big cities is growing beyond the reach of many. As such young people are left with no other alternative but to live with the parents � sometimes adjusting in a small one or two bedroom apartment. On the other hand, some times it is otherwise � the aged parents need to be taken care of especially so in our Indian society.

Is it viable to live happily sharing home with parents or vice-versa? Provided both the parties are willing to adjust and of course be able to consider what we are getting in return. As I always believe nothing is free in this world. 

The foremost cause of young adults breaking away from their families is a yearning for freedom. Very appreciable! We all need freedom � freedom to live our lives in our own way. Freedom to discover Life per se with our choice of lifestyle. The problem arises, when there is interference of family members and uninvited opinion as to how one should live or react in situations. Most parents tend to ignore when their children come of age and are in a position to take charge of their lives. I personally believe that there comes a time when parents have to really "let go" and let the grown up children face realities of life and make decisions for themselves. As my husband always says on issues like this, "Nothing grows under a Banyan Tree" and he having built a life of his own all by himself inspite of all odds, repeats this quote often to not only our children but to others as well. 

There are times we as parents could get disturbed at our child's unhappiness but that does not in any way give us the right to dictate our terms to his/her spouse. As parents what in a situation like this is to become a guide and explain the phenomenon of social norms rather than simply condemn. Children invariably look up to their parents as role models and this the parents should not ever forget. Unless the situation is grave like a spouse is emotionally or physically abusing your child, I think we, as parents have no business to jump in the middle. We have to learn to ignore judiciously. Where necessary, we could send our point through directly to the concerned parties with clear communication and direct talk. More important, we should accept the person totally who joins the family as one of the family and before reacting to any of his/her actions, we should always ponder how would we react if the action were coming from our own child?

We can take care of small details. For example, the couple should have the freedom to invite friends, have the freedom to throw parties or visit their spouse's family as freely as they mutually like. They should also have the freedom to have difference of opinion among themselves as only by differing they recognize the individuality of each other and this acceptance of individuality leads to a better understanding. These are small things but their disruption could causes big problems. 

It takes a lot to adjust and accommodate within the family. Once we grow up and become distinct individuals, it is difficult to adjust not only with the person you marry but also the in-law family. It is still conventional in most societies for the boys to stay with the parents after marriage rather than the girls. Glumly the person who joins the family is expected to do all the adjustments with very little consideration for her personality, upbringing and basic character. She has to adjust to the whims and fancies of the family she joins under all odds. 

In any kind of relationship, we all know it is much easier to adjust to the behavior of the other person if we are compassionate and understanding and we accept the person as is. It would be easier for the girl who is leaving all her loved ones behind to adjust and be accepted in an alien family if the family is more rational and accepting. 

It is a small example but goes a long way in understanding relationships. The daughter in-law may be very possessive or selfish or argumentative or so forth. Why is she like that? May be she is the only child and has been spoilt by the parents. There can be many other reasons. However, the logical reason is that she who joins the family enters a new world and it is the responsibility of all in the family to help her adjust in the new environment by being more compassionate and understanding.  Does not love beget love? One should give a leeway. The problem comes when we just see the bad side of the girl and keep complaining. If we could be more compassionate, we could definitely contribute in helping her adjust more amicably and lovingly. 

The bottom line is the parents need to draw a line as where it is there place to make a comment.

On the other hand the person who moves into the family has a greater responsibility to make all efforts to fit into the norms of the family. Till next time..


More by :  Meera Chowdhry

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