A family is broadly defined as a group of people related by blood living together. In India we still have the tradition of the joint family which is virtually extinct from the western world. However even in India the joint family system is rapidly giving way to nuclear families and endless discussions happen and the jury is out on which is the better system of the two. What is breaking up the joint family system?
Keeping the individuals opinion aside, there are the two fundamental different models of family which have their own advantages and disadvantages. There are many people who have experienced both. Those who support the joint family system believe that people who live under the roof of joint family have realized the worth of relationships better. They have a good co-operation power and patience level. When a lot of people are around you, there are less chances of feeling lonely as there are people to share your sorrows. Celebration of any festivity is full of zest with so many people contributing. Children get to hear grandpa and grandma stories at night. A child gets not only love of his or her parents but also from all the other family members and feels pampered.
But what if such good things don’t happen and the experience is totally opposite to it sometimes? What if there is politics and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion? What if there is indiscrimination and injustice? What if the head of the family plays favorites and makes distinction among family members? Many joint families have broken apart because of politics and the atmosphere of hate among family members as we see in many of our TV serials today. So it is really difficult to extol the virtues of the joint family without looking at the vices.
I would like to share something that I have seen in my own family. I have been living in a nuclear family since my childhood days. It’s quite sad to note that my grandmother being a self centered lady treated her children differently though she was blessed with many sons She has 3 sons out of whom only one lives with her who’s the youngest. For some reason he was always her favorite. The other two were always taken to task. They were meant to work all day long and go to college after earning money. The money that my father and my uncle earned was taken by my grandmother and she wanted them to study by their own money.
She never prioritized on her children’s studies or their well being. Due to unknown reasons till today, my aunt had a miscarriage because as soon as she came after marriage, she and her son were told by the grandmother to leave the house. When after some time she was told that she is pregnant, she pleaded to live in a joint family because she had come from a very big family and it was very difficult to live alone without any permanents shelter. But my grandmother didn’t listen to them once. Situations being unavoidable and harsh she went into depression and had a miscarriage. The same happened with my mother but I was saved anyhow. When recently I came to know all this about my grandmother, I started wanted to question her. What was her intention of driving away her son’s. Why was she so cruel and hard hearted. Did she want absolute control over grandfather’s house and property and was even afraid of her son’s and daughter in laws.
This is just a story of my family. What about unknown stories which might be even more dangerous and sad than this. The problem is that people don’t talk about it. Even I could have been brought up in a big joint family and be pampered more than what I got from my parents but maybe that wasn’t meant to happen. This family politics and injustice could be one reason why families might have changed from joint to nuclear. However there can be many other unknown reasons.
A nuclear family is a small family where you are far from your grandparents, uncle and aunts. It’s not that a nuclear family doesn’t face clashes. There is clashes between parents and children and between siblings. They do, but they are not deep rooted clashes which are more often can be seen in joint families. Modern nuclear families have a kind of private environment. People are happy to live alone in a small family but some do crave for joint families still, because like the evil there was the good part too.
There’s no reason to blame the structure of a joint or a nuclear families. Both have their pros and cons in own. The only problem lies in the behavior of the individuals and how they sort the problems arising in their lives. Some people get detached from big families due to property reasons, some due to partiality and politics and many more. Involvement into undesirable practices can be dangerous, and criminal cases to get hold of property are evident and reported regularly. Like, people kill each other due to selfish reasons in order to grab property and live a materialistic life. This drastic change have had a deep impact on lives of each section of the two group in our society. Some might have forgotten that adulthood is not going to be easy at all and they’ll need their elders support and love which is the only thing to make them feel secure and happy