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Parenting in a joint family


The dawn of urbanisation brought about the genesis of nuclear families in India many decades ago. However, joint families continue to thrive too. Merriam-Webster defines a joint family as “a family unit that includes two or more generations of kindred, related through either the paternal or maternal line who maintain a common residence and are subject to common social, economic, and religious regulations.” While earlier, joint families had three entire generations living under the same roof, now they have taken the shape of extended nulcear families, with grandparents living along with parents and children.

Positive outcomes of being in a joint family

Living in a joint family is a great help to working mothers. “My mother-in-law ensured that the children had their meals and kept the house clean when I worked. I would help her with the grocery shopping on the weekends, but on weekdays, she was the one who ran the house and I did not have much to worry about while I was at work,” says Meena, a working mother who is part of a joint family. The duties of the household become shared responsibility. Shreya Reddy, another working woman who is part of a joint family, says, “I am a teacher, and the oldest daughter-in-law. There would be times when I would come back home, utterly exhausted. On these days, Anjali, my co-sister, would take up the household chores and I could relax for the day.”

“Children will be happy to have play companions, story tellers, home work helpers and sometimes partners in crime in harmless mischief like stealing chocolates,” says Saras Bhaskar, Counseling Psychologist and Coach, Chennai. “I have always had a lot of people around me, to interact with, especially my grandparents. They are so easy to talk to and I have liked the feeling of being close to them,” says Vidhi Jha, a teenager whow grew up in a joint family. A child’s morale and confidence is high when multiple family members are available as a support system. “My best friend comes from a nuclear family. As a child, she would often be left alone at home, unsupervised and though she did not like it, she was unable to stop her parents from leaving. I have never been left alone at home; if not my older sister, there was always a cousin or my grandparents to take care of me,” says Avni, Vidhi’s sister. “I have always had someone to talk to at home. People may think that it led me to becoming dependent. On the contrary, it has always given me a sense of strength, knowing that there was always someone I could talk to and lean on for support if the need arose,” says Vidhi.

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