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  • India’s most comprehensive parenting portal, with excerpts from ParentEdge – India’s leading parenting magazine

Parenting in a joint family


Apart from confidence and emotional  strength, children also gain patience and understanding while growing up in a joint family. Surrounded by different people, they are bound to come across differences in opinion. They learn to be tolerant in their interactions with others. Children also learn the art of compromise and conflict resolution. “Growing up with so many people around me has taught me that different people have different opinions, and I have learnt to respect that,” said Vidhi.

“My grandparents eat simpler and sober food, but both I and my sister prefer spicy food. There was a time when I would fuss about this, but now I am completely okay with it; we eat simple food at home and spicy food outside,” says Avni.

It is not only the parents and children who derive the benefits. “Grandparents find themselves being useful after
their retirement. They also learn latest technology, gadgets and gizmos from the younger ones,” says Saras Bhaskar.

Being a Parent in a Joint Family
Parenting can be a tight tope walk in a joint family given the roles played by other adults – be it the children’s aunts and uncles or grand parents. If these adults have child-raising approaches conflicting to the parents’, it can be extremely distressing to parents. Also, Ms. Bhaskar says, “In our culture, hierarchy still plays a major role and if an eldest of the family practices unfair and biased behaviours, in the name of respect, the rest of the family members
are expected to endure. This produces children, who are frustrated and adults feeling helpless and hopeless and get
depressed.”

There are other problems that she has seen in joint families:
• Adults discriminate or show favouritism among the children in the family.
• Some adults put down/bully others in the presence of their children.
• Undue pampering of children by other adults and/or grand parents.
• Preventing parents from disciplining children for inappropriate or irresponsible behaviours or interference
in parenting.
• While some indulgence from grandparents and other adults is expected in a joint family, pampering to the extent of spoiling children is seen in some joint families.
• When there is dysfunctionality in the relationships among the adults, children who are keen observers, learn
to manipulate these tensions to their advantage. This is not healthy for their emotional growth.

Work around
Given the multiple benefits of a joint family system, it would definitely be worthwhile to examine if some of the drawbacks can be addressed through dialogue and cooperation among adults.

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