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

Parenting in a joint family

Family counsellor Meena Jha, living in a joint family with about ten members, says, “I have always been very clear about my parenting and how I wanted to bring my children up. This is why my mother-in-law never really interfered much when I was reprimanding my children and forbade them to do something. We were mostly on the same page regarding them.”

Ms. Bhaskar says, “Parenting style may differ among individuals within the same family. Hence, respecting the boundaries, the older adults may express their concern with the concerned adult privately if they find the disciplining practices are too harsh. Similarly, parents need to express assertively if they are uncomfortable about
the manner in which their children are treated.”

It is important to protect the interests of senior citizens in the family; parents should remember that grand parents
cannot be sole caretakers and that they have their own needs. Ms. Bhaskar speaks of a family who had approached her for counselling. “The daughter-in-law has two children – a three-year-old and a seven month- old. Her in-laws are over 60 and are retired. They take care of the children during the day and in the evening the mother-in-law likes to visit the temple. The daughter-in-law is upset that mother-in-law is not at home to give her snacks and ensure she is rested before she leaves for temple. The mother-in-law’s contention is that she ensures that the father-in-law
stays at home to play with the child during that one hour and that she gets tired taking care of the children for over 9 hours, and so she needs a break.”

Such situations can easily be resolved with mutual understanding and communication. If there is lack of timely intervention, then such misunderstandings may eventually lead to the disintegration of the whole family.

“Older adults must be balanced and know their boundaries, respect the other family members as human beings, encourage them. They must not draw lines for the family members to tow. Instead, they should be cognisant of paths that the individuals choose and promote growth in those.”

Ms. Saras Bhaskar
Counseling Psychologist and Coach,Chennai

Last Word
Family is an integral part of an individual’s life – the roots to one’s identity and a source of comfort. Let us conclude with Ms. Bhaskar’s words, “All of us come with positive and negative characteristics and if we are only going to store and recall negative experiences with  others in the family, then certainly we will have negative relationships only. So first recognising and accepting there may have been occasions when we could have knowingly or unknowingly hurt our family relationships, will help us to acknowledge and accept others as who they are. Forgiveness is necessary to have good relationships; it is an acquired skill that is necessary for the redemption of relationships.”



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