Joint family will never work in this modern society.
Joint family is good only when it is lived the proper way. Unless you co-exist in harmony with your in laws you can never have a moment of peace. And the worst thing about joint family is your denied rights.
You often fight with your spouse about this, don’t you?
Now shall we see the pros and cons of joint family?
The pros – just a few
- You have elders to guide you.
- Your children do not feel lonely as they have companions of their age.
- No one suffers from dearth of money as everyone’s income is pooled as a mutual family fund.
The cons – quite too many
- There is complete lack of privacy.
- Bickering among family members become big family feud.
- You lack freedom.
- You cannot make any individual decisions.
- The top earning member feels leeched of his\her money.
- There is too much internal family politics.
- You are always under a scanner.
- Elders are too interfering into your personal life
- They are too conservative to understand your modern outlook
- Your individuality is crushed as you are compelled to abide by mutual family laws.
- Your parents feel apprehensive to visit you.
Rather a long list of cons, isn’t it?
Western countries have come out of the concept of joint families years ago. But many Asian couples still live in joint families – many unwillingly.
You might cite families that live as joint families for generations. It is very few and very less.
How did the concept of joint family evolve?
- Long, long ago families had a common business.
- It was started by the patriarch of the family.
- His sons never worked outside.
- They looked after the business of their father.
- Sons were given their share of income by their father.
- Their wives never worked.
- Women slaved day and night doing household chores.
- They were completely dependent on their husbands for their survival.
So most couples were compelled to live with their in laws.
My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. She had three daughters-in-law. To the outside world it looked as if she ruled over them. Everyone assumed that her daughters in law obeyed my grandmother to the dot.
But the reality was different.
‘I cannot manage them. I am getting on age. Settle your brothers as an individual family. This is best for everyone. I cannot handle the inner politics among your three sisters-in-law.’ I still remember her literally pleading with my mother.
Finally my mother talked to her brothers [my maternal uncles] and told them to settle down as individual families. My grandmother could now have her well-deserved rest.
This happened some sixty years ago when in India joint family was the life of almost all married couples.
But now the concept of joint family is getting lesser and lesser even in India.
Joint family is not all love and affection as it is said to be. Modernity has not only changed the mentality of couples, but also that of grandparents.
‘Grandparents are very selfish nowadays. They do not care for their grandchildren with the selfless love of the yester generation. They are TV addicted. They are always glued to the TV. To the present grandparents looking after their grandchildren means giving them food and letting them play video games so that they are not disturbed’ I heard my mother telling an old friend of hers who came to visit her.
She was right.
It is true grandparents love their grandchildren. But looking after them is a great burden thrust on them compulsively by their sons\daughters. And they do not have the patience and stamina to look after their mischievous grandchildren.
My mother cherished her grandchildren. She was very caring and loving. My daughter adores my mother even after becoming a mother herself. She still has fond memories of the care and love with which my mother looked after her.
Can you see such selfless grandparents now?
The world has completely changed. Modernity has made joint families lose its value and importance.
Wife earns as equal as her husband. She has more worldly exposure than her yester sisters. She is very individualistic. She wants to live her married life as she wishes to. She does not like the concept of joint family as she knows her individuality will be crushed.
‘My brother’s wife and my wife could not adjust with each other. They fought daily for one reason or the other. My mother was also very partial towards my brother’s wife, Sudhan, my friend’s son told me when I met him at my niece’s engagement function.
‘ I nowadays don’t talk with my brother. My wife does not talk with her co-sister. My mother is now with my brother. I think the main reason for such resentment between us was because we lived as joint family’ he shook his head sadly.
His was a common scenario you see in a joint family.
Why do parents feel that their son\daughter do not love them if they live individually?
They should realize that their children too want freedom and privacy.
The best gift parents can give to their married children is the ability to let go their possessiveness. They should not intrude into the life of their children.
And they should know that their self-respect will be shattered when their son in law\daughter in law completely ignore them if they stay with them.
Take a step away from your married children. Give them the freedom they crave for. They now respect you for your understanding.
Joint family does not bring in harmony. It in fact drives a wedge between all family member. One fine day all love and respect is lost.