There are distinct advantages and disadvantages in both the systems, but advantages far outweigh disadvantages in a joint family setup. I believe that the joint family system has several benefits and hence needs to be re-visited and looked into with all seriousness.
We must consider it as a possible model for future families. However, the major gain that one derives from the nuclear family is the opportunity it provides to create an individual identity of its own, something all human beings crave for and miss it in a joint family set-up.
These are two fundamentally different models of family and our efforts should be to make a synthesis of the two and create a new family model based on the joint family system. In this new model the basic and underlying concept of the joint family, where more than one family live together under one roof, would remain the same. It will incorporate changes based on the experience gained in a nuclear family and also in the ways members in the family interact with one another to lead a life of mutual co-operation and inter-dependence.
If the new family model is based on the foundation of mutual respect and love for each and every member of the family, then the system will take off without any hiccup and bound to be a success. All family members should communicate openly and honestly with one another. The elders in the family must take the initiative and create the right ambience and environment for open communication. Mutual trust and the willingness to listen will help family members to open up to one another. For a joint family system to be successful in the changed scenario as it exists today, individual strengths, weaknesses and positive aspects each member brings into the family should be nurtured and acknowledged on a daily basis.
The younger generation of both men and women today are highly qualified, ambitious and raring to explore the world and in the process many of them lose direction in life. It is here the elders in the family can help them to settle down in life provided the youth have all ears. They should take the responsibility of guiding them properly and nuggets of wisdom learnt during the course of their long life should be passed on to them so that the youngsters emulate the noble ideals and values imparted to them and try and lead a disciplined life.
In today’s nuclear family, both the husband and wife work. The present day work culture, the timings and the life style forced on them leave them no room even to exchange pleasantries to each other when they return home very late in the evening. They both are on the mobiles talking incessantly and the hectic schedule they both have set before them leave them completely exhausted at the end of the day. It is a rat race and both feel guilty that they are not able to spend quality time together.
Yet, they do not take corrective action to reverse the situation and address the problem confronting them and over time they start quarrelling with each other, which becomes a regular feature in their life, losing respect and regard to each other. In such an atmosphere, kids are neglected and denied the affection and love they expect from their parents and they are traumatised.
It is here that the new joint family model that I have visualised comes into play which can address the problem effectively and help the couple to see the harsh realities of their lifestyle and bring about necessary changes which will bring back smiles in their faces.
It is important that all members in a joint family feel accepted for what they are and as they are. Realistic expectations help everyone to be more tolerant of others and weaknesses of one another. Having unrealistic expectations of others is often the cause of disappointments and misunderstandings in the family.
The new family model which I have conceptualised will address the following problems:
This model family will go a long way into making of an acceptable social order, which will have all the ingredients of a traditional joint family, where every member of the family can enjoy his or her space and freedom and lead a cheerful and happy life.
Jai Hind WI,
Thanks for a touhing article on family traditions.We all must see a way through to go back to the traditions.This is only way to preserve our culture which is the need of deteriorating social scenerio of ours.
Sir please comment on my article..on Caste Census
I have read your blog and appreciate your thoughts. My susggestion was not going back to the old system, but find a synthesis between the two, which can offer a better solution. This is a very sensitive and complex topic and there are bound to be divergent opinions. However, I enjoyed your blog on French curve.
Written exceedingly well and most judiciously. You have a powerful and potent pen.
Sir, I do not know how to respond to this post while also being impelled to post a comment. The solution you offer is what has been practiced and has been found wanting; this is why a new system, with all its faults, emerged. At the base level, dispelling all the practical garbage clothed in emotional terms like children grow under the careful attention of the grandparents have been given the lie to. I have blogged on this a long time back - how grand parents must see themselves as a linkage to the past, growing more and more remote, and accept it as the order of the times.
They cannot wish to relive a second phase of dominance. This has been the source of friction in many families I have seen.
First, a joint family is NOT defined by people living together under one roof. It is rather a joint household. If in an extended family (down to the level of one generation above and below the reference level, shall we agree) major decisions are taken jointly (weddings, property acquisitions, disposal, management), even while maintaining distinct households, it is a joint family.
Yes, a joint family system under separate households has more tenuous linkages and more visible fracture lines. These are typically occasioned by economic considerations - people moving out of their "villages". What I say is straight out of sociology text books. Nothing new. Unfortunately, your blog does not recognize this. There are very very few joint households, except in the case of agriculturalists and some other fixed property owners.
One of the comments says there is nothing better than living with one's own parents. May be true and I indeed enjoyed the days my parents visited me. But, in our patrilineal system, are you offering the same pleasure to the woman? Typically, no. Why is this asymmetry not recognized? Can this not be the source of "son preference"? These questions seem to be brushed under the carpet in your system. I know enough instances where the grandparents shift between their sons households over an annual cycle, but hardly ever to their daughter's household. Your system will perpetuate such anomalies, in one sense or the other - preferential access to paternal grandparents.
Sir, systems change and indeed the newer systems may be more iniquitous than the older ones. We must recognize such instances and be ready to correct them. But the solution does not lie in going back to an old system dressed up as new.
i think you are absolutely right both sides have their adv. as well dis adv. but i stay in a joint family and i feel you have more adv. as there is so much to do together.
the key to a happy joint family is only if everybody accepts each others flaws with happiness... there is nothing like living with your parents..
Dear Dr Unni,
Thanks for your comments. Yes, with so many Resident Associations coming up, community life is fast catchng up with the younger generation. As you have rightly observed, joint family system with its inherent strength and advantage will attract the youngsters who are presently a confused lot!
Dear WI Sir,
As rightly pointed out by you both the systems have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Any thing in excess is bad enough, albeit there are reasons galore for the increase of nuclear families, one of the reasons for the break down of joint family system is the limited space given to individuals particularly the less powerful and the young.
The system because of its inherent strengths and advantages is staging a come back although in a different fashion.
Community life is getting well entrenched in the society in the form of residents associations..........VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM