The advantages and disadvantages of living in a joint family are discussed here in this article. This is the age of the nuclear. We prefer everything in a way that minimizes size and maximizes efficacy. Human build their buildings taller and narrower to save area. We make our phones as small and as thin as we can. We shorten our ‘okay’ s to ‘k’ s. Our smiles are miniaturized to tiny round symbols. We keep our human relations the same way, as simplified as we can. Joint families are a rare thing to see nowadays, especially in urban areas.
Joint families are relics of the past, huge family homes with parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces, up to three centuries under a single roof with the accumulated knowledge and heritage of centuries more. Okay maybe that is a romanticized version of things, the truth is as always, not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s much more complex and varies from place to place, from home to home.
Advantages of living in a Joint family
The advantages of living in a joint family are discussed below:
There’s always somebody to be your shoulder to cry on, to tell all the minute details of your life to, to play cards with you or watch movies with you or just to be your company. Loneliness, is never, ever an issue. Kids never grow up alone. They’ll grow up listening to their grandparents stories and being spoilt by their aunties and uncles. They’ll be close to their cousins in a way they never would if they saw each other only on holidays and weddings and funerals. There’s a whole village inside your own home.
Having a society around you to be your moral compass and steer you in the right path is a definite positive. You learn to share, share your toys when you’re young, share your food, your books, and share your resources to your family if they need it when you’re older. A Person learns to be kind, to be respectful. You how to treat people right. And you learn how to pass on those values to the next generation.
3. SOCIAL SKILLS
It’s kind of hard to be introverted or a loner when you’re surrounded by people constantly from the day you’re born. You learn how to speak and interact with people of all ae groups. You become more confident and learns how to handle yourself in a crowd. Years of fighting with cousins means you can hold your own in any argument. You can stand up for yourself. There are exceptions of course. There may be those who still grow up quiet and shy despite being brought up in a joint family.
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4. SHARED RESPONSIBILITIES
You’re never alone in your responsibilities. Financial obligations are shared with everyone pitching in. It’s not just your job to look after the house. There would never be a need to look for nannies for children. Safety in your home is assured, at least from external threats. Everyone has each other’s backs. Financially, there’s always a safety net that makes life a bit easier. You can breathe a little easier when you’re not personally and solely responsible for every little thing around your home.
5. LOVE AND HAPPINESS
Whenever something good happens in your life, the first thing you want to do is call someone you care about so they can share in your happiness, effectively amplifying it. In a joint family, there’s always someone around to do exactly that. There are people to encourage and support you at every turn. To celebrate your every minute achievement and to pick you up in difficult times. You would never be depraved of love and care and affection, you would be surrounded by it. There is a happiness that comes with the sense of belonging. A comfort achieved by security.
Disadvantages of living in a Joint family
The disadvantages of living in a joint family are discussed below:
Privacy is something that is hard to achieve even in a four member household. It becomes practically non existent in a joint family. It is hard to keep secrets. There is nowhere to hide. Your life is not your own but belongs to every member of your family. Everybody has an opinion about every inconsequential detail of your life. They will interfere in everything from your breakfast to your love life to your bowel movements. For couples, it might be hard to connect and be on their own when some aunty peeks in interjecting with the “So are you going to have kids soon?” question. Everybody’s noses are in everybody’s business. It is hard to retain your individuality, your sense of who you are outside your family.
Doesn’t matter how big the family home is, it is always, always, going to be crowded. Personal space is an unheard of concept. The chances of you getting your own room, especially as a kid, is very slim. You might feel suffocated in your own home. Even like you’re stuck in an an overcrowded prison at times. Another point, communicable diseases. If one kid gets chickenpox or head lice, you bet every single kid in the household will be scratching from the next day.
Today the concept of being born, living and dying in the same place is unappealing to most people. When better opportunities come knocking, people chase after them. People move away for jobs or just for a different life, and staying together with their families might not seem like reason enough to not go. Getting married and settling down in the old rural family home seems like a very impractical choice to lots of people. Cities offer better jobs, better educational opportunities for children, and other benefits of urban culture. From financial and lifestyle perspective, a nuclear family in a city would seem like the most practical choice.
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In most joint families, there exists the age old head of the household concept. The head, generally the oldest male, is considered responsible for running the household and all it’s financial activities and any other major decisions. This, and other patriarchal concepts that comes with living with older generations, does not run well with our feminist, empowered, educated generation. In such households, there maybe a suppression of the voices and opinions of the female members. Where traditions ate first priority, discussion of sexuality and the like maybe considered taboo and may result in practices like isolation of girls during menstruation etc. In extreme cases, these households may even breed instances of sexual abuse even among family members.
5. ALIENATION OF NEW MEMBERS
In a close knit family, new members may not always be the most welcome. Spouses may not be received very well by certain members of the family. This results in discord among the members. Arguments and fights escalate. Even a new child may be looked upon by jealousy by the other children, which is a problem even in small families with two children. The problem tends to be magnified when you throw more children into the mix.
So it is safe to conclude that living in a joint family is not exactly how it is depicted in Bollywood movies or even in your grandmother’s stories. There is the love and comfort that comes with being surrounded by family, but there is also the fights and tears and the million problems that comes with being, constantly surrounded by family with not a moment’s respite. The choice of course, depends largely on personal opinions. The old traditional joint families may be too outdated for the twenty first century. Maybe the key is to improve upon this concept so that it is more acceptable and in sync with the times. So, these were the advantages and disadvantages of living in a joint family. I hope you liked this article.