I remember the time when I was pregnant with my second child. Due to some complications, I was mostly bed-ridden and my husband, being a workaholic, was of little help. My elder one all of five years would manage to get ready for school – taking bath, getting dressed, wearing socks /shoes, packing her bag; all by herself. Living abroad, we did not have any help from our immediate family members, whom I longed for, especially during this time. I felt bad when on some days I would not be able to cook something yummy, instead gave my daughter some junk to eat. But the whole situation made my daughter quite an independent and complain-free kid since the beginning. She would never whine and happily went about doing her chores. Neighbourhood friends were the only company she had at that time.
During this time, lying on the bed I use to count the blessings of my friend who would call me up from a faraway land for a quick chat. She, a working woman, in my opinion was one blessed being. Despite being a mother of three year old son, she never took a break from job. She never had to worry about his son’s upkeep. The kid’s father would drop him to school while the grandfather would go to pick him. Once back, the grandmother would pamper him with choicest of delicacies. The whole day he would play with his cousins. The mother would return back to a contended child. But, at times she used to complain, “I am so annoyed. My in-laws would never restrict my child from watching TV and eating chocolates. All day he plays and never studies”. She further added how lucky I was to have full control on my child’s rearing.
Both the situations superficially look farcical. Here I have a nuclear family but cribbing for the support and love which extended family could provide to my daughter. On the other hand, my friend longs for a nuclear one in order to make her little one more disciplined. It’s a human nature to wish for the things which they can’t get. Isn’t it?
Someone has rightly said “There is so much grey to every story- nothing is so black or white”. Similarly each family set up –joint or nuclear has its own merits and demerits and one can’t really say for sure which is best without going through all its pros and cons. So let’s study some aspects to get a clearer picture.
- The biggest boon of this set-up is that it makes a child self-reliant from an early stage of childhood. As it happened in my case. Today, my elder one is complimented time and again from the family and friends on her matured behavior and the way she conducts herself. Kids living in nuclear families sees their parents carrying out their set of duties diligently, a quality which is rubbed off on the kids to remain with them throughout their life.
- A child living in nuclear family is not bombarded with advice from various people of a big family, a trait which is prevalent among the worldly-wise elders. Modern parenting is different from what it used to be. Today parents are more of a friend and guide so they don’t impose their judgment on their young ones. When the kids remain confusion-free from unsolicited advices they become independent in their choice –making also.
- The biggest disadvantage is the kids are deprived of love, affection and care of their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins when they live away from them. And we all know in this materialistic world, the more selfless love a kid receives, the better it is for his happiness.
- If both parents are working, the child end up being in day-care center or co-raised by a nanny. Such support system is professional in nature and won’t provide the same care as by the child’s own family.
I have witnessed another side-effect of nuclear family in my neighbours’ only son who resorts to attention seeking behavior when his parents are around. He cries, hits his parents or remains agitated. This six year old kid comes to day-care after school gets over, meets her mother late in the evening and by the time father is back from office, he is off to sleep. While this might be an isolated case but remaining sad or detached is not uncommon in the child of a nuclear family.
- For a child, a joint family can prove to be his first school where he learns various social skills- sharing, caring, flexibility, tolerance and co-operation. When he sees members of a one big family living happily together under the same roof, he carries the same attitude in right spirit throughout his life- be it school, playground, hostel, office or even in marriage.
- Our society is based on certain values, tradition and culture which are passed from one generation to other. No one can deny the fact that in the company of elders, a child gets the first-hand knowledge of these moral principles.
- For working parents it’s a blessing in disguise if the child is in company of his family. Not only the parents feel a sense of security but the child too is more comfortable as he receives genuine affection from people of his family rather than the attendants of a day-care.
- Since every person in a joint family has their own opinion, a tussle between the conservative and the progressive views adversely impacts the mental balance of the young kids of an impressionable age.
Once on my way back home, I saw my friend’s daughter sitting in the park and sobbing quietly. Upon inquiry she told me since her parents are fighting with the grandparents over some money-related issue, she is scared to go back home. I felt pity and took her to my place. Not living amicably under same roof is a serious downside of a joint family which affects a child’s healthy state of mind.
2. Today’s style of parenting is very different from what it used to be in past and if the elders of the family keep meddling or give their unsolicited tips on parenting , it not only bring doubts in the minds of parents about their rearing abilities but the child too remains perplexed.
From the above given debate, one can say no family set-up has the right ingredients for a perfect household. But as I see it, irrespective of the type of family a child stays, as long as there is love, understanding and proper communication among the members, it in itself becomes an ideal place for the young ones to live happily ever after.