My son, now 2.3 years old, is a pre-schooler and very recently he was introduced to the concept of a big family and small family, in his play school. In his not-so-clear to understand way of expression, he came home and told me,
“Mumma! Pratap has a biiiiiiiiiig family!”
As he said the word ‘biiiiiiiiiig’ his eyes grew bigger and his voice – louder. I almost felt like he’s boasting about being a part of a biiiiiiiig family (I don’t know how many kids of his age get the privilege of telling the same thing to their Moms) and felt really good at the thought of bringing him up in a family which has four generations under one roof.
In India, the concept of ‘joint family’ is very well known and common. In my childhood days, staying in a nuclear family made you the odd one out and every other student of my class was found to be from a joint family – a family with parents, siblings, grandparents and even uncles and aunts.
However, these days, things are changing and unfortunately, staying with one’s own parents in India is considered as staying in a joint family – forget about the grandparents and aunts and uncles. With both the mother and father working to cash in loads of money and assets for their children, the kids are left to grow up in the day care or under the supervision of an experienced and elderly maid at home.
In such a scenario, I felt the need to pen down my thoughts on bringing up your child in a joint family. Here’s what I feel is great about it…
Staying in a joint family helps your child learn values like sharing, loving, adjusting, sacrificing, respecting and what not.
Children learn to share whatever they have, be it too much or little. Toys, books, clothes, food, shoes and the list of things they can share is endless.
Children learn to love more than just their parents and siblings and grow up loving their grandparents, aunts-uncles or even great grandparents.
Children also learn to adjust, for instance, staying in a nuclear family makes them enjoy the privilege of having their own room whereas there are chances of not getting a separate room in a joint family. They learn to adjust themselves in the available resources.
Children learn to sacrifice their wishes, their happiness, their comforts. Cancelling the plan of going to the park just because grandma’s ill makes the child learn that his wishes and happiness is not the only thing in life. He also needs to take care of and consider the others in the family.
Kids learn to respect elders (other than their parents). They learn to talk with respect, behave with respect with elders of the family only to get reflected in their behavior in the outside world.
Not so pampered!
Though lots of people in the house means double the pampering, but sometimes this is not the case. Grandfather of the child or the aunt or just some other person from the family might be the Mr. Strict around and thus the child learns to not throw more tantrums than is required and value the pampered treatment that she is receiving.
‘D’ for Discipline
It is much easier to discipline a child who stays in a joint family. Unlike small families, where the mothers have to unwillingly take the help of cartoons or YouTube videos to make the child have food.
With so many elderly individuals in the house, it is easier to teach the child to form good habits, even simple ones like wishing good morning to all, saying thank you and please, asking for permission before borrowing etc. It is easy to quote examples of grandparents or uncles to the child and encourage them to pick up good habits, when staying in a joint family.
Love, love and more love…
In a small family, with just the parents around, the kids receive two units of love while growing up. However, with four, five or even six individuals in the house the count of love increases to six units making the child more loved. The more loved the child is, the more are the chances of him growing into an emotionally strong and stable individual.
Kids from joint families are used to living or interacting with many individuals day in and day out. Hence, they are not just Mumma’s boys or Daddy’s girls, but happy with anybody and everybody whom they meet. This fosters growth and development in them, which is likely to get inhibited in the opposite case.
A child from a joint family also learns to deal with various individuals of different natures, likes, dislikes and preferences-within the family. He learns the quality of acceptance and adjusting with people.
Support: 24 x 7
For the trouble times in life, not just the child but also his parents have a 24 x 7 support system loaded with guidance, experience and emotional and moral support. This makes the child feel more confident and never alone in the otherwise unsafe contemporary world.
Children learn the importance of festivals, celebrations, cultural beliefs and values and are able to enjoy these better in a joint family. In India, especially, no festival is complete without the whole family getting together. Thus, staying in a joint family teaches the child the importance of togetherness and the beauty of celebrating life with the whole family.
You are under CCTV surveillance!
With the grandparents, uncles, aunts and elder siblings around, it is very difficult for a child to get onto the wrong path in life. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or sub-consciously the kid is always under a check (also because he’s hardly left alone) and tends to think twice before doing something that should not be done.
With so many benefits of a joint family, there’s always an additional one:
Best times are made, only when a biiiiiiiiig family’s around!