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Divided and unhappy?

Joint family system seems to be on its dead bed in the city.

entertainment Updated: Feb 06, 2011 01:18 IST

Hum saath saath kyun nahi hain? This is what an average Delhi-ite needs to ask himself today. Joint families are fast dismantling as the capital witnesses a surge in the number of nuclear families.

As much as 90% of families are made up of a couple, with or without kids, says the 65th National Sample Survey Round July 2008-June 2009 on ‘Housing Conditions in Delhi’. What’s the reason that’s prodding a growing number of couples in the city to live separately from their families? “One finds a large number of nuclear families in the city because of the ever increasing migrating population that comes to Delhi for work. They have no choice but to live separately from their family of origin. Lack of living space in most houses is another reason that has forced couples to move out from their parent’s houses,” says psychiatrist Dr Avdesh Sharma. There may be others who willingly live separately for want of independence, he adds.

The reason may vary, but a joint family set up scores over a nuclear one, say experts. “In the absence of any support, looking after the child is an uphill task for parents. Since there’s no parenting role model, parents find themselves at their wits end when it comes to teaching basic manners to children,” says Dr Avdesh Sharma.

A lot of young people in the city, also don’t feel happy about the fact that they live away from their uncles, aunts and cousins. Stylist Dolee Gupta, 25, says, “I have four cousins who live in Delhi and I don’t even remember their names! That’s what happens when you grow up in a nuclear family.” For 18-year-old student Jigyasa Anand too, leaving her grandparents home was a painful experience. “My parents moved out from my grandparents homes as there wasn’t enough space for everyone to live. I sulked for months as I was very attached to my grandmom and no one can replace her in my life.”

But there are others like 24-year-old Bindiya Sarkar, a PR executive, who believes a joint family system comes in the way of your freedom. “My aunts and grandmother used to create a fuss whenever I wore a short skirt or had a boyfriend coming home. We got too sick of such a set up and moved out,” she says.

Model Amanpreet Wahi says such situations arise only when there is an absence of understanding between family members. “A joint family is no less than a blessing. My in-laws are very liberal and understanding. I certainly want my children to grow up with their grandparents around them,” she says.

A nuclear family set up

Why couples prefer a nuclear unit

* You can enjoy your privacy and independence
* No one will object if you come back home late
* You can call friends over and throw late night parties
* You can cook/eat what you like
* You can keep a pet of your choice

The flip side
* People start looking for a ‘mother like’ or a ‘father like’ figure to make up for the emotional vacuum in their lives
* Nuclear families interact less with their neighbours
* Children are often lonely and depressed
* You are often at the mercy of tutors, maids, babysitters and drivers

A joint family

* Strong bond between family members
* Grandparental supervision for children
* Expenses are often shared by family members
* There’s always someone to confide in
* You can seek guidance from elders
* Children are well behaved

What you may not like
* You need to be adjusting and compromising
* You can’t take all your decisions independently
* You can’t do up the house your way
* You can’t wear what you like
* You have to follow certain traditions
* There may be comparisons with others and constant bickering

A nuclear set up can lead to depression, suicidal tendencies, alcohol and drug abuse. Cases of early prosmiscuous relationships are also reported in such families
- Dr Avdesh Sharma, psychiatrist

Nuclear families are compelled to rely on people like maids and drivers which is not a healthy trend. Cases of sexual abuse of children have also been reported
- Sunil Vatsayan, marriage councellor