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Joint families back in vogue

Sevashree Mohapatra discusses the advantages and reasons for living in a joint family.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2006 17:50 IST

You thought the joint family system exists only in Ekta Kapoor's tearjerker TV soaps? Right? Well, you are wrong.

Meet Rita, 28. She works in a software firm, and is totally relaxed during her eight hours at office. Though she has a small kid, she knows that the child is well looked after by her in-laws. Rita clearly has no regrets being in a joint family.

Priya, 32, has two kids. She works in an advertising firm and keeps long hours. But she is not worried about her children going to bed hungry. Her mother-in-law takes full care of the children.

Shalini, 24, initially dreaded the thought of staying with her in-laws when her husband suggested it. She felt a well-paid maid would be better, as she won't be a continuous source of interference. But Shalini is now happy that she went along with her husband's idea.

Welcome to the world of one big happy family.

Deliberate choice
With working couples being the norm, the nucleus family is once again giving way to joint ones. And this time round it's not out of compulsion, but more a deliberate choice.

As women spend most of their time in office, the guilt that maidservants or crèche owners might be neglecting their kid, is a disturbing thought. Such fears also tend to have a negative impact on the office work.

 
Children seem to be happy together.

Compare this with the peace of mind that one has if the kids are under the loving care of their grandparents.

"Since I work in an ad agency, the pressure on me is immense. My husband has his own business and works late at night. Initially we had our own set-up, but as our baby was born, I realised the difficulty of raising a baby with a job. So we moved into our in-laws place and I have no regrets," says Priya.

Besides the affection for their grand children, the elderly also have their rich experience to count on, tackling small health problems of the tiny tots with homemade remedies.

On the other hand, a working mother from a nucleus family has to take leave from office every time her baby is sick. And asking your boss for a day or two off, you bet, the toughest job.

Shared responsibility
Apart from your child being looked after, when you reach home tired, you also find the home in place. "In a joint family, responsibilities are shared by everybody, which makes life easier," confesses a happy Rita.

A mom-in-law can also be a great help in sorting out household chores on a busy morning like packing the lunch or a quick sandwich.

For the elderly too, it is a satisfying option, as they feel wanted. No longer they have to fend for themselves at the fag end of life. And the kids also enjoy the company of the grandparents and cousins.

And it's not that only women have settled down for a joint family. Men have also started accepting their in-laws and don't mind sharing the same apartment. The fact that a daughter is more comfortable with her own parent makes life even easier for the busy couple.

But yes, everything comes at a price. So, if there are advantages of being in a joint family, it has its shortcomings too. Nonetheless, as most couples are increasingly finding out, the advantages definitely outweigh everything else.

So next time when you watch a TV soap having in-laws, grandparents and grand children, cousins staying together, don't laugh it out. But yes, those vamps, which are regular feature of all TV serials, are not necessarily part of real life, yet!

First Published: Mar 23, 2006 14:24 IST