There was once an India that treasured the traditional joint family. Five brothers, their spouses, their children, their grandchildren and the dog all lived under one roof. They ate together, slept together, cried together, laughed together and prayed together in perfect harmony. Families got together in the evenings: men discussing politics, mothers-in-law gossiping, and daughters-in-law cooking, while the children played in the verandas. The families then, were a kaleidoscope of color, laughter, relationships, song, dance, food and happiness. Well, those were the days of yore and the Indian family has moved on.
With distinctive opinions, rising double-income marriages, lucrative career opportunities, flaring tempers and the need for space, the nuclear family is now the order of the day. The quintessential working Indian couple in the metro today scrabbles for time with crazy commutes, deadlines at work, taking care of their kids and managing their household chores. Given all these pressures, the last thing they want to deal with are compromises and interferences from other family members. The nuclear setup is fast becoming the next most ideal option, with the need for space being paramount.
While independence is a big take away from a nuclear family, it brings along with it a stream of other problems. Kids are left at day care or at the mercy of a maid while the parents are away at work. In a joint family setup, they’re looked after by a trusted family member, under whose supervision the children feel protected, loved and nurtured. When finances are on the downslide, there are always people to bail you out. But in a nuclear setup, your problems, whether financial or emotional, are yours alone. But then again, you win some and you lose some.
That said, with lives getting crazier by the minute, both set ups today strive hard to strike that perfect ‘happily ever after’ balance, which once upon a time was not such a big deal after all!
Picture on Flickr by Stuck in Customs