Indian Family Structure - Pros & Cons
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Apr 25, 2012
Family, they say is not a family till it has little people completing it, this idea may be open to debate but the fact that children are the central characters in the daily lives’ of most families is beyond doubt. We only need to see how marketers are targeting kids to sell otherwise grown up stuff (detergent, water purifier etc) to know how universal this truth is. Therefore families and children sustain each other, while a family without a child may be considered less than ideal, a child without a family is as far from ideal as can be!
While the importance of children in families has been an age old tradition in most cultures and continues to be so, the family structure itself has undergone some major changes in the last two decades or so, there was a time when the so called “joint family” was the norm, today, at least in urban India , it is the “unit family” that has taken over entirely. The complete domination of one over the other has been driven by socio-economic changes, of which India has undergone in the 2/3 decades, what other counties have taken hundreds of years to experience. Before we delve into the pros, cons, angles, dimensions and repercussions of the two sorts of family structures mentioned above, let’s first understand what they really are. A joint family would typically be a structure where elderly, retired matriarch and patriarch of the family live with and preside over many sons, their wives, their children and so on. It’s a structure usually comprising a large number of people. A Unit family, on the other hand is where a relatively young mother and father, live with their relatively young children. When the children grow up and leave nest, they in turn become relatively young parents living with their relatively young children in a ‘unit’ set-up again. Therefore the number of people in this structure would usually be quite small.
Then there are new permutations/combinations of family structures in the current times; single mother and child/children, single father and child/children, same sex parents and their children, single parent living with grand-parents and children and so on. I feel that it’s about time we officially include house-hold help as part of a family, here again the structure changes on whether there is just one person helping out at home, whether there is an entire family living in the out-house and contributing to the family’s daily comforts etc. Each structure is unique in its composition and can have pretty exclusive effects of a child’s growing up years.
I have seen some of these dynamics at play, in different families at different times. The truth is, not only do different structures affect children differently, they also effect adults in varied ways. I will dare to offer a few examples here: I know a single mother, who is bringing up her teenage daughter single handedly, their family is just the two of them. These two, in my opinion are the friendliest mother/daughter that I have ever seen. They are really buddies! While it’s terrific for the most part, it also has a slight negative. As the child really considers her mother a friend, when she doesn’t like what her mother says, she retaliates how she would to someone of her age! Their disagreements become cat fights and often in the presence of outsiders! Then again, there is another nuclear family where the father and the son have almost the same equation with the Mom, they have ‘issues’ (not Dad showing disapproval to the son) and do not sort any of those themselves, they complain to the mother, who often reprimands the dad in the same manner and in the presence of the child!
The sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking ramifications of the family structure are apparent in most households, let us explore this more in our next piece. In the meanwhile, please tell us what you think are the right combinations and how do you think can we achieve those?
| Jun 04, 2015
We live in a joint family. But in my honest opinion, each kind of family has its own ups and downs. There are pros and cons to each structure. For ex: in today's highly changing world, where even moms go to work, its easier if there is someone at home to take care of the kid - someone to call their own (not nannies). Also, on the other end of the spectrum, for elderly people, its hard to make them understand that working mothers have lot of pressure in the workplace to perform and sometimes would have to work late and stuff. In such cases, it sometimes feels easier to be living on your own and conforming to your own timings / lifestyle.