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Bringing up a child in a nuclear family versus a joint family

Ever wondered why Sooraj Barjatiya’s movies in the 90’s were the biggest rage in our country? Or why Ekta Kapoor set her Company’s cash register’s ringing all through the last decade?  There was a singular underlying theme to their success – THE BIG INDIAN JOINT FAMILY! The system of a joint family has existed in India for decades now, and is perhaps unique to our country, or least its popularity is! However, this way of living is slowly depleting with modern day exposure and opportunities. So while the Indian joint family system was earlier considered the cornerstone of the Indian culture, it has been, reluctantly giving way to a new sort of familial structure – THE NUCLEAR FAMILY. In this blog we are exploring joint family and nuclear family structures, and how parents can leverage the best of both worlds in order to bring a wholesome child.

We are family – albeit with limitations!

We all wax eloquent about the important role that a family plays in raising a child into an individual that he/she will become tomorrow. We all know and acknowledge that families are the first and maybe the most crucial socializing unit in any person’s life. But can the kind of family, i.e. joint or nuclear really make an impact on the child’s learning, values and personality. Experts have reason to believe it can in fact, play a detrimental role. Both, joint and nuclear families do enjoy certain advantages but also have their limitations, therefore making it imperative for parents to adopt parenting techniques that work best with their child in both set ups and more importantly play it by the ear.

For instance, a child in a joint family is often blessed with a lot of love and affection and learns how to adjust very easily in different environments – indeed a reason for parents to be happy. However, he/she can get easily confused with the mixed messages that he/she receives on discipline from different members of the family. In such situations it is best to clarify what rules should apply as far as the child’s behavior is concerned with all household elders, so they too can follow the same rules, especially in your absence. While this can be difficult to implement immediately, it is worthwhile to talk about it with the family members and set the ball rolling.

In a nuclear family, on the other hand, a parent can easily imbibe qualities such as consistency in behavior and self reliance in a child, but this family set up also comes with its own share of baggage. In an era of unprecedented time-saving devices, we are busier than ever and less connected to one another. After all with both parents working, and a child’s school and extra curricular activities, where is the time to connect and imbibe the values that you wish to pass on to your child? In such a scenario a joint family can seem like a blessing! Grandparents and other senior members of the family can fill in that crucial gap and therefore reducing the special effort that parents would have to otherwise make.  Therefore, a weekend with the entire family or involving the grandparents in the day-to-day child care, if both parents are working, can do wonders in instilling the right value system and flexibility in your child.

At the end of the day, whether you live in a joint family or a nuclear one, you need to figure out where you need to involve your extended family members and where you need to deal with your child one-to-one. It would be wonderful to simply say that one family system works better for raising a wholesome child than the other. But the truth is that both family set ups can be equally rewarding or challenging, depending on how members of the family handle their relationship with the child and with each other. So which set up would you opt for, in order to raise a happy and wholesome child, a joint family or a nuclear one?

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