Family is the most common and everlasting foundations of mankind. In every society and behind every individual, there is some kind of family. There are different kinds of families all over the world however,a particular family system which is most prevalent in India deserves distinct consideration.
This system is called joint family or the extended family.
Joint Family is an arrangement wherein more than one generation live together in one household. It is quite common in India. Stereotypically it grows when all or most of the children, predominantly sons, get married and bring their partners to live with them under the same roof as their family.They eat food cooked in one kitchen&participate in sustenance the household.
It generally comprises of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. The emotion of intimacy and selflessness devotion is the foundation of a joint family.
Since the time immemorial, a joint family system has not only been instrumental in providing safety, financial support and recreation but also has developed and nourished the individuals by nurturing good qualities among the members. Some of the functions along with merits and demerits are listed below:
1. Financial function
- Merit – The major requirements of an individual – food and shelter is shared and brings down the unnecessary expenditure since large quantities of commodities are required which are secured at affordable prices. Earnings are pooled in a shared deposit. Collective accountability is bequeathed and individuals cultivate a notion of equality.
- Demerit–Since its collective accountability for all, some members tend to get lazy. Because they are aware that even if they do not put in maximum efforts, their basic requirements will still get fulfilled. They don’t feel the need of exerting themselves. This lack of initiative deteriorates the economic condition of the family.
2. Unity and Togetherness
- Merit– In times of crisis and happiness, all stand together. There is complete support of family members whenever needed. Children are not left alone at home while parents are at work, therefore safety is confirmed.
- Demerit–it is very difficult for a person to enjoy his privacy as all the family members are living together. There is a very limited space to live. Individuals do not get that much freedom as they require. Nothing can be hidden in a joint family.Spouses cannot interact in affectionate manner. The intimacy between couples is looked down upon.
3. Social virtues and vices
- Merit – An individual becomes more adaptable to other people and their nature. They learn kindness, compassion, mutual trust, self-control and cooperation living in joint families. Therefore, become more accepting of people not only at home but outside as well.Objectionable and anti-social inclinations are checked in time and the youngsters are barred from being unruly and insensitive.
- Demerit – Jealousy and lack of adjustment is also very common in people when they are living together.Personalities, opinions, degrees of understanding and interests are different therefore there are frequent disagreements among women and between younger and elder members.
4. Old age people
- Merit – The elder members of the family are well taken care of and they enjoy themselves in the company of kids and grand kids. Their lives are very comfortable due to availability of affection and being surrounded by family members most of the time.
- Demerit–They are not ready to accept changes and disrupt customs and traditions which the family is following for a long time.Generation gap disturbs the growth of the family and individual. Thus it propagates orthodox ideas and mindsets.
5. Division of labor
- Merit – Every person is the family is given work according to their capability. The female members divide and finish the work and spend the rest of the time relaxing at home.
- Demerit – The innocent member of the family is oppressed most of the time. He/she is loaded with more work.
6. Upbringing of children
- Merit – Joint family is an ideal place for the rearing of children. The older members inculcate the values and family traditions in children from beginning &generally prefer taking children out for strolls or holding them and playing with them.Generally, cousins do mostly all activities together. Study, play, eat, quarrel and get even getting punished.
- Demerit – Family members disagree strongly on choices of food and education leading to significant stress. The high earning members often want their children to study in expensive schools but don’t want to share the burden of the children of other members of the family who are not well off.
7. Customs and Traditions
- Merit – Customs and traditions are well preserved. The youngsters also seek guidance and directions of elder and utilize their experiences.
- Demerit – Since there is one head of family, he may organize weddings without taking the accord of the young people. He always feels marriages to have been liability on him and usually he arranges the nuptials hurriedly while the children are still very young. It leads to a substantial effect on the whole life of an individual both physically and psychologically.
8. Recreation & leisure
- Merit – The joint family setting is an ultimate place for recreation. It creates a motivating atmosphere through the combined effect of the chirping of children, the expression of love among siblings, the scolding of the elders and the amusing antics of the other family members. In this way it naturally acts as an authentic foundation of refreshment away from dullness and monotony.
- Demerit–Leg-pulling is very common. One person is made the bait and all the sarcasm revolves around him. It demoralizes an individual and can hamper his growth.
9. Social Insurance & security
- Merit – Social Security is ensured for orphans, widows, the deserted, divorced, separated, weak, aged, sick, the disabled and such other needy persons. It gives them food, shelter and protection. social safety
- Demerit–The weak and downtrodden are not given sufficient independence to express and to develop their character. Their feelings are hardly acknowledged. They are made to work like domestic helps. Women are treated as non-existent entities. They are only expected to obey even if they are not happy with the circumstances. Decision are enforced upon them.
10. Career & profession
- Merit – Women can leave their kids with their in-laws while they go to work. It ensures child safety and security. Also, if their income is very crucial for the family wellbeing, they are given the support in her career interests and work timings.
- Demerit– In some cases, the educational qualification of a woman doesn’t matter as generally they are expected to look after household chores. Also the elders wish to enjoy their life in worship and relaxing around and don’t want to burden themselves with full time care of kids.
Joint family can be run successfully if the members remain committed to each other with balanced feelings of kindness, charity, one-ness,high moral, character, and foresight.But at the same time due to work requirements people shift from their hometowns. In such case, it can be concluded that it is dependent on personal choice of individuals and also on factors like time, atmosphere and necessity.