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Parenting in a Joint family

A family is the safe space and a treasure trove of stimulus and learning opportunities for a child. Your child will probably learn more from absorbing everything you do and say, than what you teach them actively. This passive and observational learning is how children pick up social cues, understand how to react in situations and connect certain actions to emotions.

Indian society is one among many global communities that have a culture of joint families. With the advent of urbanization and an increasing number of people migrating in pursuit of opportunities, families are becoming increasingly nuclear. While many people are forced to, many others choose to build their own nest for their family and live separately. This choice is motivated by many circumstances, perceptions and preferences. Being in a joint family or being separate have their own effects on the development of the child.

In a joint family, a child is exposed to a rich source of information that is controlled and you can ensure your child learns the right behaviour. Keep in mind that a child can pick up disagreeable behaviour as well and controlling that within the household is difficult. A growing child needs constant attention and has boundless curiosity. Dedicating so much time to the child might not be possible for working parents. Most times, there will be someone willing to humour the child. When the household workload is shared, parents will also find more time to spare for their children. More often than not, children also find playmates in cousins from where the habits of sharing, empathy and emotional depth begin to formulate. Being amongst siblings and cousins though, might be a challenge to having one-on-one time with your kid. Exploring the world of extracurricular activities to find what your child is passionate about might also be difficult because a child’s attitude, outlook and interest change, based on whether the child is alone or with peers. Children also learn respect, co- operation and other values from the adults in the house. This can be a double edged sword though because there are certain ideals and values you might want to give your child that are far removed from what the other adults in the house think and it is easy for the child to get confused if contradictory lessons are received from people in the household.

The place a parent holds in the child’s eyes is also very different in a joint family as compared to a nuclear family. Although joint families have their own benefits, they aren’t the end all solution for all your parenting problems and might even open up a new can of worms for you to deal with. If you have the liberty of choice, do think of the repercussions it has on parenting and upbringing before you take the call. Happy parenting!