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Joint family makes a comeback PDF Print E-mail
(2 Votes)
Written by Times News Network   

Bangalore: From the cinema to the canvas, it’s been romanced by all forms of Indian art. Joint families were the best ad for the way we once lived. Over the years, the charm of this institution faded and it fragmented with modern societies veering towards smaller, single-family units.

In young, professional cities like Bangalore with its teeming young, migrant families with little familial support, ‘nuclear’ is the norm. Just when one thought that Sooraj Barjatya was the last to still sing paeans to the oldfashioned joint family in an urban setting, the joint family has made a roaring comeback.

In a recent poll conducted in major cities, 58% voted for the joint-family system working best for children.

At a time when economics holds the key to where and how we live rather than privacy and independence, there’s safety in numbers. In bigger cities like Bangalore, for various reasons — the foremost being finances — youngsters are no longer moving out of their parental homes. To rent at an affordable price, you have to go so deep into suburbia, you might as well be living in a different state. Couples, who built their own nests, are moving back with parents and in-laws once the baby comes along. Those without family bases in the city are reliving social trends of the 1980’s and 90’s when young NRIs flew out their parents from remote towns and villages to help take care of their million-dollar homes and children.

Joint families for children’s sake

Bangaloreans: More and more Bangaloreans are doing a U-turn and returning to the bosom of the joint family.

M R Usha, a gynaecologist, grew up in a nuclear family, parents and a lone sibling. Four years ago, she married into a humungous joint family and is thoroughly enjoying its benefits. “I go to work peacefully, knowing my child is well looked after by someone from the family and not a hired help. People who don’t have that luxury come to work worrying what to make for dinner, or if the needs of their child are taken care of,” she said.

Sowjanya Kashyap, who resides in the posh residential suburb of Koramangala with her husband, son and in-laws, says it’s a trend. “It’s not that everybody is now living in a joint family or has an elder person living in their homes, but a lot of couples with children are moving in with their folks or looking to the family for help. I see it with my friends and colleagues,” says Sowjanya, who holds a senior management position in the entertainment industry.

Sociologist S J Chandar pegs the trend on economics. “I’m of the opinion that the emergence of the nuclear family in a big way in Bangalore coincided with the IT boom, which saw a lot of people from outside move here,” he explained. “Now, more and more people are going back to the joint family system of living. Economics is playing a big part in families choosing to live together — rents are high and cost of living is high. There’s no actual data to substantiate the point, but we’re increasingly seeing extended families living together.”

While there are many pluses in living with extended family, for those who can’t get the balance right, it’s not quite Paradise Regained. A lack of privacy is only the beginning. Living in populated homes could mean loss of self-expression from everything ranging from the door bell to the kitchen. It means a tightrope walk in not stepping on people’s toes and coping with different temperaments. It could also mean, conforming in your dressing.

“The joys of living together are simple and many,” says Sapna Saundh, a housewife, residing by choice in a joint family, just off MG Road. “For instance, when you cook something, there are so many people who appreciate it. You have friends in your family, you don’t need to look outside. The best is that you have people to rely on. You’re not the only option all the time. All those positives, however, can work as negatives if you do not get along with the people you live with. That’s really the key. It takes some adjusting.”

Usha says her 3-year-old son is so happy in her in-laws’ place that he doesn’t like going to live with her parents because he has no company there. Sowjanya adds, “Grandparents bring in a whole new dimension to parenting.”


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