The institution of joint family system-a blessing of bygone days
By Mushtaq Hurra
During the last four or five decades, world has changed and progressed by leaps and bounds. Man has conquered the moon and the stars, he has pierced the chest of the earth, and has established his rule over mighty oceans but the other side of the coin is very ugly. Values, morals and ethics have vanished from our lives. Humans are sans any humanity. Our valley which is very famous across the globe for its hospitality and rich ethos is not an exception to it.
Till yesterday, our ancestors used to live in joint families. Like many other distinctions, joint family system was an integral part of our living. There used to be parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins in our families, but now, the concept of nuclear families is emerging rapidly. Our younger generation is parting ways from its elders.
Joint family system is not all about living and eating together, and sharing a common house but it ensures the transmission of values from one generation to the other and the inculcation of virtues among children.
It teaches us to live harmoniously with others. Joint families are the sources of values and virtues. Parents and bread earners of joint families would remain busy in earning a livelihood and performing different domestic chores while grandparents and other elders in the family would take care of their children.
The values were imparted through different means like storytelling and the basic education was taught to children by their grandparents. The virtues like mutual help, tolerance, love, understanding and care were very common in our families. Moral values were transmitted from one generation to the next consciously and children would learn the basics of life without any formal education. That is why our elders were obedient and virtuous in their lives though they had never attended any formal educational institution. There was no space for the phenomena like ‘generation gap and communication gap.’
Spending time with grandparents was an ultimate source of joy and contentment for youngsters. The spirit of oneness was the binding force behind happy families. Any kind of partition or separation was considered to be an offense and sin.
But alas! The time has changed. Globalization and urbanization has snatched this centuries old legacy from us. Although the urban areas portray a dismal picture but the situation in our villages too is not encouraging enough. The glare and effulgence of modernization has shattered our homes. The emergence of ‘old age homes’ is an ugly blot on the face of the so-called modern societies where parents and elders are left at the mercy of God. Joint families are replaced by nuclear families.
According to surveys and observations, the children from nuclear families, possess several behavioral abnormalities in comparison to the children from joint families. Children brought up in joint families are more tolerant and lesser quarrelsome while as the children of nuclear families possess certain behavioral abnormalities.
What has forced us to abandon this great system of living together? Is it the success of happy families in real terms? No, not at all! People, who prefer to live in nuclear families, end up regretting their decisions. It deprives the children from the warmth of love, affection and sympathy which is essential for the development of a balanced personality in a child.
When a married man parts ways with his family, either at the behest of his better half or at his own will to provide better living standards and education to his own children. Though he succeeds with the first thing i.e , better living, like comfortable housing, good eating and clothing but fails miserably to impart good education.
He ends up by producing robots who know only how to make money, who San values and virtues, who care least about the well-being and respect of elders and their own parents. We have many examples in our own society where parents are abandoned by their children in their old age.
Our mantra of nuclear family is proving disastrous for ourselves and for our children. When children are supposed to be with their parents, at that crucial juncture, our own children abandon us because we as children have done the same with our parents in the name of nuclear families. Many parents died in their rooms unattended and their children were not to shoulder their coffins. They were either in USA, Uk or in any other country. Nuclear family concept is proving detrimental in destabilizing the social structure of contemporary societies. We should not sow thorn seeds and expect roses.
Here, the role of joint families comes to our rescue. When children watch their parents serving their own old parents with utmost care and love, the grandchildren watching all this, grow up as young men and women, full of values and virtues. Here, sermons are not needed rather they won’t work. People leading from the front set glaring examples before their children who are sure to serve their parents when grown up or when their parents will reach the oldage.Thus, values are transmitted in joint families not taught because mere lectures can’t enter the clean minds of children.
Children of many nuclear families become parasites who suck the blood of their parents because the appreciation of work is missing in nuclear families while as most of the children from join are hard workers who are taught the value and appreciation of work.Let us all take a pledge to live with our grandparents who bring lot of value to our families and teach us the best education at our homes. Thus, we can pay off to our elders and will reap big dividends in their company. Children from nuclear families fell prey to many ills because there is no one to keep a vigil on their activities while as the children from joint families live together with their elders, cousins and others. Thus, there is proper scrutinization in joint families while such scrutiny is missing in nuclear families.
Let us hope the institution of joint family system is revived and preserved to safeguard our newer generations from many un-noticed and noticed vices.
The writer is a teacher, columnist and a social activist. He can be reached at [email protected]