Families – Yesterday and Today

In the first four months of the year, we had two family gatherings. I guess, enough to make you nostalgic for the rest of the year, in case you do not have any such occasions lined up. It is wonderful to see men discussing politics over the morning cups of tea, ladies giggling over fashion talks and pulling each other’s leg and  children (siblings) planning to have  a blast. I don’t think anyone would ever want to miss the golden chance of celebrating the togetherness of the family and making it as memorable as possible.


Nowadays, we have the two concepts of nuclear families and joint families. Nuclear families have not only restructured the way families live and family members co-ordinate but also the living spaces of “modern” day world, the demographics of the business from household items to electronic gadgets. And I feel that economy is the only thing that has benefited from this societal change. Though many would vote for the merits of this change in our societal structure, I am not much of the same opinion. Nothing can be weighed against the absolute advantages or disadvantages but can always be determined on the basis of weighted average.

The joint families of the yesterdays had a number of people in the family including elders, kids, young and middle-aged. This would keep the atmosphere of the family balanced–elders to guide on issues, young, earning members to keep the cycles of livelihood moving and kids to neutralize the tension that would erupt at times. There were lesser cases of isolation, depression or marital feuds as time was distributed amongst other members of the family.  There was more efficient use of resources and avenues. It’s true that sharing of resources and time among all the family members and the need for privacy became one of the major causes of differences that led to the birth of nuclear families. But, this is also true that if we had kept our hearts open towards each other, the problem would never have arisen. We would not have devised terms like the first family and extended family.

Nuclear families, on the other hand, have ample resources for an individual. Seemingly, there is more independence. Also, it is easier to co-ordinate between the four members of a family; assuming the standard size of a nuclear family (mother, father and two kids and grandparents, in some cases). In terms of values, there is less potential to share and care, less of tolerance, and even lesser will to forgive. Self-respect becomes synonymous with ego. With the current trend of mushrooming MNCs (Multi National Companies) in bigger cities, children move to a new place leaving parents alone, back at home. Their absence creates a void in parents’ life. Also, little kids in a nuclear family are exposed to situations that they should not be.

Everything has its pros and cons. But here, I think a joint family weighs more in advantages, over a nuclear family. Being born and brought up in a nuclear family, I strongly feel the need for a joint family. With so many family members around, everything is good. The celebrations merrier, the sorrows less sorrowful, as it is said, “Happiness shared is happiness doubled and sorrow shared is sorrow halved.” You get everything in abundance–love, affection, joys, forgiveness and understanding, if not cars, television sets and computers!

Karanvir Gupta