Joint families, especially during the generation of our grandparents were considered to be a norm in Indian society, as it would help to nurture and inculcate family values and ‘Indian traditions’ amongst the younger members of the household.
However, a user took to Twitter recently and opined that joint families fail to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for the children in the family. The tweet brought to light the complexities and drama that come with joint families and many users shared similar experiences.
“The Joint Family System is probably the most hostile environment you can provide to your children. There is absolutely no use of family values when your children grow up having traumas of witnessing petty family feuds, unnecessary destructive criticism resulting in impaired cognition”, the tweet read.
Tweet About Joint Families sparks social media debate
Most of the women in the comments agreed with the opinion and expressed how Indian families don’t understand the concept of maintaining healthy boundaries and want the family members to develop ‘tolerance’ for each other, no matter what kind of toll it is taking on their mental health.
“Local desi family culture has perpetuated mental health destruction at the widest level. But more frustrating is to see elders are yet not ready to accept the hooligans they have become in the name of culture and family values” a user expressed.
Majority of the Indians support the concept of joint families as, according to them it embodies the ‘family values’ preached in our culture. However, undoubtedly, living in a joint family can be an emotionally draining task and might take a toll on the mental and physical health of many if a safe space and healthy boundaries are not created.
How Media Glorifies Joint Families
Bollywood movies tend to paint joint families in a positive light. Director Sooraj Barjatya, infact, created a genre of his own- sukhi Indian parivarik films- that showcased how fun (only for men, because women were mostly found in the kitchen) growing up in a joint family could be. These films romanticised gendered duties- women are always shown cooking and serving food to men. They also emphasised that families can overcome minor tiffs and eventually love and values conquer greed and differences. But is that truly how it works in Indian families?
Joint families means joint headaches
Usually such romanticised takes on joint setups are devoid of female voices. Ask women who actually have lived in big Indian families and they’ll tell you how independence and free will are a myth, especially for their gender. Most members feel pressured into keeping everyone happy and thus have to sacrifice their personal happiness. Also, every family member feels entitled to policing lives of others. Which subject will a child pursue, what will be cooked for dinner and by whom, a couple’s holiday with their children- all are a family matter, not an individual choice.
Families can be a person’s biggest support system and help them perform well in life, but then do we live in an ideal world? Are our relatives perfect? The answer is no. And that’s why joint families often scar people and create a hositle environment instead of a happy one.
The fault doesn’t lie in joint setups, it lies with society’s obsession with norms and its entitlement to police others. Joint families can truly bring one happiness, but only when all the individuals in this ecosystem get to enjoy a degree of freedom.