The controversy over growing up in a joint family versus a nuclear family is an incessant one, and there is no right or wrong side to it. When considering the best way to raise a toddler, the ultimate decision lies with the parents. There is no linear answer as to which type of family would be better for your child.
One can agree that parenting is never easy, and being in a joint family or a nuclear family doesn’t significantly make things easier. Despite all the odds, joint families can provide kids with their much-needed space and respect for privacy, whereas nuclear families can be as engaging and nurturing as the other.
If we consider values of the 21st century, families are no longer limited to your blood relations. Families spring from the most atypical connections and form life-lasting bonds. In such a situation, it becomes imperative to consider how your home environment could affect your child’s development. From a diplomatic stance, both joint families and nuclear families have their virtues and vices.
Many scholars believe that with economic growth, urbanisation, trends in education and cultural changes, the joint family system has begun to disintegrate. However, contrary to predictions, nuclear families have only increased modestly.
The media has painted a rosy and auspicious picture of joint families with images of compassion, encouragement, hope, love and empathy. If these values are found to be true, then it is hard to resist bringing up your child in a joint family. Research has shown that bringing up your children in joint family settings provides a learning environment for interpersonal skills such as sharing, adjustment, cooperation and patience. Further, children who grow up in joint families are likely to be more socially adaptive and responsive in their formative years.
These values are common in a joint-family setup. A joint family is characterised as having a lot of people, and a house full of people is a house full of conflicts. Therefore, children living in joint families learn how to adjust and prevent conflicts.
Living in a joint family eliminates the need for daycare and babysitters. This does make parenting smoother. As a parent, you won’t have to worry about who is taking care of your child while you are away. Your child will never be alone at home; instead, they would be taken care of with love and warmth, and will be in safe hands. You will also get more time to live your own life, socialise with your friends, pursue your hobbies, etc., without constantly worrying about your child.
No one can deny that joint families provide an impeccably supportive home setting for children. In an ideal world, a joint family is a healthy institution for your child to grow up in. When a child has a loving and protective family to come home to every day, life becomes worth it. In this sense, a joint family can be seen as a safe nest with endless possibilities of growth.
Research has shown that children growing up in joint families are less likely to suffer from feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, isolation, etc. Children can seek help from anyone in the family. Additionally, children learn how to respect relationships and develop strong morals by observing members of other generations.
In traditional sense, independence could mean loneliness. But values of the 21st century are different. Independence is anything but being lonely or isolated. Independence is a positive trait that all children should grow up with. It is a way of life, it is the strength that helps you wake up each morning and steer your life in the direction you want. Children raised in joint families are more pampered and often lose their sense of independence. On the other hand, children in nuclear families are more individualistic and affirmative. These children learn to take charge of their future and become self-aware.
If you come from a particularly conservative family governed by conformist morals, you should consider raising your children in a nuclear family. The upcoming generation is poles apart from the previous generation, and this difference in morals could manifest into a toxic household. With changing times and globalised values, parents should raise their kids without accepting unsolicited opinions and judgement from family members.
Raising a child in the 21st century is different from raising one in the 20th century. Therefore, instead of listening to your relatives, inculcate your personal morals into your child. Teach them to develop an open mind, and be accepting, tolerant and empathetic of others.
The illusion of a happy and functional joint family falls to dust when it meets reality. Of course, no family is perfect and in most cases, joint families (especially in South Asian countries) tend to be autocratic and overbearing. This is not a stimulating environment for a child to grow up in. Children in joint families often have very little space and privacy. As a result, they lose their self-identity. If your parenting style encourages you to raise your child with unrestricted potential, then try to steer away from the joint family setting.
Communication in nuclear families takes place in a much smoother fashion with fewer obstacles. Children grow up confiding in their parents, which cements a close bond between them. Besides, a nuclear family setting provides more opportunities to parents to have undisturbed one-on-one sessions with their kids.
Nuclear families, and even single-parent households, allow uninhibited self-expression, improved communication skills and unhindered self-growth. And these are exactly the values a child should have in today’s world.
Raising a child in either of the family settings comes with its own pros and cons. Thus, there is no right or wrong answer here. Every parent wants the best for their children and choosing which family you want to raise your child in depends on your personal preference and circumstances.