The joint family system is the traditional family system of India. This family system has been prevalent in India since ancient times. Under this system the entire family – grandparents (paternal) and their male children stay under a single roof. Each member of the family shares the household chores, thus the work is divided and the burden of the work is lessened.
The joint family system not only lessens the burden of housework, it is also a safety met when financial difficulties, accidents or calamities arise. The family, as a single unit shares the load together till the financial problems-die storm has passed over. During ‘times of difficulties, the family is also an emotional support system with each and every member contributing in same way or the other towards the establishment of emotional soundness of all its members. The family is always there to give a patient hearing to all the problems of a member. It does not matter whether these problems are significant or not. The important part is that all problems are heard out and advice, whenever necessary, is dispensed.
People today no longer prefer to live in the joint family system. Smaller family units provide the freedom to live life as one pleases and the privacy—both of which cannot be possible under the joint family system. In today’s world, people want to live life on their own terms. Women, especially, have realized that life is not all about keeping everyone happy, about living to the satisfaction of others without caring about one’s own comfort. Education has brought about an awareness, women today are not merely housewives, they go out into the world to earn a living. They do not spend much time inside the house and the household chores are neglected thus. But in a single family unit, it is easier to adjust one’s chores to suit one’s needs, to tailor the chores around the free time available. In single family units, the men also chip in to help with various chores. Many married men have come to realize that in a single family unit, with both people working, it is necessary that he lends a helping hand to his wife. This would not have been possible in the joint family system.
However, the joint family system has not sung its swan song yet. With the changing times, people have come to realize that the grandparents can be of great help in single family units. Selfish though this motive may seem, grandparents can be of help when both parents are away at work. Taking care of children, bringing them back from school, seeing to their homework, being around when the mid-wife comes in as well as the valuable advice which they can give, as they have greater experience in life.
With most families going die nuclear way, grandparents, in-laws, do stay along with the family as a single unit. This system has its own merits and demerits. How one views die joint family system is one’s personal outlook. No matter how one chooses to live, the experiences of others are always beneficial, that we may not repeat die same mistakes. The joint family system teaches us to be tolerant towards other people’s mistakes and teach us to share with and care for others.