The joint family system is the traditional family system. This family system has been prevalent in India since ancient times. Under this system, the entire family—grandparents (paternal) and their male children with their families 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 net when financial difficulties, accidents or calamities arise. The family, as a single unit shares the load together till the storm of difficulties gets over. During times of difficulties, the family provides strong emotional support as it is always there to give patient hearing to the problems of all members. 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 with a warm heart.
“A happy family is, but an earlier heaven”, said George Bernard Shaw. But it seems, it is loosing its base in today’s time. 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 is achieved-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 realised that life is not all about keeping everyone happy. They have started caring about their own comfort too.
Women today are not merely housewives, they go out in the world to earn a living. They do not spend much time inside the house and thus the household chores are neglected. But in a single family unit, it is easier to tailor one’s chores to suit the needs and adjust the chores around the free time. In single family units, men also chip in to help in daily chores. Many married men have come to realise that in a single family unit, with both man and woman working, it is necessary to lend a helping hand to their wives.
However, with changing times, there is an emergence of extended family system. People have come to realise 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 maid comes in as well as the valuable advice which they give proves to be of immense help, as they have greater experience in life. Grandparents are the ones who teach kids the right conduct and good things about life and steer the life of children in proper direction. According to a popular Burmese proverb:
“In time of test, family is the best”.
An old fable too proved this proverb wherein an old-ailing farmer, on his death-bed, preaches his sons the importance of unity and living together. He uses wooden stick to show how one stick can be easily broken as compared to the bundle which was impossible to break. Lastly, with most families going the nuclear way, grandparents, in-laws, do stay along with the family as a single unit. The joint family system binds the members of the family in love and affection and teaches them to be tolerant towards other people’s mistakes, by developing the attitude of sharing with and caring for others.