‘Hum do, humare do‘ – this idea has been taken too literally by today’s generation. We, the millennials, are generally blamed for not being very open to the concept of a joint family (for the uninitiated, this refers to a family arrangement wherein members of several generations live together under one roof). Although living with parents until marriage or even after marriage is very common in India, more and more millennials are moving out and setting up on their own, with plans of having a nuclear family (comprising a couple and their children). So, why the shift in mindset?
Times have changed, of course, and you can’t possibly compare today’s families to those of the 80s and 90s with 20, sometimes even 25 people living in one household! Let’s not forget the difference between the social and financial scenarios then and now. As young businessman Ritesh Goyal rightly points out, “Sustaining two or three families under the same roof in today’s circumstances is tough. Cities don’t have that space where so many people can reside together, while villages don’t have the infrastructure.” Moreover, he believes that millennials “want their independence and want to live in no-answering mode. The next generation might also not be too comfortable living with parents.”
I remember a friend from school days who used to live in a house with 20 odd people. Whenever I visited the house, it always looked like ‘shaadi wala ghar‘ with so many people flitting around, the kitchen always open and the banter, of course. But, there was a charm attached to it all. There was a feeling of oneness–the family bond was clearly visible and it looked like so much fun. The house with almost 15-16 rooms wasn’t good enough once my friend’s siblings and cousins started getting married. It gave rise to space issues and I suppose, relationship issues too. Who is accountable for it? The housemates? Or the circumstances?
Nuclear Plus Elders
Millennial couples living in a nuclear setup often have parents who are well into their 60s. If your parents are seniors, it is your responsibility to look after them and have them live with you. You’re still going to enjoy the benefits of a nuclear family while having your loved ones close, who in turn, will love and care for your children unconditionally.
So Who Wins?
The concept of a joint family is good for growing up confidently, in a protective environment and with life lessons from the old and wise that you obviously won’t get in a nuclear family. Then there are some of us who truly believe in living independently and learning from our own mistakes. As Khushboo Aren, a Noida-based school teacher puts it, “I have grown up in a joint family. I’m taught to not indulge in matters outside of personal interest. However, my younger sister didn’t experience the joint family atmosphere much, as my parents moved out by then. Living in a nuclear family kept her away from the petty fights of a joint family. Also, she has become more independent and confident.”
At the same time, she gives us a heartwarming insight into a typical joint family too as she mentions, “Being the youngest, I was the most pampered one. I got a lot of attention, care and love. Joint families have their own distinguished charm. I learnt to share my things too.”
It seems like most millennials would prefer a nuclear family in today’s day and age; takers of joint family are few. In times when even the husband demands privacy from his wife at some point (and vice versa), the concept of joint family seems obsolete. Then there are other factors such as space constraint. And let’s not forget the clashes and difference of opinions–try putting cousins, aunts and uncles in front of one TV and watch all the drama over the remote control!
Millennials are not lazy, in fact, we’re hard-working, busy people and we surely need our own space at the end of a long day. Sure, we miss the fun and games, the gossip and togetherness that comes with a joint family. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice and a tough one at that! Whatever family format you choose to adopt, just make sure it’s full of love.