It is often said that the present young generation has no strong sense of familial bonding. In the past, when the joint family system was common, relationships between members of the family were a lot stronger and smoother.
Today, a nuclear family or a single-parent family is the way of life, and it is generally believed that the family bonds are not fostered and nurtured in this kind of setup. I do not think anyone will question the importance of a well-knit family.
In a joint family there was a good mix of hierarchy of age, experience and a power structure; grandparents practised and taught values, ethics, life skills, and even basics about etiquette. Family values were established and cherished, there was a give and take relationship, and love and affection filled the atmosphere.
“Only the family, a society’s smallest unit, can change and yet maintain enough continuity to rear children who will not be ‘strangers in a strange land’, who will be rooted firmly enough to grow and adapt.” said Salvador Minuchin in Families & Family Therapy.
In modern days, people have difficulty finding a balance between work and family. The impact of this is felt not only by the individuals involved but by all family members, particularly children.
Children, especially in their formative years, need a lot of care, attention and guidance. In a nuclear family both parents usually work, either to make ends meet or to avail luxuries that life offers, so they find little time to pay attention to their children. They come home so tired that they would rather rest — it’s worse for the mother as she has to cook dinner after her day’s hard work.
But it was different in the past. Even if both parents were working, the kids had their grandparents or other relatives who would embrace them, take care of their little problems, settle fights and provide solace. Through stories and personal anecdotes the young were taught moral values.
The elders lived the values and the children emulated them.
More often than not, elders could free children from external influences through their exemplary behaviour.
Interestingly enough, as they grew up, children took care of their elderly relatives with warmth and affection.
“In the family, happiness is in the ratio in which each is serving others, seeking one another’s good, and bearing one another’s burden.” — Henry Ward Beecher, American Congregationalist clergyman and social reformer.
United we stand, divided we fall.
When there is a crisis a united family is better-equipped to get over it easily. It is because liabilities are shared just as joy is. The members of the family join together and find a way out. They do not hesitate to do their bit or share their resources to help the family to solve the crisis.
It is not that these families are without differences of opinion or feuds. But they are able to solve those by open communication.
Although their communication is open and straightforward, they make sure that it is polite and respectful. A blame-game is avoided.
The problem is attacked instead of attacking individuals. It is possible because they trust and love each other. This has been the foundation of all strong and close families.
When a family is nurtured by love and affection, the society is benefited. It is more like a chain reaction.
“Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to this country and to mankind is to bring up a family.” – Bernard Shaw.