Being born and brought up in a bustling suburb of Mumbai, my child hood was a happy and peaceful one. The neighbourhood was very pleasant with lots of families and had about 90 percent Gujaratis(people from the state of Gujarat speak Gujarati language and are known as Gujaratis) . In this environment, a child would not be influenced by their parents only, there would be grandparents, uncles and aunties from maternal and paternal side, cousins, neighbours, school mates etc. Everybody knew everybody .
Day care/ Nurseries are always frowned upon if a child is sent there at a very young age. The minimum age would be about 2 years at least before the child starts at a nursery. Indians believe that it is the responsibility of the whole family (extended family ) to look after a child. Therefore, a child is always looked after all the members of the family. In the worst cast scenario, if nobody is available to look after the child there are always lot of friendly neighbours who would look after your child as their own. Of course, when the neighbour’s child would need to be looked after, you would have to help them as well. It is a two-way street in this regard. Is there any need for a daycare then?
Pampering The Child
The biggest con of this environment would be that the child would not remain under the control of their parents. Different people would teach different and even contradictory things. For example: a grandparent would offer a chocolate for a snack to a child perhaps to get the child out of their hair. But when the Mother offers a piece of fruit as snack the child would refuse to eat it and would demand for a chocolate instead!
Children Become Good Eaters
In joint Indian families, there are a lot of traditions. Even meals are traditional. A child is not given much choice- ” do you want to eat this?” or “do you like that?” Eat what you are given or go hungry! As hard and ruthless it sounds, it sometimes works as a child learns to eat more variety and will be a less fussy eater.
This would be an advantage in any culture. Children are very good at observing things. They would notice how all the members, including their parents look after each other. This would teach the child how to care and think of others, how to be considerate. Especially in the Indian culture, where it is a norm to touch feet(take blessings) of all elders. Children observe and learn. Children also understand the value and importance of human relations. It is my opinion that children should have the influence of people other than their parents and teachers.
Too Much Reliance on Others
Parents are overly reliant or shall I say they always expect someone else to look after their child when they are busy. Parents would never really be accustomed to instances where they have to take their child with them to the supermarket or to the bank or to the vegetable market.
You Will Get A Break When You Need It!
It is necessary for both Mothers and Fathers to take time out from their parental duties regularly. This can be easily achieved in a joint family without having to pay expensive babysitting fees. I do know grandparents from other cultures also help out with looking after their grandchildren but in joint Indian families it would be more convenient as they are all living together.
It Is Necessary To Understand Your Children
Due to the fact that there is always somebody available to look after or feed or play with your child, parents might feel lazy or might be habituated not to spend some alone time with their child/children. Due to this, parents may not able to understand their children. It is also possible that even though parents do want to spend time with their children, they might not be able to do so due to demands of a joint family life.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
In case you haven’t heard of the above phrase it means that like-minded people tend to follow each other. Similar thing tends to happen in Indian families. What is good for one child is good for the other as well. I have been guilty of that as well at times. Parents don’t tend to think for themselves whether it is the right thing or a right decision to take for their child. As long it is been done by somebody in the family – it is fine!
You Might Not Have A Say in Your Child’s Upbringing
In some traditional Indian families, parents might not have a say in their child’s upbringing. For example, in certain Indian castes it is believed that a child can only be given a name chosen by his/her aunt(Father’s sister) only. Parents would not be allowed to name their child. Any major decisions for the children are taken by the elders of the family (Grandparents and Uncles and Aunties on the Paternal side).
Education Is Very Essential
Indians believe that a child has to be academically inclined – there is no option about it . He/she can be good in other extra activities but he/she still needs to get top grades in school . Parents tend to be very competitive . They would want their child to achieve high grades even if it means to get extra tuitions for their child.
Every culture has different styles of upbringing. There are pros and cons for all of them. Each environment will bring different aspects to your child’s life. But finally the buck always stops at the parents- for both the success and failures of their children.
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