The global joint family

The joint family is dead. Long live the joint family!

But who wants to live in a joint family, even if it is just the parents of one of the spouses living with their children? But folks, that’s the conventional joint family where the inmates share a roof. We are talking here of the global joint family, where the family lives under different roofs – in the same building/housing society/colony/city/country/world. It is as near perfect as possible.

  • Geeta lives in the US, her parents in Hyderabad. Her husband’s parents live in Pune, where they own a sprawling house. They come to India at least once a year and spend some time with them. The parents visit their children and grandchildren in the US too when they can.
  • Hemant lives two blocks down the road from his parents’ apartment. The elders visit them sometimes and the young couple comes over whenever they can. A couple of hours, sometimes more, sometimes less is spent in happy togetherness.
  • There is this family with two sons. They have three flats in the same building and eat their dinner together with the parents. The daughters-in-law help in the food.
  • Siya and her husband drop their toddler off at her parents’ home nearby. The couple have hired a full time maid at their place who she also helps her mother with other chores.

Joint families all, but not so joined. They share their hearts and love, but not the roof. It works perfectly – well, most of the time. Whoever said that the joint family is dead and will never work should look at these arrangements.

Note: This has become a long post, mainly because I wanted to close the topic of joint families in this one before going on to other issues, but do read it fully as I have tried to cover as many points as possible here as viewed from both sides.

This new global joint family seems to be working for both elders and youngsters. Perhaps, like the large joint family of yore, the global joint family will also slowly vanish in a couple of generations. But for now, it is well and thriving at least in upper middle class homes where money is not an issue and running two households is not a problem.

Everything is hunky dory till the parents are relatively ‘younger’ that is in their 60s and early 70s. It is when they get older that the problems begin. Considering that the exodus to metros and foreign shores began in the 70s and 80s, my generation and one before us are in focus. Living far away, the youngsters worry especially if one of the parents has passed on. And so the pressure begins to mount – from family and friends, and from their own sense of being responsible for their parents in their old age.

Sundar, an only son who lives in the US, has an 83-yr-old mother living alone back in Chennai. He has been literally begging her to come over as healthcare is excellent there but without success.

Like Sundar, there are many young people and even those in their 40s and 50s who would like to have their parents live with them. Some elders give in, others have their way. Take the case of another couple, a younger one. Venu- Varsha relocated to India when Venu’s mother passed away as the father found it difficult to shuttle between Bangalore and US. It helped that the girl’s comes from Chennai to take care of the grandchildren when needed. Still others change the cities they work in within the country, to be closer to their parents.

Increasingly a large number of elders show a preference for living by themselves but participating in their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. This is in sharp contrast to the times when it was the younger generation that wanted to leave the nest to set up their own homes. Of course, this excludes those elders who are either unwilling or are not financially, physically and emotionally equipped to live alone and so want a joint family set-up.  There is a demographic divide here. This is not to generalize, but it would seem that in the north it is the son’s parents who foist themselves on the younger generation, but in the south, increasingly more parents of daughters deem it fit to live with them. I would go as far as to say that it is creating a reverse trend with girls sometimes asking the boys, ‘So what do you plan to do with the excess baggage after marriage?’

Sometimes the Shakunis and Mantharas of society try to create doubts and hatred in the minds of the one or the other generation living together in either a conventional or global joint family. I remember a young woman claiming to find it comforting to live in one where she was a stay-at-home-mom.  She had no problems with the division of labour as she managed the house with her mother-in-law and the other daughter-in-law went to work to supplement the income. However I was appalled at the comments which simply castigated her for being a doormat and being taken for granted and how the MIL and other DIL were using her! This even when all money earned by various members were pooled together and divided equitably! Needless to say, such advice is being given to countless women both young and old in our society creating rifts in families where there was none.

If the arrangement works for you, just go along with it, never mind what the society, relatives, friends and the virtual world would have you believe to the contrary. But most of all, forego guilt, unless the elders have been abandoned — in which case anyway there won’t be any guilt!

Barring a couple of comments by Grond aka Harshal and Anuradha who have pointed out the plus points of a joint family in today’s world, and Varsha giving the benefit of doubt to it having never lived in one, both young and old have batted for nuclear families.

While the young want nuclear families citing the ‘fast paced, stressful’ life they lead, there are as many shades of grey in the reasons that elders have, as in the hairs of their heads.

Sundar’s mother for instance would love to live with her son, but is reluctant to give up the community she has built around her life. ‘What will I do there, confined to the house with no friends and social life?’ she asks. Sundar worries about her all the time, but is not in a position to relocate to India.

There are others who would like to have the independence that is born out of living by themselves. As a woman from the younger generation pointed out, ‘When my mother lives with me or my brother, she is living by the routines of our households, whereas in her own home, she is free to live by hers.’ This elder has lost her husband recently and wants to live in her house, which is about 25 kms away from her son and daughter.

This brings us to the point about personal space and ownership. Much like in the animal kingdom, humans have their territorial rights but being endowed with the sixth sense and emotions, they extend the territorial rights to other humans as well and here is where tension and conflict starts. So unless the elders are firmly set in the vanaprastha path, they would be tossed on an emotional sea, sometimes being buffeted and at others, affecting the youngsters’ lives.

Here come the mama’s boys and papa’s girls. Oh yes, the latter might be considered ‘cute’  and ‘aaww’ in comparison to the former, but can create as many problems in the lives of their children. A case in point is the latest movie Piku, where she is not getting married because she feels that the children have to take care of their parents ‘like babies,’ and he being difficult, she wouldn’t find anyone taking on the responsibility.

In joint families of earlier days and even today, the head of the family, often the father, held absolute control over property/work/business/trade and the mother ruled the household. The sons and daughters-in-law functioned under them. Many cases of elders abusing their daughters-in-law and being a bother to their daughters perhaps fall in this category, though I have no stats to back my statement.

Where the elders live with their children in their homes, the power base often shifts to the latter. With no tangible authority or ownership and with little or no say in matters of the household, the elders begin using other methods to assert their power. This can be anything from nagging, making unreasonable demands, complaining, interfering, hypochondria and/or depression all of which can be as intimidating and disturbing as the overt exercise of power by the elders. Again I would cite the case of cantankerous elder in Piku, as the movie seems to have become the flavour of the season.

(I plan to review some movies of Bollywood that deal with these issues in one of the later posts)

This is not to say that all elders are aggressors. There are some who are browbeaten by their children. Some use emotional blackmail to extract both property and physical work from them, in return for the security of staying with them and their children. Oh yes, grandchildren are used as pawns in this sinister game of blackmail. Some even go to the extent of driving the elders out after taking their property. Hard as it may be to believe that there are Indian parents who, even after funding their children’s expensive higher education actually give up their property if they have any left and live a miserable life as complete dependents.

The fear of abandonment and loneliness are real in many an elder’s mind, to avoid which they would go to any extent and placate their children.

There is this lady I know, who complains about how she is doing more work in her son’s home, than she has ever done even living in a joint family. She had sold off her ancestral home when her husband passed on. ‘I couldn’t live alone. I hate it when the house is empty.’ Now, I am sure she must have conveyed the message to her children who took it as her willingness to be their caretaker and are loading her with responsibilities and physical work. If only she had made it clear at the outset that she would help out, but not be the ‘working head’ of the family, she might have been able to maintain a semblance of balance and wouldn’t have been taken for granted. Who is to be blamed in this case?

The globe-trotting caretakers are also part of this section of exploited elders. They are forever on the move – to help in the delivery and then care of their daughters and daughters-in-law and then babysit for them. When they can, the elder couple travels together, but often they are separated for months with the husband fending for himself. Some of the comments surprisingly by the younger generation, in earlier posts specifically mention this fact with some bitterness.

Other than the extremes of abusers in both generations, one can see that often it is just the insensitivity of one generation towards the other that is the cause of small and big friction in day to day life in a joint family, global or conventional.

Read the earlier posts in this series here and here.

Homepage image courtesy: www.youtube.com

Coming next….

Are old age homes the solution?

39 comments

  1. […] The Global Joint Family […]

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  2. […] read the first, second and third parts […]

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  3. We definitely can be listed as family 1 of the examples you set out at the beginning of the post. Now that our parents are older, the main reasons they visit us, however, is to take a break from their routines and have some quality time with their grandkids and us. As parents, we assume the main responsibilities of the house and taking care of the kids, though I do give the kitchen up to my mom and MIL, just because they enjoy cooking!
    I’m much happier with this independently living together for some time thing than an uncomfortable dependent living!

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    1. Most youngsters and many of my generation prefer this kind of loosely jointed families, Roshni! All is well as long as they are mobile and the kind of support system they have in place where they live. One has to plan for eventualities and the time when one will be surviving the other. That is what I have discussed in the next post. Of course, as Rachna has said, I have not given any solutions since family dynamics differ from each other, even among the siblings of the elders. So there is no one solution fits all 🙂 Incidentally, I like the ‘no tensions’ cooking at my kids’ place too 🙂

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  4. Found In Folsom · · Reply

    This is not a long post actually. I donno. may be because I half read it before and re-read it again. We will discuss 🙂

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    1. Discuss? when? Not here?

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  5. grondmaster · · Reply

    I’m not sure if this can be called a perfectly balanced post. On one hand you have done well in listing out the different types of ‘joint families’ (I’ll get to the nomenclature in a bit) as well as list out the negatives of these arrangements, but there is no proper listing of the benefits of these arrangements! The few that you have listed out seem to be sarcastic, side effects, or just “by-the-by that too happens” types of benefits!

    If it were a rant, I’d understand the logic behind the post. You have listed my comment in the first post of this series as an example of an exception to the norm: I’m thankful that of the different scenarios listed above, and of more such arrangements I have seen, I have seen them happen with pure goodwill and joy within the family members. There happens to be no ill-will amongst the different generations, expectations are clear, and everyone is happy in their own way.

    Not defining what positives – especially the one of ‘space’ that each generation is able to give the other – such arrangements bring is a loss for the objectivity this post could have really had.

    On to the nomenclature – I wouldn’t call such arrangements ‘joint families’* (*Conditions Apply) at all. I’d rather call them linked families – nuclear families that are linked together with chains stronger than the ones generic nuclear families have.

    Each family is dysfunctional in its own way. If they realise this, they will come up with answers and solutions to all age old issues, and resolve them with peace, or you will find some issue or the other always holding centre stage, no solution in sight.

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    1. Thanks for this insightful comment, Harshal. To first reply your point about the post not listing out the benefits of this global joint family (pardon me, I would still call this a joint family of the times though your term of ‘linked families describes it literally), I have not listed them but given examples of actual cases that I know of, where the arrangements seem to be working fine. That said, I also agree about every family coming up with its own solutions to the problems it faces, which is what I have reiterated when I said that one should go ahead with what one deems fit in the circumstances and not be burdened by guilt or swayed by the mishcievous elements in one’s circle of friends and relatives. What I have tried to do in this post is to see this type of arrangement in a positive light, instead of the other way round, but have also included some negatives as in the case of exploitation by either generation in a conventional joint family or the plight of many global caretakers in this new set up. If I have not listed the benefits per se of the old set up, it is not to discount the benefits, but because they are insignificant. The entire focus of the post in fact is to emphasise the space aspect without actually mentioning it. I admit to the lapse and will add it in the already long post 🙂 Having said that, I should also mention that the conventional extended and joint families thrive in certain sections of the society, both in the north and the south. One of them is the business community. I remember a cousin saying that her friends from this community point out how the Tambrahms lay so much stress on professional courses and the need to make a lot of money which has destroyed the family system in that community. By contrast, they point out how in their own they keep the family together, setting up at least a petty shop for the members so that they remain together and close to each other. I think there is a lot of truth in this observation.

      And yes, where people and emotions are involved, especially if it is the immediate family, there are bound to be a lot problems that seemingly have no solution, but still such families function, don’t they? I think you perhaps referred to my Piku remarks while calling them sarcastic. I would leave the discussion for the post on the films dealing with the issue of elder care and joint families 🙂

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      1. grondmaster · · Reply

        The part of the post that I have an issue with is that you have not listed the benefits of the current system – and as you explained, just examples of where it is working by just hanging on a thread.

        Those of my friends who seem to be pedantic about using English and grammar in their correct form have their annual outbursts about the gentrification of the English language every time Oxford announces the set of new words to be added to their Dictionary. When words like selfie & twerking keep getting added, you know that we are headed towards a downfall of the language.

        I don’t think so. English – and all other languages at that – flow with the times which ensures that the current societal and cultural mores are reflected in them properly. Which means this: that if language – the very foundation required to communicate – can flow with the times, why can’t we?

        Current requirements of the global village, the ideas of freedom & personal space, have given rise to new constructs in familial structures. One may crib about it as much as one would want, but society itself is moving on. It is upon oneself to be able to move in sync to live a fruitful and joyous life – it doesn’t mean devaluing the past, just that we’re able to utilise what is available to us now, to our fullest.

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  6. It’s quite an eye opener but to be more practical, the revised version of global joint family works, living in different house but be in touch. It should be balanced I agree with respect for parents but also for the children in quest for independence.After all, a decent home offering dignified facilities should be welcomed and Govt appointing officers, read psychologists and Doc to visit elders who live alone.

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    1. It does work Vishal, but only in the upper strata of society where families can afford multiple households. and yes, it is always best to look at the positives when society changes in so many ways. While we should not condone elder abuse for instance, living apart and giving them the respect and space are not bad at all. Decent homes offering good facilities exist but at an exorbitant price. Government doesn’t have elders in its list of priorities now and not likely to have it in the foreseeable future either.

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  7. A long but detailed post covering almost all of the situations seen around. As you mentioned the best way is to do what you feel is right rather than going by friends, family, society or social media. Elders are indeed afraid of the thought of being alone. The younger generation is busy with the rat race and responsibilities of a family. But there is always a middle path. It is important to keep in mind that situations can be sorted out without getting into extremes. It depends on both the generations to reach out to a mutually agreed and fit-for-most kind of arrangement. If we sit down and begin the blame game, there is no end to it. We should rather prefer to use my time more productively. And our elders know us. It just takes a few minutes of heartfelt communication to share our problems, listen to their problems and find out a solution that’s best for all. The Shakunis and Mantaras must most definitely be kept away for the benefit of all. They’re only there to create cracks in relationships.

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    1. Yes, Rekha. It is important to do what is right by your situation, but it should also not ignore or hurt elders in any way. Every family is dysfunctional as Grond has pointed out and it is for the individual family to come to some arrangement that works for them. When there is underlying respect for each other, things work out perfectly. And oh, remember to keep away the Shakunis and Mantharas too 😀

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  8. Our complex also has got people who have got 2 or 3 flats. The couple are single children to their parents. So, they live in one flat and one set of parents in another and another set of parents in another. This was the agreement soon after marriage, both of them should take care of both the parents! This is working well with tiny frictions.

    Now my grand niece is getting married. Both she and her fiance live abroad. They are planning to work there for another 10-15 years, earn well and come back to India to take care of both parents. Who said youngsters are not responsible. Yes, every person, older or younger is different.

    Nowadays, we have got people running mess and supply food to elderly members. Many are there who cook homely food, without much oil. People who are too old to cook order food from them. I feel and most of these people also feel that this arrangement is better than going and staying in an old age home. Yes, they might live comfortably but their children should ‘take time’ to visit them. This way, they are nearby and help each other…the grand children are the biggest attraction for the grand parents.

    In whichever way they live, both generations need lot of tolerance level, understanding with each other. Otherwise, the whole relationship is gone.

    Well…you have covered all the points here and now will wait for the next post on ‘old age’ homes!

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    1. I am sure I must have missed some points, Sandhya! Do fill them in please if you can think of some. As I pointed out, this global family applies to the well-off amongst us. Those with single incomes and those who have spent their life’s savings on education and weddings would not fit into this. Even I have many friends and relatives living like you have said. One of my aunts (uncle is no more)lives with her four sons and one daughter all living in a 2 km radius. She goes from one family to another constantly and enjoys her time with all her children and grandchildren. There is at least one celebration if not more every month and all come together. It is a joy to watch that family. As you have said, even in long distance relationships a lot of understanding and tolerance is needed.

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  9. Amit Agarwal · · Reply

    A great post indeed! Loved each word of it!!

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    1. Thank you Amit, for reading and liking 🙂

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  10. Problems crop up even with financially well of family too..because today.s generation has no patience..in our time elders exploited they younger ones, today youngers are doing that..

    Nothing can solve the problem untill we learn to be compassionate and value family..

    Whereas today’s girls have become very conscientious about looking after their parents, being the son to their parents, its them only who are making life miserable for their inlaws..infact they dont let the sons be the son.

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    1. Things sometimes come a full circle and this is one of them, Renu. Unfortunately the society never gets reformed by doing tit for tat. The argument often is, ‘The parents of girls have suffered for so long. Let the other set of parents feel the pinch!’ as if that would correct the wrongs done earlier. Also, while it is common in the south for girls to be the ‘sons’ it is still not that way in the north where the parents of the sons enjoy the benefits of living in a joint family and being cared for by their sons. Ultimately it is about who holds power that decides the aggressor-victim equation, whether it is the younger or older generation.

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  11. Hema Subramanian · · Reply

    Global family works out to be the solution that would be feisable for now. But how does one figure out the logistics for members of the family living in different continents!What would be the solution if the parent is old and is not able to manage on his or her own? Then they need to move in with the child who is ready to take them in braving personal circumstances. Which leads to the question of the dignity of the parent, he or she who has maintained and lived their lives on their own terms and has maintained their Independance becomes quite helpless having to toe the line at such an advanced age! Thus adding sadness and depression to failing health! Really looking forward to your article on old age homes and if that is actually a bane or a boon!

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    1. This is precisely what the post about old age homes as applicable to our country will try to tackle. From the responses to this and earlier posts, it is very obvious that it is seen as a THE ultimate solution to the problems of elder care. Is it true? If so, how far is it true? Things can become very difficult for the family that cares for an elder in an advanced age but it is just as bad for the elder as you have pointed out. Let’s see how the next post turns out 🙂

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  12. Balanced write up.Your post has brought out the problem in myriad ways.Joint family system is al most gone.The scenario is vastly different with people moving to cities in search of job and small accommodation to live.People should save money for old age.They should give up the expectation to be looked after.I envisage more senior homes and hospices to come in every nook and corner.Money alone can buy comfort.
    I have seen people abroad take it in their stride and parents hardly stay with children and meet on mothers day or fathers day or Christmas.There is no regret.or emotional attachments.
    I hope you will cover the pathetic conditions of senior homes in some places that are run purely on commercial considerations without a sense of service.

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    1. I completely agree that there should be no expectations on the part of parents to be cared for by their children. But comparing with parents in the west is not something I will agree with. In those countries, children are taken care of till they become legal adults. After that they are on their own, with not all parents supporting them in their higher education. In fact one hears of the high cost of higher education and how youngsters start working and then take their college with money saved or through scholarships. Do we do that? And we are not just talking about the upper crust of the society here, though this post is aimed at that segment mostly. There are so many middle class parents who give up their own comfort for their children and then are left high and dry by the children. I remember Suresh mentioning this point in his comment on my first post in the series.

      Ah, old age homes and hospices! We will come to that next, KP. I am working on it 🙂

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  13. I have witnessed every situation you’ve mentioned Aunty. Sadly, our case is like Sundar. We’ve been fruitlessly trying to convince our in-laws who have a lot of health issues to come and stay with us. They call our place ‘your home’.
    The concept of global joint family seems workable. There is privacy as well as the security of family. Travelling tonother cities or countries though needs understanding from both sides. Especially when it comes to ‘shifting the balance’ and for practical reasons sacrifices need to be made.
    A very exhaustive post Aunty! You’ve covered all areas and possibilities.

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    1. Forgot to mention. The image at the beginning of the post is very cute and apt. ☺

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    2. Haven’t you said it, Varsha? No matter if you live under one roof or in a global set up meeting occasionally, it requires some compromise and sacrifice from both parties. And sadly it is always one side that does all the adjustments. The concept of ‘your home’ and ‘my home’ are born out of the sense of ownership and power dynamics as Beloo has said in her comment. As I have also said in the post, there is only so much you can do to persuade elders to shift to the children’s place. After that it is their call and there should be no guilt especially if your intentions are honest and any taunts and remarks by busybodies should be taken in one’s stride.

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  14. Well, you really cover everything, don’t you? 🙂 I appreciate this thorough analysis giving due consideration to all the possible aspects or perspectives on this very important topic. Like Rachna says, this global joint family system may be here to stay for quite a while. But as you mention this is more of an upper middle class arrangement where money is not an issue. Perhaps with greater economic growth as larger number of households move into the middle/upper middle class income group, maybe we will see more of such arrangements where generations are still living close-by and yet independently.
    I think the other important point you make is about the way the dynamics change when parents move into their children’s homes and must live by the routines of their children’s households. I will be honest this is what I would expect from my MIL or my father too if they decide to move in with us. At present they come and visit for a couple of months, and during those visits we make adjustments and try to accommodate as much as of their routines/habits as we can. But this can’t be expected on a regular basis, I am speaking very candidly and practically here. Of course, some adjustments will still be made especially on matters concerning their health, dietary requirements, other such necessities and comforts. But each household develops its rhythm and its way of doing things, adapting to that at an advanced age by someone who is otherwise of a more independent nature and has strong preferences can be challenging.
    I also appreciate your raising the concern about elders losing their social circle if they were to move with their children. This is a very serious consideration for us, if ever one of our parents decide to move in with us. Since there are no grandchildren involved, the parents won’t have much to engage with, except with our lives, which are not really all that ‘happening’, if you know what I mean 😀 We have consciously chosen a more introverted lifestyle with very few social activities as such. Not sure how this will sit with our parents if they ever decided to move in permanently with us…..I am already beginning to feel exhausted thinking of all the talking I may have to do!
    See, how you have made me share all this about my situation 🙂 But that I think is the power and force of your series. You are bringing up so many well thought out points and still allowing readers to see where their situation-specific concerns might land up. Just by bringing these possible challenges and aspects into our awareness, we may be better prepared to address them as and when they arise.
    I am quite interested in seeing what analysis you present in your future posts of some Bollywood films dealing with these issues. I haven’t watched Piku yet so can’t comment on the dynamic shown there, but I like what you say about “Papa’s girls” I guess I am one 🙂 But perhaps growing older has also made a difference in the sense that I can now see some things more objectively and in a detached manner than what was the case earlier when emotions were the ruling party. I think this is one thing that is most necessary – when both generations, parents and children (no matter what age) are able to move a bit beyond the mere sentimentality or emotional side of things and can see the dynamics of their inter-relationship in a bit more objective and rational way. And can then share about these things in a calm and open manner. Not always easy to do, but if it can be done it can really help ease many of the tensions that come into the dynamic when different generations start to live together, especially in the scenario when parents have to move in with their children because of ill-health or other dependence.
    Ok now I am writing another full-blown post, it seems. So I better stop here and wait for your next one 🙂

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    1. I do feel vindicated when the comments are a sharing of thoughts instead of mere reactions. Also, I feel I have some authority to talk about both the angles, having gone through the younger period and now living in the second phase.

      Unless you know their natures, you can’t decide that they would talk a lot and expect you to converse with them all the time. One of the things that make the younger generation dread boarding with their elders is the effect of stereotypes that the elders are saddled with. Cranky, talkative, inquisitive and whatever not. So relax. Maybe they would just soak in the atmosphere of peace and find their vanaprastha in the lap of Mother to spend their days in peace and joy. If I were to live in such a place in my later years, I surely would 🙂 Also, it is the very young grandchildren that really enjoy the company of their grandparents. The older ones are busy with their friends and school and other stuff and have hardly any time for even their parents. So relax!

      In typical Beloo manner you have expressed hope that more and more Indians will ascend the economic ladder and so help the global joint family to grow in its scope. But, the hidden truth in these families also is the closeness, for without that there is no family, is there? There are any number of children just living their lives while their elders live theirs, vainly waiting for one visit from them, even a call or skype session. Conversely, living under the same roof, the same can happen too. I have seen families where the elders are confined to one room and not even included at meals, for unnamed reason. Having met the elders in such homes, I have seen their isolation and feeling of rejection. So…

      The movie analysis have to wait, as I want to watch them again with the purpose of writing about them 🙂 I saw Piku a couple of days ago and it will feature prominently, I assure you. Feel free to make your comments as long as you like, because anyone who reads my loooooong posts deserves the right to write long comments too. Besides, I like the way you analyse my posts and add value to them in your comments! The only thing is, I take my time to reply such thought out comments to be able to do justice to them.

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      1. Well since you have given me permission to share more, let me say that the “talking” comment was written knowing a bit about the nature of people under discussion 🙂 But I am not complaining because really they are both very understanding and caring people and I couldn’t be luckier. And since they have been visiting me regularly (more or less), i have figured out ways to carve out my time when they too are busy with their silent time or reading or whatever 🙂 Anyway, we will cross the bridge when that time comes. But my biggest concern is their health. Since we live in really a rural area (just outside of Pondicherry), both my MIL and my father don’t feel too comfortable with the medical facilities here….especially because they are now so used to their doctors there. This is especially a big concern for my father who doesn’t easily trust doctors other than the his own 🙂 I think this too is another issue – medical care for seniors, both when they are living alone or with children who are living in other towns or countries.
        I agree ultimately what matters is the closeness – and that can happen even at a distance or may not always happen when living under the same roof.
        Look forward to your next post, about Piku.

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        1. Looks like everyone wants to read my post on old age homes 🙂 I hope it will be upto the expectations! There are specific concerns for the older among elders that need to be addressed by the family and society. But are they? Sometimes I feel almost hopeless about anything concrete coming up during my lifetime, but there is no harm in hoping, is there? As for your elders, they might not decide to relocate after all. Extended family of that generation still pulls together and would be able to help out, I am sure. But if they do come over, the calming effect of the place might actually rejuvenate them. And when love is there, the rest will follow. BTW, you don’t need permission to comment, reply comments in my space and make them as long as you like 🙂

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  15. A very nice post Zephyr and I really like how the thought has spread through the post. It is an innovative way of looking at the existing society- A global joint family – A fresh look indeed 🙂

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    1. Thank you for reading and liking, Vinay Nagaraju. Yes, we have to go along with the tide, especially if it is too big and strong to change course, else we will only be swept away. This is a happy arrangement for those who can afford it, and many are reaching that economic level slowly. We only have to worry about those who can’t, and that problem is threatening to swallow the society.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Nodding my head all the way, Zephyr! End of the day, the one thing that is needed the most to minimize problems of interaction – empathy – is the one thing that is in short supply. Very few people are able to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and see the world as it would appear to them. There is also the issue of all of us becoming progressively more self-centered, which makes the sacrifices you may need to make seem far in excess of the benefits derived by the other person.

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    1. Loved the point you have made about us becoming self centred which makes even a little giving as a big sacrifice. What is more, we don’t miss a chance to make it obvious that we are obliging the other! In addition to empathy, what is needed is a sense of rights and duties. We jump up to demand our rights at the slightest thing but run when faced with any responsibility, making hundreds of excuses. Given all this, we have to accept and make the best of the situation. No point in pining or feeling guilty, as the case might be, right?

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  17. Lata Sunil · · Reply

    You have just described my family situation. My in-laws and us stay in the same society. The kids are free to stay at whichever home they like. My brother and sister stay nearby. Our parents from Kerala visit us 2-3 times a year and we go down once a year. Its joint and everyone is in touch. And all stay out of each other’s hair 🙂

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    1. Oh yes, Lata. This is indeed the perfect arrangement, but only till the parents are both relatively young and healthy. The issues crop up once they get older and more frail. As I pointed out to someone, the succeeding generations are becoming better equipped to live on their own and the day is not far off when only global families would work! But even here, mutual understanding and love are necessary to make it work.

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  18. An exhaustive post, Zephyr, where you really balanced out all points of view. Kudos. I see the global joint family living on and being a great replacement for the conventional joint family. Like you mentioned, if both generations are compassionate to each other and no one gets exceedingly exploitative in the bargain, then this system can work for most people. However, like my dad says, it is very difficult to find reasonable people these days, irrespective of age. 🙂

    Like I tell my sons, one of the reasons why I wanted to raise them in India was because I wanted them closer to their family and culture. One of the best things we have in India is the way we love our children and look out for them even when they are adults. And, I see a lot of children reciprocating the love and respect. Yet, the issues of privacy, space, more stresses, rising tempers, insecurities etc. are more visible than ever. We demand more; we may end up giving less.

    I liked the point you raised about social media and society souring perfectly good relations. I have noticed this too. There is a lot of intolerance and I, me, myself attitude on social media that often colors the mind of the young men and women of our country. It will require great maturity on their part to ignore the barbs and do what works for them. One thing, I’ve realized is that unsolicited advice is free and cheaply available. It is for us to separate the wheat from the chaff and use our judgment to do what works for us.

    I would like to read your next post about Old age home — a concept that is still brushed off in India both by elders and the younger generation. It is often equated with abandonment. In my opinion, the caregivers are often overwhelmed, financially and physically stretched when they have to handle ailing elders.

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    1. The issue of elders and youngsters need necessarily be balanced as one has to see the problem from both sides. I appreciate parents like you who have opted for living in our own country to ground their children in our customs and traditions despite both the terms being viewed as retrograde. Today the advice comes largely from opinionmakers who hold so much power over their fans and followers. Often to be included and retained in a group, many people pretend to be something they are not, deny their basic nature, their roots and what not. It is scary the way media and social media are influencing thought processes that are sometime so flawed. Ah, the old age homes! I am working on all the angles and have to come up with another ‘balanced’ post 🙂 Thanks for reading the inordinately long post Rachna!

      Liked by 1 person

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