Family is a unique gift that needs to be appreciated and treasured, even when they are driving you crazy. As much as they make you mad, interrupt you, annoy you, curse at you, try to control you, these are the people who know you the best and who love you  – Jenna Morasca

There’s nothing greater than a family: that is an established truth. It is also a given that everyone loves and values their family immensely. But, a joint family is a hidden treasure. A sort of bonus, really. While the concept of a ‘joint family’ dates way back to ancient times, they are rare to find these days, as nuclear families are rapidly replacing them and taking their place. Joint families can now be seen only in rural villages and small cities of India.

A joint family is a household where many generations live together, and the most to benefit from this setup are the children, as it promotes oneness, closeness and harmony among the siblings. Their childhood is full of noise, happiness and playfulness. Children born in such families grow up without hassles and are generally better adjusted as human beings. In other words, they are healthy, both physically and mentally.

A joint family is a blessing in disguise as there is always a sense of moral support and there is always somebody for everybody to fall back on. The greatest asset in a joint family is the sense of security the set-up gives to each of its many members. Children and adults living in a joint family learn adjustments, understanding, patience, discipline, sharing and caring. There is never a dull moment as someone or the other is always around to talk to you.

The author (second from left) with her joint family at a wedding

Kids growing up in a joint family turn out to be more social, mature and caring. You grow up together, learn together, agree, disagree, fight and make up, knowing that disagreements are temporary and the family is always there for you.

These days, social networking has become so popular because the youth today is lonely, frustrated and depressed since there is hardly anyone to talk to them. In a joint family, you have real people to talk to, so your dependence on virtual friends is almost nil and you need social networking just for what it was meant to be―for networking.

I can cite other advantages, the greatest being that living in a joint family divides responsibilities and reduces overall workload that would otherwise fall on any one person. Studies have shown that living with a whole family curbs mental insecurities and loneliness. It is a pity that this concept is now fading out giving way to nuclear families.

I guess I was lucky. I was born and brought up in a joint family with my sisters, brother and lots of cousins. It was a fun-filled childhood with many sweet and sour memories.  

Grandparents are an integral part of such families. You are able to forge an independent relationship with your grandparents, and they with you. When mothers are busy with household chores or with work, children are left in their care. I have fond memories of sitting with my siblings listening to stories from my grandmother. Back then, there was no television, so family bonds were stronger.

All under one roof: The author with her husband and grandchildren

My luck continued – I got married into a joint family. I found it a boon, although, sometimes, along with the pros, it also has some cons. In spite of it, I loved being there. My husband’s family was a big one, where apart from our family, his cousins and their friends also lived with us. Besides, there is a steady stream of relatives who keep visiting. It reminds me of my own parental home―always full of life, with sounds of talking, laughing, chatting and playing. In my own house, I was the youngest, and therefore was pampered by everyone in the house. I cherish those memories and they always bring a smile to my face.

Anniversaries, birthdays and festivals are special and really fun. There is a certain joy in celebrating together. Family vacations are unforgettable with the whole family travelling together. I suppose all I can say is that nuclear families don’t know what they are missing.

I suppose you can say that every coin has two sides, and so does the joint family. Nuclear families may cite those differences for not wanting to live in a joint family, but with a little love, compassion, understanding and sacrifice, things can be sorted out. In fact, it teaches everyone the art of adjustment.

Joint families might feel overcrowded at times, but you need to remember that you are part of that family and that your presence is highly crucial and significant. You are there to lend support to your fellow family members and you encourage them to be their best self. And they in turn, do the same for you.

In a way, living together in a large family is a foremost concept of healthy living.

Manjri Sharma, who lives with her family in Rishikesh, is a homemaker. She loves nature and everything about it. Travelling is her hobby.