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V: Village

April 26, 2017

The kind that they say it takes to raise a child, I mean.

Only lately have I begun to realise the actual implications of the nuclear family life. Yes I know, quite late in life. At the risk of sounding like a self-centred <your choice of expletive here>, only after I’ve had a baby, I’ve truly understood why the whole joint family structure made sense once upon a time. And what it truly means when they say, It takes a village.

For one, there’s tons of wisdom, tried and tested through the ages that would’ve been available on demand, or even unsolicited, take it or leave it. Instead of turning to the Internet at the drop of a hat, there would be grandparents, in the flesh, telling you what to do and what not to do from years of experience. Instead of second-guessing your every decision, or asking strangers (well-meaning, I’m sure) on the Internet for advice, there would be loads of advice freely available at home. Yes, there’s always the phone and people you can turn to for advice, but I don’t know, we do seem to rely on the Internet a lot more, because it’s convenient.

Secondly, the child has a lot more exposure to family than during the occasional weekend or holiday when the family visits happen. And these additional helping hands are invaluable, be it in cases where both parents are working, or even when one of the parents stays home all day. The whole business of taking care of the child and engaging with her is shared across more than an adult or two. Which means a lot less stress on the primary caregiver.

I also think the child will grow with a lot more passed-down wisdom from the grandparents and learn to deal with different points of view. And of course, stories! Who better than the grandparents to regale them with stories of their parents’ childhood, and other fun stories in general?

And then, if there are other children in the house? That much more fun for the children, then 🙂

Of course, all of this applies as long as the adults all see eye to eye on most relevant matters and have healthy respect for each others’ choices and each other’s space. The lack of it of course is probably the main reason families move away, apart from the standard reasons like jobs, proximity to workplace, schools etc.

I wonder if in the future we’ll go back a full circle and joint families will be more the norm than the exception. Will we all evolve sufficiently to learn to live with each others’ differences, make suitable compromises and co-exist peacefully? Only time will tell, I suppose.

Edited to add: Of course, on further thought, I’m guessing it will be complicated. For one, I’m not all for the newly married couple moving into the groom’s house simply because that’s how it has been for centuries. So much patriarchy at play. So when I mean a joint family, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense. It would be nice if both sets of parents live close by, so the whole joint family feeling is still fostered, perhaps? Sounds Utopian, I know. Hmm.

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