Brave new Indian family or no Indian family? Why Indians resist social changes.

Here’s an email I would like to share. I know these questions worry many other Indians and are the reason why we see resistance to social changes.
Subject: Brave new Indian Family.
Recent interaction and reading on your blog made me wonder a few things. In the new world order (Hypothetical & in India) some important things that come to my mind are:
– Independence of women – should mean – men & women are treated and respected equally. No one has an edge.
– No patriarchy or matriarchy system. But does this mean nuclear family should be the order of the day without  grandparents?
– Men & Women are different biologically and so certain things have to be worked out differently. Like the way we are talking about abortion.E.g.  End of the the day, the physical endurance still have to be of the lady  – whatever may be the decision.
– Marriage or no marriage? Don’t have an answer – but definitely present model of marriage isn’t really working well, but in want of a better system, probably continue?
What bothers me is: 
1. – Grandparents i.e. old people should stay on their own?
2. – Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?
3. – Like in western society kids should move out of the house?
4. – I have even seen suggestions about young couples moving out of the house right after marriage so that husband-wife get to know each other. Fair enough. Should that be the only way? It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.
5. – Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful? Looks like we are just letting what westerns do – without understanding the full repercussion of it.
It means that while grandparents can stay in the house but at your terms! – While I do think the newly married couples should be allowed freedom to explore and understand each other – go out as often as they want etc. But necessarily staying away from parents isn’t the only way. I’m also surprised how some people feel grandparents involvement is with intention – to have a stake in the grand children.
Some of these things I believe happens to us, because we live with per-conceived ideas, don’t we? Aren’t there any really nice parents?
Some random lamentations :))

62 thoughts on “Brave new Indian family or no Indian family? Why Indians resist social changes.

    • *faints again!*

      No, it is a legitimate first, as I read the whole post and only then realised that there weren’t any comments yet!:)

      It is a catch-22 situation, IHM. As life expectancy and the quality of life increases, our population is aging, and we have more people active and with all their faculties intact. Yet, the older generation undoubtedly needs the young.

      Let me give the example of two families in my building- the older couple lives on the ground floor, and their son & daughter-in-law on the third floor of another building in the same complex. Not even in the same building where they may be tempted to interfere in each other’s lives. Far enough for having their own space-(who says an older couple does not need their space?) yet near enough for a feeling of security- for grandparents, parents, and grand-children.

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      • I agree Sandhya. That’s a way we live, very close but not together. Always there when needed, but not trying to improve other family member’s lives and choices. Basically respecting every member, irrespective of age, gender, financial status or relationship.

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      • I love the system you describe in your example – I have seen a lot of people living that way – but my only question is, where are the girl’s parents?😦 Three houses in the same complex maybe? Dunno – not many families can afford that luxury.

        Me – The families I have seen have sold the parents ancestral house or the house they lived in their younger years in, and bought these flats. I agree everybody can’t afford it. One friend’s mother bought a smaller (one bedroom) flat near the daughter’s house, this daughter and her mother in law combined two flats to make one four bedroom unit… One of my friends built an extra room and balcony in her DDA flat for her mother. Many families seem to buy two flats together, with sons and daughters both.

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  1. Society changes because the economic system changes. Joint families can’t work in our economic system where earnings, hopes and aspirations are individualised. In a feudal patriarchal system the wishes of the Head if the family was carried out by others. There might have been a survival advantage in such systems in pre-industrial revolution societies. Such families are at a great disadvantage now in capitalist societies where each member of the family can have their own income. Having their own income means ability to fulfil your own hopes and aspirations. Joint family system is not designed for that.

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    • I agree.

      My father was one of the middle sons in a large family. Since his father was not so much in the picture, my eldest uncle ran the household. When it was time for their higher studies, my father got a seat in a medical college and another uncle for engineering (or something like that). Since the family couldn’t afford more than one, it was decided that my father would be the one to study and the other uncles would work and help pay the college and hostel fees for my father.

      While I was growing up, we lived in the city and we had a constant stream of cousins living with us and attending schools / colleges. Absolute fun for us children, but it wasn’t till later that I thought about all the adjustment my parents made. My parents stayed in the smaller bedroom and us children in the bigger room. At one point there were 4 of us girls in that one big room. We all got similar clothes for festivals, similar presents for birthdays and so on. So my parnets spent equally on all of us. Even though my parents are doctors, we were not particularly rich. But we never had lack of food for example. But one of my cousins once told about times when her parents had to borrow money from a neighbor towards the end of a month to buy rice.

      The point that I am trying to make with this long story is that sometimes we are investments for the future. Someone might have given up what was theirs for the good of the family. In that situation, is it right for the luckier one to claim individuality? My mother could well have been within her rights to say no to all the intrusions in her life. She and her sisters together ran a clinic and lived nearby. Her sisters never had semi permanent visitors like we did and they were financially much better off. I don’t remember her complaining even once. I have always been proud of being a part of my family. I can’t imagine this kind of arrangement working with my generation though!

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  2. Joint families in the current set up just do not work! They can only work when both the younger couple and the older couple have plenty of time and money to realize their own aspirations, and have the will power and maturity to keep their noses out of each other’s business. But the problem becomes complex when there are more than two couples living together.

    In the olden days, suppression of younger couples’ voices and desires was the norm. Now the youth have a voice, and also the financial clout, so they dont stay quiet. The older generation can not take it.

    I agree older couples do need support, and wish to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives, but they have to unbend to make it happen. Egos cannot be allowed to enter the picture.

    Premarital sex, extra marital sex … heck this is an issue for couples to work out on their own. Who are we to stick our noses into this?

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    • Ritu, I agree that it is not working for most.. I think I just got lucky:) It is possible that things are working because only his set of parents are alive.. But that would be a mean thing to say and I’m grudging credit:-) We don’t get into each other’s way, but without making it sound like an ‘agreement’.. There are things that we do not agree on, but there are many things that the hubby and I don’t agree upon too.. I tell them on the face and get done with it, and they tell it on my face and leave it at that.. We have managed not to infringe each others space, at least so far😉 My cousin, my own uncle’s son has been staying with us the past 2 months and many young mothers among the friends found it surprising or rather shocked that my in-laws or hubby are actually being ‘nice’ and are not acting funny.. Many women in a joint family have said that any visitor from the girl’s side are welcome only for a few days! It was my turn to feel surprised that even the 20-something mothers think that way! My in-laws have been by my side when I most needed them, physically and emotionally, and I have been around them as they need us now.. And when I say in-laws, am talking about the extended ILs too.. That said, not all are lucky:-) Within proximity, is ideal..

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  3. I seriously hope no one from my work reads this blog…or I’ll get busted. Here goes:

    1. ‘Old people’ should have their ‘own lives.’ The whole image of the elderly as kind caregivers to one’s children is unfair to everybody involved. Look at the elderly in Canada/US/Europe—they drive cars, they do their own groceries, they fit in furnishings in their bathrooms that are ‘safer’ for them, etc, etc, and so on. They don’t look at their children (and grandchildren) as their sole purpose in life. In other words, they are independent and lead meaningful lives.

    And something else—the government should definitely figure out a way to make their lives easier. For example—in Canada—you get a monthly allowance for being an elderly person (unless your savings/investments are really high). The government in India is getting a ‘free pass’ at ignoring yet another group of its own citizens.

    2. – Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?

    Parents, unless declared unfit by a medical professional, have the primary say in how their children are raised. Hence—parents. Grandparents can give their opinions, just like everybody else.

    3. – Like in western society kids should move out of the house?

    Learning to be independent is a necessity — you can’t imagine the number of otherwise smart but incompetent people I’ve met in India. They wouldn’t have a clue how to run a house or do some basic budgeting. Heck, they wouldn’t even know how to pay a cell phone bill—I met someone who sends her [parents’] driver to pay her cell phone bill. And then there are people who spend their entire salaries in the many malls of Delhi because, hey, they live with their parents so they have no use for money.

    4. Helping when asked versus poking your nose in are two very different things. Both, my parents as well as my husband’s parents (before they were divorced) did not live in joint family settings (this was in the 80s and 90s). They did absolutely fine for themselves.

    I think the reason why people recommend new couples to move out is that most houses and flats in India are very small. They’re one-family spaces—not multi-family spaces. In my building, I know of flats (3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 1 help quarters) where the grandparents, parents, two kids, and one domestic help live. If I had to live in such a confined space with that many people, I’d go mad (and I’m assuming so would most people). So once again, money comes into play. It’s much easier living as a joint family in huge house in Maharani Bagh than it is in a high rise in Gurgaon.

    5. – Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful?

    #5 is what I have a problem with the most. What does pre-marital sex have to do with being faithful? How are the two mutually exclusive in any way? Unless you’re insinuating that ‘if one has premarital sex, one is more likely to be unfaithful’ that is. What proof do you have of this? I lived with my husband for almost 4 years before marrying him legally—does that make both of us more likely to commit adultery? Please do not state your opinion as fact, it’s quite offensive.

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      • No you are not. Definition of unfaithful: Engaging in sexual relations with a person other than one’s regular partner in contravention of a previous promise or understanding.

        This doesn’t extend to the time period before you’re even in the relationship with said partner. If you believe that ‘faithful’ means waiting for marriage to engage in sexual relations then that’s your prerogative–please do not expect other people to have the same.

        Side note: the christian conservatives use the exact same logic to avoid teaching sex ed in school.

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      • One of the most flawed ideals of Indian society is to confuse between sex and marriage and the thought that marriage is the passport to sex and vice-versa.
        Why is it that we Indians are always educated to abstain from sexual intercourse before marriage?
        Let’s just accept that sex is natural biological phenomenon.
        Say if one does not choose to marry till S/he is 40, are you saying that S/he should completely choose to remain celibate and deprive body of its basic wants and needs?

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      • Are you telling me that mangal sutra is the only thing that has the magical power to induce sexual desire at exactly the one millionth of the second that it is worn ..

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      • Really?

        That would mean that vast numbers of Indian men are guilty of infidelity.

        Many Indian men demand chaste wives but are not themselves virgins when they marry.

        Unless, of course, you meant that WOMEN who had pre-marital sex were unfaithful.

        Very new age, aren’t we?

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  4. So what you’re essentially asking is “what’s wrong with the traditional Indian family system?” I assume, like most traditions, it began as giving each person a task to do (one they could do well) that made life for the family unit better.That has morphed into an system today where the elders believe their children and their spouses owe them their existence. Its led to burnt brides, secret gay sons who marry making themselves and everyone around miserable, mothers who don’t have first rights over their children, daughters treated as third rate citizens.

    That’s why young people prefer to live away from their parents. When elders in families treat the next generation as thinking adults who are capable of making their own decisions rather than persist in thinking of them as the helpless babes they brought into the world, then maybe not everyone will take the ‘drastic’ action to distance themselves from their parents.

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  5. First and foremost –
    – So do you say that “Independence of women” needs to be hypothetical and not pragmatic…this thought shudders me more than anything..

    – If the present model of marriage is not working well, we need to find out a better model and evolve instead of sticking on to the same old crap.
    Haven’t you been taught of “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel” saying.

    – What bothers me is: It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.
    – Yes the girl’s parents may be the ones who actually need a helping hand . But how many times in our society setup do the sons choose to stay with girl’s family for the fear of being labelled “ghar ka jamaai”. Yes there are a very few exceptions. I don’t deny.

    – Regarding your question about marriage, etc :
    Why combine per-marital consensual sex, marriage and faithfulness and try to resolve this unrelated equation.
    Why this thought that “marriage” is the key to “sex”..
    I don’t think this blog advises anyone to be unfaithful or to stay unmarried etc., It only cites references to real life incidents while helping one pursue things strictly because one wishes to do and not because he/she is forced into anything.

    – I think grandparents can always have a stake. But it becomes a problem when a DIL starts hearing advices on how to conceive and etc.,
    What we(rather I) insist is that while they may have stake they should not try to force their opinion on the couple.

    Different things to different people.,.

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  6. Living alone without parental interference, having grandparents not involved in important decisions of your life, not having a joint family has nothing to do with culture.

    It has to do with money and technology that people have access to in the past 100 years.

    Older people can drive around and help themselves, they can work beyond 60, they can avail of better health/medical care which often made them often very dependent on the young.

    I could go on and on about more examples of how things have changed suddenly in the last 100 years in any country with some upward economic mobility.

    Living in together, saving oneself from pre-marital sex, nuclear families are not products of some strange cult in the west but are choices thrown up by economic benefits to individuals who are professionals (men as well as women). These choices were not always available.

    It will happen in India too as it modernizes, weather anyone likes it or not.

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    • It’s just amazing that people can be so very rigid.

      Our ancestors took much greater risks and lived much more dangerously than do we.

      They were always moving, always searching — more food, more water, less danger…the list is endless.

      People like the email writer should read a few history books. The only constant of human life is CHANGE.

      That’s how the world has been and will FOREVER be.

      Our ancestors moved from the African grasslands to Central Asia; from there to the basins of the Indus and the Ganges.

      During these arduous migrations, they weren’t sitting around discussing “Indian culture” and “joint vs nuclear families”.

      They were doing what was needed for survival, in environments that were unimaginably harsh.

      We, their descendants, live lives that they could not remotely imagine.

      Yet, what do we do? We pine for the old days, we obsess about “customs and traditions”.

      Even the most traditional sixty-something is much more ‘modern’ than his/her own grandparents.

      When I am seventy, people who are in their twenties will no doubt call me an old fuddy-duddy. Life goes on.

      So why sweat the small stuff? Trust people to make the choices that suit them best.

      Why agonise about joint families and pre-marital sex and having a “say” in your grandkids’ life?

      Why not live your life to the fullest; and let others do the same?

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  7. I wonder why this letter writer thinks being western is a bad thing?

    The writer seems to be under the impression that most westerners don’t care about their parents, and that old people are not involved at all in grandchildren’s lives. S/he could not be more wrong.

    Did you know that in America, 45% of all families with young children (under 10 yrs) where both mom & dad work outside the home leave their children with the grandparents during their work hours? (Not saying grandparents should be obligated to provide free childcare – in the US they are not obligated by culture, it is very voluntary – but just illustrating that grandparents tend to be heavily involved with grandchildren here!)

    And did you know that almost all working people who have retired parents send money to their parents? And that 90% of full-time caregivers for old people with health or disability issues are their children or grandchildren? (The caregivers are female 65% of the time, and that is an issue that needs to be corrected, but again, this is to illustrate that people in America do not abandon their old parents in need!)

    Mainly the writer’s issue seems to be negotiation of the relationship between young and old…. In India this would involve concerns of duty, respect (only for elders!), morality, etc. In the west it involves only love and *mutual* respect. I very much prefer the latter! In my opinion, “Western” values are pretty fantastic and even with all their flaws they are WAY better than our much touted Indian values.

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    • I have to agree with Nandini – I do not know about the exact statistical figures, but I see plenty of grandparents involved with their grandchildren here(UK) as well. Not just parents, siblings pitching in, and children looking after their elderly parents – it happens here as well. The only difference I see is that every body has their own space, More often than not, parents live by themselves, and children visit – and vice versa. My neighbour is a divorced man, and I see him babysitting his granddaughter quite a lot. I think it helps if people stay in nuclear families but close enough to help out other family members – be it both sets of parents or siblings. My parents always say that they enjoy their independence, their space – and why not? Just because they are senior citizens does not mean that they can’t have a life of their own?

      The problem with our system of joint families is the lack of space and respect for the younger members of the family. Sons and daughter-in-laws staying with their parents are assumed to be children – even if they become grandparents themselves, so their opinions, wishes get undermined – in a lot of cases, if not all. So naturally people will start to resent it, and will walk out, if they know that they can pull it off. If they feel trapped, and can’t do anything about it – they wait, until they can ‘have their turn’.
      And of course, the woman’s parents have no such luxuries.

      There is nothing wrong with grandparents being involved with their grandchildren – nobody would claim that. The only reason it could be a problem is when the grandparents try to undermine the parents, or try to take over. As far as grandparents stay grandparents, and do not try to become the parents of the child, it should be alright.

      It makes sense for kids to move out to develop their independence, why is it taken in a negative context? Lots of children in India do too – when education and job opportunities force them to move away – and I think it only helps.

      As for premartial sex – I don’t think it is a western import at all. We just prefer to pretend that it does not exist, and it only happens in the West!

      And anyway, as others have explained, premarital sex does not mean being unfaithful!

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      • @Smitha, love your comment.
        I, rather the husband and I, enjoy our freedom and space. We are not dying to go stay with our children or wilting because we haven’t yet seen those “tiny feet”. Really, I laugh to think how some people have this fixed notion of older people and what sort of life they would like to lead. The “pre-conceived notions” are those that think ALL that older people want is to stay with their children and grandchildren and have a say in their lives. How about changing those “pre-conceived notions” and taking a second look at what older people really want?
        As for pre-marital sex being a Western import, I’d like to draw the attention of the email writer to our epics. They speak of pre-marital sex happening left, right and centre. And since nobody wanted you to know that they actually were talking of pre-marital sex, they told us Kunti “prayed” to the Sun God and as a result was born Karna. Oh yeah, really?! Do YOU believe that? So quit talking as if Indians are this holier than thou crowd who never indulged in pre-marital sex. They even got pregnant by outsiders when widows.
        I too don’t understand what faithfulness has to do with pre-marital sex. Faithfulness is with the partner you have decided to be faithful with, when you have found such a person. Or are you implying the importance of ‘virginity’? If you are, I’d like to know why virginity should be of concern to anyone other than individuals who may or may not want to retain (or not) theirs. WHY should a family, community and a society as a whole be obsessed with the state of virginity of (only) women?

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    • @Nandini, I don’t know why Indians have this firmly rooted belief that anyone other than them (especially the Big Bad West) don’t care for their elders or children. The majority of Indians are this pompous lot who want to believe this and feel good and virtuous in the process. Nonsense. I wish a few of them are taken on a tour to see how they are not the only people in the world who love and respect elders and care for children!
      I agree, love and “mutual” respect is any day better.

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      • It’s all so hypocritical.

        The very same people who talk about Indian family values gossip about somebody who has a disabled child or a widowed/divorced daughter or a gay or an unemployed (hence unmarried) son.

        Real family values dictate that we rally around our family members when they are in trouble; not gossip about them over tea and samosas.

        I have a friend whose uncle has a hereditary skin condition.

        He is expected to not attend weddings and engagement ceremonies, because the family is afraid that his skin condition will cause gossip and adversely affect the childrens’ marital prospects.

        Not saying all Indian families are hypocritical, but I’ve seen many that are.

        You have to fit into a very narrow mould to win the approbation of Indian society.

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  8. All said and done, there is no right or wrong time to not just speak and think of change, but to change. For how many more centuries are we going to cling to something that our ancestors did and label them as culture? We want more money, we want the best education, we want high-paying jobs, good homes. When we are willing to change for all these, then we should bring social changes too. In general, women and youngsters are more open to change than men are.

    Grandparents in the US do get involved in the lives of their grandchildren. They take them out over the week-ends. They even baby-sit them. It is a wrong impression that only Indian grandparents have attachments with their grandchildren.

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  9. I have a question : What exactly does pre-marital sex have to do with being faithful? I don’t really see how the two are related, and here again comes in the talk of ‘doing what westerners do’.. To the email writer, do you feel that sex is something ‘only westerners do’? India’s population, the 2nd highest in the world, would prove otherwise.

    Again, the point with regard to ‘kids moving out of the house’, I feel, has nothing to do with ‘western culture’ – it’s a very personal choice, but I have seen, on the whole, more Indians (Indian MEN, specifically) stay with their parents (for whatever reasons, which I am not completely aware of so it would be wrong for me to comment on.) I think moving out of home/not moving out of home should be a personal choice, and not one forced onto the child by the parents.

    I grew up in a nuclear family, but one of my grandfathers lives about 10 minutes’ distance from our home, and he too prefers it that way. He’s close enough to us distance-wise, but far enough so that everyone has their own space, him included.

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  10. Just wanted to comment on the pre-marital sex part. Just because people are waiting until their late 20s or early 30s to get married, it doesn’t mean that human beings as a species have evolved into not needing sex until that age.

    Personally, I don’t think I could be with someone who’s saving himself for marriage or expecting me to do the same! I’d like my partner to understand that love-making is an expression of love, and sometimes sex is just sex and not exactly love-making, and that’s okay too. I’d want him to be comfortable with it and with the idea of it, just as he is with other natural, animal needs of his such as sleep or hunger. I’d be just that little bit wary of being with someone who’s completely inexperienced in the area, because at my age – 30 – it takes a fair amount of repression to have accomplished that.

    (It’s not different than being equally wary of being with someone who hasn’t been in a relationship before, which I must confess I am. I’ve learned a lot from my previous relationships, and ideally I’d like to be with someone who isn’t at the start of their own learning curve.)

    I don’t care which hemisphere this is attributed to. It just makes sense to me.

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    • I’m also surprised that pre-marital sex and loyalty are being spoken about as two sides of the same coin when they have nothing to do with each other. Loyalty to your current partner doesn’t mean living your live in anticipation of meeting him and therefore not being with anyone else even BEFORE you know him!

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  11. To chip in with other commentators, the Indian perception of foreigners ‘moral values’ cannot be further from the truth. A Belgian uni. city I lived in would empty out every weekend as the students visited their families (owing to short distances, no two places in Belgium can be further than 2.5 hours away). The west european children that I come across daily are independent and well-behaved, much more than their Indian counterparts. Even when they are out partying(in big groups), they have their fun but never bother other people unlike the Gurgaon new year youth mob we saw earlier this year. Many-a-times the teenagers have apologized to me for being too loud, if somehow I was standing too close to their group etc.
    Parents, Grandparents and children all care very much for each other but respect the individuality of each other. It is normal for people to go visit their parents for helping out with heavy chores like cutting trees in garden, picking apples in season etc. Parents are making cakes,pickles, preserves and posting it to their kids and grandkids. (Germany has a special cake-post system.) Retired Grandparents are usually much richer than young people in EU, and grandkids esp. look forward to special treats from them. Young families with kids are helped a lot by their parents on both sides in no lesser way than Indians do. Indians must realize that family and family love is universal, and the way we do it is not the best or the only way. In fact, the more I see the more I’m convinced that Indians overdo it, try to make everyone dependent and interfere too much with personal choices in the name of family and love! Whatever it maybe , it is definitely not love.

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  12. //Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?//
    ////But necessarily staying away from parents isn’t the only way. I’m also surprised how some people feel grandparents involvement is with intention – to have a stake in the grand children.//

    Grandparenting is a privilege, not a right. Grandparents can not veto the decisions of the parents for the child.In the current culture, when opinions are weighed by age, staying away seems like the only viable solution. If the grandparents have a different opinion from the parents in every matter, and there are conflicts,it is easy for the child to get confused.

    // Like in western society kids should move out of the house? Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful? Looks like we are just letting what westerns do – without understanding the full repercussion of it.//

    “Copying the westerners” is a phrase that irritates me. Why do I have to copy anybody? If I like a concept, I like it for what it is; I don’t care about the origins, be it western, Arabic, South East Asian or whatever.

    I agree we don’t know the repercussions of a lot of things. But if something is not working, we try other options. They might have some pitfalls, but we will learn on the way and refine the path. Same arguments were made when we had technology solutions. “Is TV destroying the social life?” was a big argument at one point, it’s just a way of life now. We had problems with excessive TV-watching, but we also created awareness to use TV in a positive way.

    //Men & Women are different biologically and so certain things have to be worked out differently. Like the way we are talking about abortion.E.g. End of the the day, the physical endurance still have to be of the lady – whatever may be the decision.//

    Pregnancy and childbirth are the only issues in which men and women differ. That argument can not be used to make everyday decisions like who will cook, who will drive, who will have career aspirations or who will care for the parents in old age. Men and women should get the same rights to make choices in their own lives.You might see a pattern in the choices made by men and women, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to make a choice.

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  13. “Independence of women – should mean – men & women are treated and respected equally. No one has an edge.”
    Yes, definitely. We must fight for equal political, economic, and social rights for women and men.

    “No patriarchy or matriarchy system. But does this mean nuclear family should be the order of the day without grandparents.”
    Joint family systems are rooted in feudal and patriarchal societies. Since a guy gets to stay with his parents even after the marriage, he’s valued more than a girl. If we want women to be equal, they also need to take up responsibilities of their parents. This is only possible in a nuclear family set up. Nuclear family system doesn’t mean complete alienation from extended family and grandparents. In most cases grandparents and reside nearby and are in close contact with the children. Even if they live great distances from their grandchildren, Current technology and transport allows them to keep close and remain connected with their grandchildren. And there’s always Good old fashioned letter writing if they aren’t versed with the modern methods of correspondence. The young couples also keep in touch with their parents and often consult them on various things. During festivals either the grandparents visit the children or the children go on a holiday with their parents to their grandparents place.
    Nuclear families provides space to the couple, foster independence, self reliance, a sense of partnership and mutual responsibility and helps in avoiding stress, discomfort, tension and politics that is peculiar to a joint family set-up. It doesn’t put an unnecessary and unfair pressure on the woman to adjust to everyone in the family. Nuclear family set ups allow young couples to make their own traditions, follow their own rules and live their life sans unnecessary parental pressure, influence and interference. In fact nuclear family set up allows the couple to take care of both set of parents as and when the need arises.
    “Men & Women are different biologically and so certain things have to be worked out differently. Like the way we are talking about abortion.E.g. End of the the day, the physical endurance still have to be of the lady – whatever may be the decision.”
    Definitely men and women are biologically different. They have different kind of sexual organs- You can’t ask women to use urinals. Can you? (Sorry for this pathetic example). Pregnancy and childbirth is something that only women can go through. So you make arrangements to accommodate those differences and hence certain things have to be worked out differently. This argument shouldn’t be used to cultivate and promote traditional gender roles. Remember sex and gender are two different things.
    “ Marriage or no marriage? Don’t have an answer – but definitely present model of marriage isn’t really working well, but in want of a better system, probably continue?”
    Marriage or no marriage remains a personal choice. The present model of the institution isn’t working because it’s highly unfair to the women. As we do away with patriarchy perhaps egalitarian marriages will become the norm.

    “Grandparents i.e. old people should stay on their own?”
    Couples who have only girls stay on their own. Don’t they? Many times one person outlives his/her spouse and has to live alone in old age. It was and still is a reality for a lot of people who have only daughters. But you know what most of these people have their own lives, aspirations, dreams. They cherish their independence.
    What I want to say is unless severely ill or handicapped, old people can very well look after themselves, and lead happy, independent and meaningful lives. And as pointed out before most of the old people reside at least in the same city, if not in the same apartment or colony. They more often than not receive regular financial support from their children and with current technology can freely communicate with their children.

    “Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?”
    Grandparents have full right to create deep, loving relationships with their grandchildren, but they don’t have any right to dictate to their children on how they should raise their kids, or how many kids they should have and when they should have them; unless they are asked for their advice on these topics. They shouldn’t undermine parent’s authority.
    They need to realize that they made their decision on whether to have kids or not, now it’s time for their children to decide the same for themselves, on their own and just because of their age they don’t get to make that decision for their kids.
    Young couple would definitely seek and welcome their parent’s suggestions with open heart if they learn to respect their adult children’s decisions and don’t interfere unnecessarily.
    “Like in western society kids should move out of the house?”
    Moving out is a normal and healthy thing for children to do. It fosters independence. When you do your own laundry and pay your own bills, not only do you get a feel for what the real world is really like, you also find yourself feeling more mature and responsible. You learn to stand on your own two feet. The whole experience can alter your outlook on life in its entirety. It can severely alter your future and motivate and inspire you to pursue new things and excel at the things which you currently do. It’s daunting, but it’s worth it.

    “I have even seen suggestions about young couples moving out of the house right after marriage so that husband-wife get to know each other. Fair enough. Should that be the only way? It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.”
    Well in general people don’t give two hoots about whether the girl’s parents need a helping hand or not. This question tends to arise only in case of the boy’s parent. It is nice to see somebody considering girl’s parents as well.
    Now coming to the point, having a separate residence doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your parents. If it’s financial help that is required, you can provide it even from miles away. If your parents need physical care, maybe you can move in with them for a while or appoint a nurse or a professional to take care of them, while you constantly provide them with emotional support. Nuclear family set- ups also have different arrangements to accommodate needy parents. Some people build multi-storey houses, where the parents and the couples live on separate floors. Some choose to live in the same colony or same floor of an apartment. Some people, who can afford a bungalow, may choose to have both set of parents live under the same roof with them provided there’s lots of individual space, mutual respect and minimal interference in each other’s life.
    “Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful?”
    Marriage doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of providing an outlet to your sexual desires, at least not anymore. Pre-marital sex has nothing to do with faithfulness in marriage. Pre-marital sex doesn’t mean extra-marital sex or affair. Having pre-marital sex doesn’t mean you cheated on or were disloyal to some person you married later in life. Sex is a natural need; it’s an expression of love. Pre-marital sex and faithfulness in marriage are mutually exclusive.

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  14. I always find it really interesting when people make these “blanket” statements about Western culture. And the most interesting thing is that I feel a lot of the knowledge about so-called Western culture, is coming from TV.

    TV!!!!

    My first trip out of the USA was to a South American country. While there, I got to watch some TV. It was American shows with Spanish dubbing. To be specific, we watched Law & Order and Man vs. Food. I was horrified to think of how the people in that country must think of the USA. Crime? Unabashed Gluttony? And don’t even let me get into the racial stereotypes that were played out on the screen.

    It’s scary to think that a good chunk of the world judges your country, culture, and “values” by what they see on the TV screen. We are so much more than a country of jeans-wearing, pre-marital sex-lovin’, drugged up people. Each section of our country is different. Each state is different. Each section of town is different.

    Each individual is different.

    On another note, I find it so fascinating that the country that brought the world The Kama Sutra is so freaking uptight and repressive/regressive about sex. Having the title of “wife” or “husband” does not guarantee good sex. Yes, I said it, GOOD sex. If you are having sex, it should be good, it should be loving, it should be fun! And let’s face it, sometimes these things happen with experience (or multiple experiences).

    In the West, dating is seen as a way to test compatibility for marriage, learn about your needs, wants, and deal breakers in a relationship, and also to explore sexuality in a loving space. Arranged marriages scare me for that reason. What happens if there is no sexual chemistry? If there is no passion? Are you expected to live a lifetime having bad sex? Sexual needs are important in a relationship! They just are.

    If you are safe, mind is in the right place, and you are happy with your decision, I don’t think anyone should be made to feel less than because they aren’t a virgin when they get married.

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  15. Just noticed this post. I haven’t yet read all the comments and will do that tomorrow.
    Here is my take on this question.

    (Info: At 63 and 58 we are now stepping into the final stage of domestic life. The children are independent and live abroad. Grandchildren have not yet materialized. My inlaws aged 89 and 80 live with me and have done so for the past 30 years)

    ———-
    Questions
    ———-

    ========
    Answers:
    =========
    ————————————————————-
    1. – Grandparents i.e. old people should stay on their own?
    ————————————————————-
    ==================================
    1) Yes, if possible and feasible till ripe old age makes that impractical.
    My parents did that till the last five years of their lives. My brother and I took turns to keep them with us during their final years. They are no more today.

    Grandparents who can do so, are are however advised to live within easy reach of at least one of their children
    During ripe old age, or if their medical condition is hopeless they could move to a geriatric care center if they can afford it or one of their children must accept the resposibility for thier care till they pass on.
    ==================================================

    —————————————————
    2. – Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?
    ——————————————————
    ==========================================
    2)No. They can give advice or opinions and then step back and should not mind it if their children do not heed the advice
    =======================================

    —————————————————————
    3. – Like in western society kids should move out of the house?
    ————————————————————–
    ==========================================
    3)Not if they are not earning. If they are earning, either they move out or they contribute their fair share of the family expenses as long as they stay with their parents. Once they get married they must make an effort to have their own establishment. They may stay with parents only as an interim measure till they find their own accommodation.
    ======================================

    ———————————————-
    4. – I have even seen suggestions about young couples moving out of the house right after marriage so that husband-wife get to know each other. Fair enough. Should that be the only way? It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.
    ———————————————————
    ================================
    4)If their health is such that they need a helping hand then it is perhaps okay for the couple to live with the parents. But they should respect each other’s privacy and one couple should not impose rules on another whoever happens to own the house.
    ========================================

    ————————————–
    5. – Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful? Looks like we are just letting what westerns do – without understanding the full repercussion of it.
    ————————————–
    ==========================================
    5)Could not understand this question but I will still attempt an answer.

    I don’t “promote” or encourage pre-marital sex. But if it happens it is not a moral or social disaster or a scandal. Our times were different. I can view it differently now and I don’t make a fetish out of virginity though I recommend being a virgin till marriage for both the boy and the girl unless marriage is inordinately delayed for genuine reasons. I had no problems being a virgin myself till the age of 26 when I got married.

    I strongly support fidelity after marriage whether or not either partner has experienced pre-marital sex.
    I don’t believe all westerners encourage premarital sex. They merely tolerate it.
    I don’t believe all westerners tolerate infidelity after marriage.
    In this matter East and west think alike.

    Regards
    GV

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    • //I recommend being a virgin till marriage for both the boy and the girl unless marriage is inordinately delayed for genuine reasons.//

      GV sir, I don’t understand this statement. Can you please clarify?

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      • Thanks Chandru for your special interest in that statement and your request for a clarification.
        Since that would be a digression from the current topic, to avoid distracting the readers and causing the thread to go off-track, let me clarify separately.

        I have elaborated on that statement here:

        http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1523566/Reply%20to%20Chandru.txt

        @Kay in India

        I agree.
        “westerners” is too general a term.
        When I used it, I had in mind the American, Caucasian Protestant Christian population.
        I have no experience interacting with other “westerners” and concede your point
        Regards
        GV

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    • “I don’t believe all westerners encourage premarital sex. They merely tolerate it.”

      ‘westerners’ are a diverse people. For example, a Swede is going to be very different from an Evangelical born again Christian from Alabama. The latter will ge against ‘premarital’ sex, the former really wouldn’t care what other people do with their lives. It would be incorrect to state that Westerners ‘tolerate’ pre-marital sex because, well, the mean age for first marriages are edging close to 30. A 30-year-old virgin in most of the Western world would be seen as a joke–heck, they even made a movie about something like this called The 40 Year Old Virgin (btw, definitely recommend, very funny).

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  16. I have no clue what Indians see wrong with living away from parents. You can still be close to them and care for them, and at the same time live on your own. This idea that you “abandon” or “ditch” your parents just because you move out is simply stupid.

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  17. The definitions of “western culture” and “indian culture” are very skewed and changes from person to person. Therefore, one must not stick to any particular ‘culture’. I am not even sure what the term culture means in its true sense, to be frank🙂
    I guess, one must just do what one feels right, without thinking if that action fits in any particular culture (as defined by the society). I dont think there can be one universal rule or an arrangement that can be termed as “right” or “ideal”. These terms are again subjective. As long as the adults are not forced into doing anything, any arrangement is a good arrangement!

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  18. Why do we always think we need to make a set of rules for the entire society and follow them? Different things work for different people – some new couples may appreciate the privacy and move out while others may prefer the security of a well established household. Some grandparents may want to be totally independent while others may crave the attention of their wards from time to time. Figure out what works for you and your family and how you can achieve that without stepping on each others boundaries. You dont need to follow ‘Indian’ or ‘Western’ standards. Do what makes you satisfied and happy – again – can’t stress on this point enough – WITHOUT OVERSTEPPING YOUR BOUNDARIES.

    Not always will you get exactly what you want, but atleast you are in control and not following some diktat put into place by people you dont really care about.

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  19. 1. – Grandparents i.e. old people should stay on their own?
    Yes, may be somewhere nearby till the time they can. My grandparents bought an apartment near by and they had help and we were all nearby . When grandfather passed away , she went and lived in rotation with all her children.
    2. – Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?
    It is not about not having a say. Of course, they can contribute and give advise, but to interfere in the parenting process will be wrong. There is a boundary and there are limits. They have had their turn bringing up babies , now it is some one elses. As long as they respect that and are okay if their advice does not get taken it is fine.
    3. – Like in western society kids should move out of the house?
    Well , why not? Moving out gives a sense of responsibility and helps growing up. I think I grew up the most when I left the country and had to fend for myself. I am not saying it is good or bad, of course, they will save a lot more money and be there at home. I tell all the younger folks I meet , it is important they go out and live in another city by themselves for a while : 1-2 years at least so they know how to manage themselves, and get to know themselves better. My sister has lived all around the country and at home whenever she had a transfer to home”city”. She learnt to manage herself when she was away.
    4. – I have even seen suggestions about young couples moving out of the house right after marriage so that husband-wife get to know each other. Fair enough. Should that be the only way? It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.
    No one asks the younger couples to move miles away. It is important to live alone the first few years : most definitely. How much ever the two knew each other before a wedding , living together as couple brings with it a whole set of new issues , each one’s philosophies about managing a house and those small whims and quirks you don’t see before. They could live near the parents , a few blocks away and be there for them. No one is asking the couple to abandon the parents.
    5. – Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful? Looks like we are just letting what westerns do – without understanding the full repercussion of it.
    Well , I totally disagree here. I was having a similar convo with my mother about this. I do not see anything wrong with premarital sex or what repercussions they have. As long as you use contraception , you are good. There is no question or faithfulness either , u are unfaithful only when u are sleeping with one person while being involved with another. Indian society places way too much importance on this. I think all the taboo placed on sex in fact makes a lot people more desperate and sometimes promotes a very unhealthy attitude.

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  20. I am so sick of the “only Indians have any values”. Every culture respects elders, every culture values “family values” – Indians are not the ones to have invented it.

    That said, why is change such a huge problem? My mother is “elderly”( she would kill me if she knew I called her that, well she is retired) and is a widow and lives alone- with her dogs- and would not have it any other way. So much for taking care of “poor old ” parents. In my case, it would be worse for her- and for the record, her parents lived on their own too- they preferred their Independence and everyone respected them for it.

    And love and sex are not synonyms. One can have a ton of sex with multiple partners and still be faithful when one decides to be monogamous. Also the marriage contract does not magically make things better. People have been known to have extra-marital affairs even if they were very married.

    And I believe families are not essentially defined by bonds of blood or marriage. Families consist of the people one is close to . Sometimes it can be friends also.

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  21. Its strange in-spite being part of a society that depends on various entities to enable run our lives smoothly, we are not able to formulate a common ground with our own family members.

    Does it always has to be coercion and force, either from the children or from the parents? This just shows how much we don’t trust each other. Funny way of living.

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  22. 1. Grandparents can stay on their own…why not…I had written a post earlier on what would be the best situation….we stay in the same town as the parents/in laws but in different houses…if the grand parents want the grand kids we drop them over and if we want them to help us out, we drop the kids over🙂 I think its a win-win situation since everyone gets their privacy and stuff

    2. Grandparents should have a say in their grandchildren..but it should stop at ‘having a say’ it should not become ‘what I say is right and I have brought up children so I know better than you’ Sorry, I wont agree to that…I will definitely listen and respect your views, but whether to abide by them to bring up my child is my decision!

    3. Why shouldnt kids move out of the house…I think I like that concept a lot…unless its a really really geniune case (of illness or financial issues), why should a kid NOT move out…being independent is one of the best things one can do to oneself….why depend on your parents? Give them their space and get your space

    4. If the girl’s/boy’s parents need a helping hand and the couple still wants privacy, I would suggest perhaps appointing a help..if thats not feasible, may be just live in the nearby locality where you are just a shout away?

    5. Why do we look get so hyper about pre-martial sex…I dont think there is anything wrong with it as long as its not forced, you are follow safe sex rules and you are enjoying it…Whats faithfulness got to do with pre martial sex…if I was in a relationship with someone before marriage and I had sex and then I got out o

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  23. OMG. I just can’t believe that people have to be so nosy in matters not concerning themselves. What’s wrong with premarital sex? Can’t people who love each other be faithful? It’s no big deal! And as for married couples being “allowed” to go out together, what I don’t uunderstand is, these are two adults we are talking about, who may soon be parents themselves. Even birds grow up and have to build their own nests. We don’t see 3 generations of birds sitting in one nest. What sort of message are you sendinh your kids when s/he knows that her parents don’t have full authority yet even after being adults, but are only “allowed” some say in their own lives?

    And what’s there to debate about? Western culture is not all bad and Indian culture- ha ha. Any culture which cares for only half its people is bad. Why should I follow any “culture” if it doesn’t benefit me? No two family situations are the same. It’s a shame when people get on to feminist blogs and try to paint ’em as bad.

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  24. My MIL lives with us, for the reason that my FIL is no more, and there is just no point in her living alone when we are in the same city. I find that acceptable.
    However, while she does have a say in things, it is us who take the final decisions at home, which is just fair. About the grandchild as well, honestly, once again, she is free to voice her opinions, but the final decisions are parents, which is not being obstinate, but just natural!
    My parents are moving to the same city, to be closer to us, but since they have to live within their means, they are not in the same building or complex , because of feasibility issues. I think that is fine too. However, I am sure if my parents were also dependent on me, I would ensure that they were treated exactly how my MIL is treated currently, and I am sure the husband would have the same thoughts.
    In short, while I totally would want privacy, and my way of living, and bringing up my kids, I would perhaps draw the line at wanting someone old staying alone, or away just because it is comfortable for us.
    About pre-marital sex, I mean seriously, to each his own, I think more than enough’s been said about that!

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  25. Joint families in India will not work until the either the older generation realizes that its not their life anymore or when the younger generation realizes that they’ve all grown up and they need to cut the umbilical cord.

    The forums here in the USA too are full of complaints about nosy MILs etc, but the difference between here and India is that, the DIL can put her foot down when the MIL crosses the line and no one is going to fault her for it here. Whereas in India parents don’t think of kids as humans at all, here we OWN our kids, like they are cattle or property. After 4 decades of being ruled by the English, we still do not know the meaning for words like “privacy” and “boundaries”.

    And, just not physically staying in the same house too is not enough sometimes, unless the husband and wife realize that their marriage is theirs alone and in a marriage more than 2 will always be a crowd whether its parents, siblings, relatives or infidelity. I’m not being cynical but I know living 10,000km away can do nothing to break the hold some families have on their kids sometimes. The weekly 15 minute phone call is enough for some parents to keep their kids under control.

    Why is it that we Indians abhor retirement communities or old assisted living arrangements. Lets face it, people in India work long hours too and for people living in major cities their commute times are only increasing. So the actual time anyone could realistically spend taking care of elders is very less. So how is living in a retirement home any different than staying in the same home and just seeing the children for maybe an hour everyday.

    Also, with advances in science, medicine and technology people are living longer and diseases and conditions that were once fatal can now be managed as “chronic” and “long term”. Sometimes it becomes impossible to take care of someone with a long term or chronic illness who requires specialized care and even if the decision was made to have that person at home, who bears the burden. Its the woman in almost all of the cases. Why do we feel that kids need to become “Shravan Kumar” to prove their love and loyalty to their parents.

    Sex + teenagers = NO NO in my opinion, only because very high hormone levels, combined with faulty or no contraception, and half baked knowledge of sex results in horrible diseases for both partners or a very bad outlook for teenage mom and baby most of the time.

    Sex between consenting unmarried adults = none of my business

    Marry or not– I think a good strong marriage/ partnership is one of the most beautiful things that a man or woman can ever experience in life. A good marriage can make one soar and a bad marriage can make one really sore,
    I know many feel a piece of paper or ritual does not have to define the love they have for their partners, but I say what the heck, if i didn’t believe in marriage, but my partner wanted the ceremony, I would jump right in if it made my partner happy.

    Also, I’d rather consider men and women to be equivalent, like the letter writer mentioned they are different biologically, and men too have a few challenges like god forbid if some poor man did not want to join the rat race and instead wanted to be a home maker. We have some choice names for guys like that.

    And lastly, about forcing the woman to carry a baby or abort one, if its wrong for a husband to force his wife to give him a kidney if he needed one, then its wrong for him to force his wife to give him a baby if he wanted one.Thats it end of discussion.

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  26. Some clarification to the original mail to IHM:

    The views in that e-mail are not necessarily my views, it is the impression I got from the comments on the blog on what we are proposing for the brave new family. Some questioning only to see that am I understanding it correctly. Some bullet items are illustration of the proposed/hypothetical (hope to achieve) new social order. At the end of this discussion, atleast I hope to see some clarity on what we hope to have as our next new generation atleast in the Indian context.

    I din’t mean to say that doing pre-marital sex is being unfaithful. Of course, before the marriage contract was signed (so as to say) none of what was done before can be questioned. Well that is different matter that we still worry about deeds in the past that might have an impact in the life to come (old flame, etc) but that is a different discussion. In my comment I mean to say that on one hand we are saying pre-marriage sex is OK (and obviously not just with your partner whom you will marry but anyone), on the other hand we are also wanting that after marriage S/He should be be faithfully to only your partner whom you are marry. Does anyone see the difficulty?
    It is like tasting blood. First you seem to have a kind of free reign and then we want to get in control (post marriage) and so it becomes difficult.

    Pre-marital sex as in western society (and it seems it was also there is Indian society according to some commentators), but the point is- it hasn’t really helped things in the western society either so why people believe it is going to improve things here? Teenage sex & abortions, etc are harrowing stories as one of the commentator pointed out. How does it help? Maybe first thing we need is a society that is open about sex education, etc at the first place so that they know what they are getting into. Sex is a beautiful thing and if treated with respect it could fill an adolescent (or anyone) with bliss, but I don’t think it is practiced that often even in matured adults. Someone even mentioned that sex & love are independent. Is it? Love without sex, maybe you can sustain a life since pure love will really provide for the need for sense (in the strong spiritual sense), but sex without love, without intimacy , I don’t know of any that can do good to anyone, even the practising partners. It is like symptomatic relief!

    Also, I know from my friends first hand (American parents not desi-american) who believe sex only with committed partners or ideally only after marriage was a better approach. So there are some who find the Indian systems beautiful. In any case this is so very subjective. I’m only giving this to encourage a discussion not to take one side or the other.

    Personally if it was possible I would say sex with any willing partners should be allowed at any stage of life provided they do it with responsibility and fully understand the complications. And word faithful as related to sexual infidelity should be abolished in the society.

    I see lots of useful discussion on the grand parenting issue. I personally would find it difficult for me or my spouse’s parents to be alone in their old age unless that is what they for their independence which I would respect. And at the same time if they were staying with me (either parents) I would really wish they fairly comply with our rules of the house. I believe this would naturally depending on the dependency of them on you.

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    • Indian system u r talking about was not unique to India. It was the prevalent system in feudal societies as paternity decides the inheritance. It was the fear of breakdown of the patriarchal inheritance system that made sex before marriage a taboo.
      As economic system changed, Patriarchy weakened and women also started to get right to inheritance. Science developed and reliable contraceptive devices were introduced. Thus Patriarchal chastity laws became irrelevant.
      You can’t go back in time even you want to. That happens only in films. We can’t bring back slavery, feudalism or monarchy.

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  27. Hey misunderstood, you really have misunderstood the concept of premarital sex. Before one is married or in a committed relationship with another person, the person is free to have sex with any other consenting adult. But once you are in a relationship sex outside of that relationship is frowned upon.

    I can understand that sex is sometimes just sex, but sex between partners in a relationship is such an intimate thing that, when one person cheats, its not the physical act of intercourse that matters, but the betrayal, loss of trust and respect. Of course couples may have other kinds of arrangements by mutual consent and such arrangements may be working fine for them. But in most societies when one is in a committed relationship, married or not, its never okay to have sex outside of your relationship.

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  28. No patriarchy or matriarchy system. But does this mean nuclear family should be the order of the day without grandparents?

    No it doesn’t mean that it has to be a nuclear family. I don’t particularly like how we subscribe to the idea of a nuclear family (husband, wife and two kids). In reality, a family needs a lot of support from other members whether it is grandparents, friends, uncles, aunts or whoever.

    The grandparents shouldn’t take it for granted that they can stay with their son/daughter and grandchildren. Who belongs in a household has to be discussed and decided. For example, a household can have husband, wife, children and the wife’s maternal aunt.

    If you are a part of such a household, you cannot assume that you have some sort of authority just because of your previous experience of raising children or because of your age. All the members in the household are on more or less equal ground. For example, you cannot just veto the plans about what you (as a group) can do this weekend. The more members you add to the household the more complex it gets. And not all people are willing to deal with that. So yeah, you cannot expect to go live with your grown-up children unless they want to as well.

    1. – Grandparents i.e. old people should stay on their own?

    I don’t think grandparents have to stay on their own. But they can’t expect to rely on their children to take care of them in their old age. Children are not the insurance you buy for old age care. See above.

    2. – Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?

    You have raised your own children. So let them raise their own. I don’t think grandparents should have much say in how their grandchildren are raised. It comes with all the disclaimers: the parents are not abusive or grossly neglectful of their children.

    From my personal life: I love my grandfather. But even to this day (I’m in my late twenties, my parents in their fifties, grandfather in his eighties) he orders us around what we (my brother, cousin and I and my parents and my aunt and uncle) should or should not do “for our own good.” Not that we follow his every word, but it has created a lot of friction in the family. I recently confronted him about this. I told him that he can’t dictate how we live our lives and we are not kids anymore. He can’t forever be afraid that we’ll make mistakes and fall down. He has to let go of our hands and let us fall down so that we can eventually learn to walk and run.

    3. – Like in western society kids should move out of the house?

    Not all western societies are the same. In the US, it’s expected that the kids would move out of the parents’ house when they go to college. But this is not so in Germany. I know several people in their mid-to-late twenties living with their parents. But there is a noticeable difference between the adult children living with parents in India and those in Germany. I found that those in Germany are more responsible with house chores (laundry, cooking sometimes, gardening) and paying bills (like electricity, phone) than their counterparts in India. I guess I should clarify that I am talking about unmarried adult children. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t dating or not having sex.

    4. – I have even seen suggestions about young couples moving out of the house right after marriage so that husband-wife get to know each other. Fair enough. Should that be the only way? It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.

    From your post, it seems as if you assume that it’s a child’s responsibility to take care of hir parents in their old age. I don’t think it’s the case. Like I said earlier, you can’t impose your needs on your children. If your child and hir spouse would like to live with you and you with them as well, then it’s fine. It’s a two-way thing. If either party doesn’t like it, then it’s off.

    5. – Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful? Looks like we are just letting what westerns do – without understanding the full repercussion of it.

    Pre-marital sex (or even extra-marital sex, you know there’s polyamory) does not mean that someone is being unfaithful. But what I think is important in a relationship are love and open communication.

    Like

  29. Pingback: And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  30. Pingback: “I thought it would indeed be wonderful to live with my in-laws.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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