Saturday, March 10, 2012

India's "joint families" and its population woes!

Before I even start this, I will take a few words to say to all those who live in joint families that I am aware of our "culture" of extended families staying together. I feel its a beautiful concept of togetherness that has many advantages...the commentary below is just that-a personal commentary based on my observations. 

What two concepts am I proposing to connect? Who one lives with does not at all effect one's choices regarding family planing. Or maybe, it does. And much more deeply than you think.

Sociologically, the Indian son never grows up. The daughter does-she attains puberty, and her roles change, she gets married, and she leaves her house and her parents, she gets new roles (and lots of "responsibilities"), she becomes a mother (and is told that it is only then that she is "complete"), etc. etc.
So yes, she evolves in our society, but the son will always remain the infantile son.

He stays with his parents throughout his life. His mother takes care of him till he gets a wife to do that. If he is earning an independent income, it is usually put into a family account and he has to ask his parents for a pocket money. If he is not earning an independent income, that is also just fine. And THIS is where I connect the joint family to our population woes.

The Indian sons and daughters are married off "at a certain age". This is usually irrespective of where they stand professionally, or even psychologically. Additionally, marrying sons off is seen as a way to get the sons "under control". Just like having babies is seen as a way to resolve marital conflicts.

If only the sons too were allowed to grow up. If they did not have their parents' household ready to move in a wife whenever the mother felt the need for a bahu, things would have been different.
The son would then grow up become to be a man. He would first take care of his work, his bank balance, a place to live, etc. before getting married. This would delay his marriage to when he is mature enough to understand the meaning of being in a wedlock, to when he understands his responsibilities towards his wife.

This would further delay childbirths as he would also now understand the having children has a purpose more than giving his parents entertainment and heir. He would have them when he feels he is ready to take good care of them, just like he got married when he felt he was ready for the role.

The men with such character with also tend to respect their wives and their decisions regarding family planning, and not blindly follow his oedipal instincts and follow the mother's instructions towards such private matters. This maturity and sense of responsibility in men shall have a cascading effect on our population statistics. Not only will the children be born late, they will also be fewer in number.

Joint families were meant for strong emotional support. However, bringing up your son to become so pathologically dependent on you that he has no productivity or a sense of purpose or responsibility is a crime many families are committing against their sons. And to clarify, this is prevalent across economic classes.

Seriously, just because your father's business is doing well does not mean you are ready to take on responsibilities of a married life. Let alone those of a father.

Get a job. Get a life. Control Population.


  1. Great thought , and I think slowly the society is actually moving towards that trend also.... I see sons coming out of the family deciding their jobs , finding themselves a partner who will understand them and also their families and then making a right choice or decision about their future..... But what I want to point out here is that sometimes especially in love marriages not every one turns out to be lucky, they are forced to marriage by their girlfriends or are forced to take up a decision of leaving them..... at this point whose maturity should be questioned.

    1. Hi Rish,

      There are lot of aspects of the society and the trends which can be questioned. I feel no one should be forced into anything, let alone marriage or leaving their family.
      Having said that, my current stress on the maturity and responsibility of the man is towards family planning and population control, and only towards that.

    2. With respect to what you have said "maturity and responsibility of the man is towards family planning and population control"..... Don't you think the point which I have put also holds significance as the desire to have SEX is way greater in Males and hence Owing to pressure from girlfriend or counter part if a guy decides to get married how can you stop him from basic sexual desire. And even though if he is taking precautions it might just lead to pregnancy..... My Point here is only this much that Family or Joint family alone cannot decide a maturity of a MAN it is equally controlled or determined by his counter part.

    3. Firstly, desire to have sex cannot be a reason to get married. 17 year old boys would be desirous.
      Additionally, his counterpart had not brought the man up. His personality, thinking style, etc. depend upon the family he has grown up with. And moreover, by the time he gets married (legally) most of it is crystallized.
      His further behaviour may be affected by the wife, I agree. But in the setup I talk about here, it is usually governed by his parents.