Grandparents – Our Support System.
Excerpt from the book ‘Your Child is Your Parent’ by Manoj J Lekhi.
‘In-law’ is a wonderful term. It means that by law you have included them ‘in’ your life; it also means that they are now in your heart and that they are an integral part of the family. Unfortunately, most parents-in-law are treated as ‘out-laws’ by their children. In turn, the parents treat their son-in-law or daughter-in-law as an outsider to the family even though he or she is now a part of their family.
In fact, joint families, especially large joint families, can be a big boon as far as bringing up children effortlessly is concerned; such an environment gives them optimum knowledge and support in developing their brain (thinking capacity) to the maximum, effortlessly. Both paternal and maternal grandparents can be a great boon.
If one can understand this and adapt to this way of thinking and living, life can be really beautiful for all and emotionally secure for the child. Or else, it can become a challenging task for everyone, as is happening today.
A very simple example of how a large joint family can work towards helping the child’s brain to grow to its full potential is that of the child learning different languages. If there are ten members in a family and each one of them speaks to the child in a particular language, the child will pick up all the ten languages effortlessly. This cannot happen in a nuclear family where he does not have the exposure to so much variety.
A child who grows up in a joint family receives love from so many quarters that he does not cling to just one, or two, persons, whether the mother or the father, or both. He freely expresses his love to all around him. He is likely to be a much more open and friendly child who can express himself to various people easily. This is the result of having grown up in a joint family. Also, the child is likely to grow up emotionally secure more in a joint family than in a nuclear family. This is because a whole lot of people are available to him whenever he requires them.
Getting your in-laws involved in bringing up your child is one of the healthiest ways of having an emotionally secure child. Grandparents are a big force when it comes to instilling the right values and culture in a child. So, don’t exclude but include them in your child’s upbringing. Joint families can be great support systems and shock absorbers.
Today, the trend in the cities is more towards nuclear families than joint families. The constraints of space, time, tolerance and income levels make it so, to some extent. But a suitable compromise can be arrived at to allow living separately as a nuclear family, yet enjoying the benefits of a joint family.
It is possible by creating a tremendously strong bond with close friends, who are just like family. By not living together, each family stays out of the way of the other but is always there to support and strengthen if the need arises.
We have seen this happen in our Katharkhadak Rishi Gurukulam. The parents of all the children have grown very close to each other. In fact, they are even closer than how close relatives would be.
There is a definite advantage in this type of community living. We have, as of today (December 2012), 62 children living together. There are many parents also, living together and teaching. Each child has 61 friends and many ‘parents’. Such children grow up to be emotionally secure, which is perceptible even at this stage.