The Troubles of Living In a Joint-Family System

It's not all sunshine, rainbows and quality time!

Fiction has spoiled many of us for life.

This author’s idea of a joint-family system was highly utopian; grandmother bakes cookies, someone is always ready to lend a sympathetic ear, save you when you get into funny scrapes, choreographed, synchronized wedding dances, huge shopping trips, family vacations etc. This author also knows for a fact that she wasn’t the only one who extensively labored under these delusions, planted chiefly by literature and cheesy movies. Not that this author regrets her reading habits, suffice it to say, here’s what living in a joint family actually feels like!

Based on extensive research, careful observation, and endless scrutiny, this author concludes that living in a joint family system that follows fairly collectivist ideals is not very helpful, no matter how tempting the quality time with your entire family might seem. The truth is, most of the times your grandma won’t be found making cookies, though you will see her hawk-like eyes on every household activity, your cousins probably won’t be saving your skin when you get into trouble since most of them have recently developed remarkable, Sherlock Holmes traits and the chances of there being a huge family dinner with no one pointing out the character flaws of another are pretty low, if I may say so myself.

While that is certainly not the case every time, it’s fairly common in many Pakistani households where living in a collectivist system means that your problem is literally eveyone’s problem.

It cannot be denied that this is sometimes excessively helpful but in many instances, you will find that your parents rarely have a chance to make a decision about your life, something as little as you, wanting to go out with your friends, without your relatives poking their nose in and departing their rarely sage bits of advice. The lack of privacy is not only troublesome but can exhaust you – having to explain your choices to literally everyone in the house.

Lack of privacy aside, living in a joint system also means that you get to witness a lot of fights which leads to a certain disenchantment. You lose your gullibility way too soon and learn the harsh ways of the world when you’re forced to witness constant tension in the house as a result of a fight that may have been started over literally nothing at all. One does get tired of listening to your parents malign a certain relative after a fight, you lose valuable leadership skills since no one lets you make the decisions anyway, many family members stop contributing to the household simply because they feel as if there is no need for them to work since everyone else can suffice on their own.

Not to mention that the unconscious resentment that lies beneath the exterior of a joint-family can cause a lot of unhappiness to those living within it; after all, having to meet the same people you so bitterly fought with, the next day is certainly painful.

What is your opinion on this? Are joint-family systems really as successful as we’ve been taught to think or is there more to it than what meets the eye?

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