Whenever we discuss a baby’s growth through its early years, one thing has been very clear – ‘nurture’ plays a big part in a baby’s development spanning physical, social, emotional, and mental dimensions. Family is central to all these dimensions as they make up the majority of natural stimuli a baby receives from its surroundings. Growing up in a joint family is certainly impactful to a baby’s growth, but before we get into that, let’s understand the social dimension of a baby’s growth & development.
How a baby growing up in a joint family affects their development
Social capabilities of a baby:
Babies are born as social beings, with social qualities built into their natural instincts. They begin to engage with and learn from their guardians from the time they are born. When babies imitate facial expressions, they are actually displaying an awareness of how another person’s actions connect to their own.
The fact of the matter is that babies respond enormously to social stimuli, which proves that a greater presence of such stimuli, particularly characteristic of joint families, positively affects the growth of a baby.
Is the relevance of a joint family still existent in the modern Indian household?
A joint family is a spectacular entity. The image of a joint family in our heads is one in which everyone eats together, laughs together, and supports one other in good and bad times. The joint family structure, like any other social institution, has strengths and drawbacks. Many people, however, recognize the value of a joint family. Even in this day and era of compact families, the joint family system exists and is still significant.
How a joint family positively impacts a baby’s growth?
Sense of belonging:
Growing up among cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents allows infants to interact with everyone and form deep relationships beyond just their primary caregivers. Particularly important is the bond with grandparents, which practically every youngster values. This is one of the most crucial attributes of a joint household.
When it’s a matter of performing household activities like cooking or cleaning, a large extended family has to work as a big team to get work done. Family members work together to ensure that duties are completed on time and, in some cases, ahead of schedule. With this kind of environment backing a new parent, they never have stress about other household tasks as there’s always another family member to depend on.
Learning family values:
A joint household is a great channel where several of the principles that parents desire to instill in their children are well taught and in a trustworthy environment. Babies learn various social virtues such as sharing and respect as they grow up among extended members of the family. Very importantly, they learn how to sympathize with others.
This family structure is especially a lifesaver for working parents who need someone dependable to be around their children in their absence. No caretaker, nanny, or friend can fulfill the role of a secondary caregiver as well as aunts, uncles, and grandparents as they can always be and have their best interests in mind.
Children raised in joint households grow up primarily among people their own age, which never makes them feel lonely. Children nowadays have a tendency to end up in poor company simply because they crave interaction. Joint families tend to fill this companionship void.
Society, but safer:
Children in joint families do not have to look outside their home. While providing camaraderie, joint families also foster a cultural environment that equips your child for life in the real world. Living in a joint family will expose your child to a variety of life-learning situations.
Are there any disadvantages to a joint family too?
No family structure that exists in the world is flawless, and a joint family is no exception. It is a common occurrence for joint families to face discord and conflicts. Decreased privacy and freedom are also an issue. Yet, there really are households who make the system work by delineating duties, appreciating one another while being supportive & encouraging. Finally, it comes down to what you want for yourself and your baby, as well as what is realistic.