Our Daddios Dr. Amit Kumar Uppal shares pros and cons of parenting in a joint family.
“Congratulations! You are blessed with a daughter”. The nurse walked up and pompously announced the news to me. I remember standing in that hospital corridor, probably frozen as her words fell upon my ears, not knowing how and what to respond.
The birth of my baby girl was the most awaited moment of my life. That moment when I held my little princess in my arms for the very first time, is one everlasting feeling which is still so fresh in my mind. Just the look of her sweet angelic face was enough for me to decide that I have to become the best father in the world for my little love.
I was all set and excited to take on the new role that life had bestowed upon me. Be it her wardrobe shopping to ordering diapers, exploring Firstcry to browsing home remedies for every trivial issue she had. From looking for various baby food recipes and trying out almost all of them to washing and ironing all her tiny pieces of laundry. I wanted to give a hand at everything that was in my capacity.
I was introduced to a lot of new things upon her arrival. There was not an ounce of doubt that everything about her and related to her gave me immense joy and happiness. But along with it also came challenging times of baby care. Sometimes, it was frustrating to be sleep-deprived and give her attention after coming back from a tiring day at the office. At times, when she would be unwell and we had to keep awake almost the entire night, handling things in office the next morning with equal energy would be quite daunting.
Pros and Cons of Parenting in a Joint Family
But honestly, I had a bit of relief here. I live in a joint family, yes a “JOINT FAMILY”. I believe the problems that I face in this regard, are not as hard as what they would have been if I was in a nuclear family. Along with me, I have my parents, my brother, and sister-in-law, and even my nieces who are big enough to babysit my daughter.
A joint family in my opinion is always bliss when it comes to caring for a small child, at least for working parents like us. When family members in the house lend a helping hand by taking care of some or many of the baby’s chores, the stress is so much lesser, especially for the mother. My wife did not have to think twice before rejoining her office after my daughter completed six months of age.
But like every coin has two sides, so does living and parenting in a joint family and taking care of a baby.
First, let’s talk about the positives. Support of other family members in taking care of a small baby is no less than a privilege. Many issues get sorted out very easily. The experience of parents and elders is such a boon when you have no idea what to do in a particular situation. I remember the first time my daughter woke up at night and started crying bitterly for no reason. I tried all the permutation combinations to calm her down but to no avail. She just would not settle down for anything. My wife and I were clueless and could not understand what to do. Suddenly my mother walked into the room. Her cries had finally woken everybody up in the middle of the night. She held my baby and pressed her stomach lightly as pediatricians often do. She immediately rushed to the kitchen and got some warm asafoetida solution and applied it to her stomach. To our surprise, my daughter peacefully fell asleep within minutes after that. I was so relieved and my mom seemed no less than a god to me that night. She later told us that it was a bout of colic.
This is just one of the many such incidents that have happened. Many times when my daughter is not feeling well, she gets cranky. But because she has a big family like mine where everybody is fun-loving, she forgets her pain or discomfort and enjoys playing around. I remember my wife joined her job back when my daughter was just six months old. My family members took care of our daughter so well that it was quite easy for both to adjust and deal with the separation anxiety.
Now talking about the challenges, I did face a few. It is pretty difficult to introduce modern parenting techniques in a family where everybody is so experienced with their age-old formulas of almost everything. Be it restricting the application of kajal in the eyes or giving the baby water to drink before six months, introducing solid foods before six months to letting her wear diapers. And yes, the concept of ‘Evil Eye’, I just fail to understand the logic. You somehow end up arguing on every second thing related to parenting and they are always ready with their first-hand answer, “we have also brought you up like this only and there has never been a problem with it”.
The birth, upbringing of a child, and parenting in a joint family have its own sweet and sour attributes. Although living each moment, watching and letting my princess grow in her own way is something I will always cherish.