Are Grandparents Burden to Modern Social Life?
Old age should not be considered an age of inactivity. Grandparents can look after the kids in a much better way than young parents who have little time to spare. Pressures of modern living have given birth to nuclear families, but disadvantages outweigh the comforts and freedom of life with minimum responsibilities. The concept of family is as old as the civilization itself. It was considered indispensable for the health and happiness of a civilized society. No relationship can be as intimate and fulfilling as in a family. In the words of a social activist, family acted as a complete security check to the family and to the grandchildren whose parents were working. Now, however, the old parents have been marginalized. All thanks to our telephone electronic media culture, which people feel, can keep them closer to their parents even if they are not living together.
A household consisting of grandparents, husband, wife, children, sisters, and brothers used to go through troubled times. In such an atmosphere, the joys were doubled and sympathy of family members ameliorated sorrows and shocks. In case of illness or disaster, the family proves a sheet anchor of comport. When a man is very ill, battling for life, it is the wife - even the estranged one - who performs the duty for nursing better than any professional of other paramedical staff. Sociologists have found that even an illiterate mother with her naturally over-flowing love and affection bring up children much better than any professional agency with all correct medical care following all the rules in the textbooks.
However, the institution of the family got somewhat shaken under the impact of western culture and under circumstances which compelled the family members to migrate to distant towns and even to foreign countries, to seek fortunes. And, with the passage of time, the tradition of joint family has given way to nuclear family. People in search of a better future with fewer responsibilities easily quit the age-old tradition of joint-family where everyone lived under one roof.
Nuclear family mode brings a dream world where there are minimum restrictions on women folk and complete freedom for every individual to grow the way he/she wants to. Nevertheless, there is another side to the story. According to sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad, Joint family acted as the psychotherapy unit, by resolving the internal conflicts in the family. Unlike today, earlier nobody could think of a divorce, which is on the rise at an alarming rate as a couple depends more on friends for advice, which can't be as sincere as the one coming from parents. People are becoming more status conscious than before.
The family was stable till the time a woman remained a housewife and was content with her lot. She gave her best to the family. But with the growing demands of modern standards of living, single-hand earning has become less sustaining. And once the woman steps out, she does not want to play the second fiddle i.e. a housewife. The growing consumerism has further affected one's attitude towards family which, in many ways, is leading to the weakening of family bonds. The relations in a nuclear family are often acrimonious in the absence of the warmth in the relationships. Change in the living style and the social behavior of the people has played havoc with the family system. Old parents have been marginalized; they are treated no better than the servants to look after the kids. The parents are looked upon as a burden. They are considered to have lived out there life. But the facts speak otherwise. Old age should not be considered an age of in activity. They are more experienced than others in worldly wisdom. Grandparents can look after the kids in a much better way than the young parents who have little time to spare.
But slowly things are changing. People are realizing the value of the joint family system. Western society saw the fragmentation of the joint family system, but it is now reverting to the old system. As we follow the west, we should realize the values of joint family system. People become old. Respecting their wisdom, knowledge, grace and fortitudes should teach younger generations. We should realize that it is important to respect our elders as they have so many things to impart to us, which will help us ease our journey throughout life. They should always be respected just as you want to be respected.
Challenges for reconstruction
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Apil KC/Keshab Sharma
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