Well I can understand that the concept of joint family is prevalent only in countries like India and many from Western part of the world don't know what this really is. Just recently, one of my friends (doctor colleagues) from Europe asked me, "How can you people live with your elders? Doesn't it give you an oppressed feeling all the while?" My answer was simple- "How can you people live all alone in a nuclear family?"
This is not to boast of my abilities to go along well with my elders at home. We do have differences of opinion at times. Rather, when any 2 or more people live together, there are going to be differences, but the fact is that we rejoice in those differences. What fun the life is if you don't have someone to voice your opinion to? Just that we should make this voicing of opinion an art to gain experience than to just fight for no cause.
When we dwell deeply on the concept of joint family (that was kind of natural in early days of man), we realize the benefits. The foremost benefit according to me is- You never feel alone in your life! You always have someone to look up to in odd times. I certainly understand that for a good clap, you need two hands. Similarly, for a joint family to run smoothly, as much as youngster's contribution is needed, more is needed from the elder counterpart as well. Perhaps, elders are the people (in our country at least) who have seen lots of ups and downs. Days were not as good as now then, perhaps on various fronts including finances. But they have also seen some of the very close familial bonds that today's generations miss out on.
Second point according to me is from our children's point of view. Not only we look up to elders for mere their help in our children's case but they give children a strong foundation as to how a household runs. Their close bond with their grand-children is one of the most attractive benefits of a joint family. You can completely rely upon them when it comes to your child's safety and good upbringing. This is when the elders' contribution counts beyond imagination as it gives our children a secure family net.
And the thing that I am passionate about thrives in joint family, if you have a healthy bond- "Health!" Yes, when you don't feel lonely, when you have people to solve your problems, when you share your household work-load with someone, and when there is 'no time' for the stress to crop up in life, you tend to live quite healthily than when you live alone or in a nuclear family.
When I often talk about my joint family, some of the acquaintances call me lucky because my in laws are supportive and despite being under the same roof all the while, I don't complain. Well, I totally agree being lucky in this regard. Perhaps I often say that if I wouldn't be living in the joint family, I would never be able to start and propagate my website www.drshreya.com to such great extent. As I felt secure at home, I could do it. But I would also like to say that we, the daughters in law, should kind of stop being too contemplative of our elders' activities. If we respect our parents and if we like to see our parents in a joint family with their sons and daughters in law, we should respect our in laws as well, not only for their supportive job but for their differences as well. If we don't like our parents living a lonely life in their twilight years, we should never allow the people who have welcomed us in their family do the same.
I know it's not easy. But once you make up your mind to accept some defeats and honor the wins on the way, you can do it. Always weigh the positive aspects to the negative aspects and I am sure the positive aspects will far outweigh the negatives.
I would certainly wish that throughout our country or perhaps the world, the old tradition of joint family should again find its most deserved place! Human being is born to live socially and our society starts with our kith and kin!