Indian Family Life And Values

Indian family life & values: a narrative of the joint family system and matrimonial arrangements among Indian families.

Even though India is a country made up of numerous religions and communities of people, the basic values and systems of family life remain similar. Even today people don't believe in family planning and treat children as gifts from God. Sons are always more preferred than daughters because daughters are expensive to bring up. They don't earn money for the family and in addition, have to be given a lot of dowry when they get married. Sons normally earn money for the family and support their parents during their old age.

Marriage of daughters traditionally is arranged with boys from the same community. Normally, the parents of the prospective spouses get together either through a common relative or through a matchmaker. The families discuss each other's backgrounds and work out the modalities of the bondage. Traditionally, the boy's family would negotiate with the girl's family for dowry. The higher the amount of dowry the better the proposal. Nowadays, although the dowry system has subsided among the educated people, girls are always sent to their in-laws homes with large sums of money, beautiful saris, jewelry and other valuables. All these things are in effect dowry given with niceties and no negotiation. Children are usually married in order of age i.e. the older child is married off before the younger child. However, when the siblings are a son and a daughter, even though the daughter is younger, the son has to normally wait for the daughter to be married off. Of course, if there is a very vast gap between the ages of the siblings, the son is allowed to marry first.

The family usually consists of the man, his wife, their kids, the man's parents and unmarried sisters, if any. The man has to necessarily make his parents live with him and has to look after them. The man's wife, the daughter-in-law of the house treats her parents-in-law as her own parents and calls them "˜Mummy' and "˜Daddy' or "˜Papa'. She has to get along with her unmarried sisters-in-law, if there are any. The man plays a very crucial role in balancing egos and satisfying everyone. He has to please his parents and his wife and tackle any situation of a conflict between the two. The daughter-in-law is often a homemaker and might not be allowed to go out and work. She cooks for the family, supervises the other chores done by a domestic servant and looks after the needs of her parents-in-law. When she has children, she completely immerses herself in looking after them and bringing them up. Meanwhile, her husband is the earning member whose sole duty is to bring the booty home.

Family life has its own advantages and disadvantages. If the parents-in-law don't get along with the daughter-in-law or if the daughter-in-law is not able to get along with her unmarried sisters-in-law, there are lots of emotional tensions and the man has to cope with it skillfully. Also, if there are two brothers, both married and living with their families under the same roof, there is the question of three families getting along - the parents-in-law and the families of the two sons. Usually, in a situation like this, the elder son and his wife are given more respect and importance and have more responsibilities to shoulder.

However, the main advantage of living life in this system is that the children get to learn a lot from their grandparents. Besides, if there are two brothers with their families living together, the cousins i.e. the children of the two brothers grow up together just as real siblings. The children grow up with a strong sense of security and stability.

The family system is given a lot of importance in India and has worked more often than not.

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