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Roles and Boundaries of extended families

Discussion in 'Married Life' started by Srama, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    This is in continuation with our Building Positivity in Relationships forum initiative.

    It was a nuclear family in the literal sense of the word I grew up in mostly because of dad's transferable job but there was always someone staying in the house - grandmothers from both the sides, one or two unmarried aunts or uncles, a cousin who found a new job in our city etc., not to add an aunt or an uncle in every street in the immediate 10 mile radius. News always reached my mom as to where I was if I ever sneaked out even very carefully :biggrin2:

    I wonder now if having so many aunts and uncles and more aunts and uncles (even explaining how they are related takes one full minute), not to forget the ones that lived with us, so close by affected my parent's marriage at all. They had a good life and with all their fights and disagreements they were still happy. Now, staying far away reflecting back often makes me wonder as to how they managed their extended families and relationships. I am only managing with social media, families I mean.

    But most of us have the experience - we either have extended families still close by or within the same house or have grown up in one. I am sure we have observed, seen how our parents managed or continue to set the boundaries for extended families and in the process found many practical solutions. Can we discuss some of the things we have seen, observed or practice now? As the dynamics of families change even further, may be this discussion will bring in more insights.
     
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    The automatic respect accorded by all to age and hierarchy in relationships helped. Plus, women had less 'sense of self' and very mostly genuinely happy to put others first. Also, the 'woman leaving mom's house' was not symbolic.
     
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  3. LotusAura

    LotusAura Gold IL'ite

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    Srama I have grown up in a joint family with my grandparents living with us; in fact for a long time I used to think that a true blue 'joint family' only meant living with uncles and aunts in the same house because grandparents were part of a 'nuclear' family as well.

    Just like you, we had scores of relatives (near and distant) living in the same city, some very close by. I remember there was hardly a day when we didn't have someone drop by unannounced, for a quick tea or even a full meal. They were always welcome. I used to sit along with my grandparents for hours getting regaled by their good old stories and anecdotes or just their plain hobnobbing with relatives. All this has been an important part of my growing up.

    And I don't remember my mother ever tied down to home and kitchen hopelessly despite living with grandparents and having guests over almost daily; she was and still is very social, has her social visits, shopping trips, calls on friends/relatives, etc.

    I think growing up with grandparents and surrounded by relatives has conditioned me to be a lot more tolerant with people in general and fairly relaxed about visiting in-laws or even random visiting relatives from both sides. It may inconvenience me somewhat but it doesn't rattle me as much. It helps that my husband grew up in a fairly similar environment and is very relaxed around people and basically handles people well.
     
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  4. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    I also have grown up in a joint family with aunts when my Dad was in Chennai. I dont remember much because I was below 6 yrs that time. Then we came to Hyderabad and stayed with my Dad's uncle(his mother's brother). We were a big family. His uncle's two sons, elder son's wife and kids, elder daughter with her two daughters and her elder daughter's husband and 3 sons. Our family , three brothers and we two sisters and our parents and my mother's mother. Enjoyable days we had with sweet memories. My Dad's uncle had gone abroad also . He used to teach many things. They stayed in a big colony and had two houses. As kids I had played there. My dad's uncle had a hotel and now also my mouth is watering thinking of those yummy idlies with milagapodi in it. I had many friends there. I think we were with my Dad's uncle till I was 10 yrs old. Once during Navratri Dad's uncle's grand daughter had made the building where we stayed with Card board. Those days they used to keep big twelve steps with a big garden.

    Then we stayed in another house , my grandmother also there wi thus. We always had many guests in our house. My grandmother was expert in cooking and whatever we wished for she used to make.

    I do not know whether I can write about the joint family after marriage.
     
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  5. gitasharma

    gitasharma Gold IL'ite

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    hai Srama
    ours was a a nuclear family in some sense and an extended one in yet another
    My grand mom thats fathers periyamma., fathers sister and her husband who was also my dads mama lived with us .we were 4 siblings the eldest was 18yrs older to me and after me had a sis 2 yrs younger and a brother 5yrs younger to me.
    My uncle lived close by and he had 10 children .
    apart from this we had cousins and relatives staying for days to weeks to yrs with us, they came either to study job hunt /spouse hunt /health issues etc.
    We lived in a big quarters english type as my father was a senior docter in the erstwhile nizam govt latter SC.Rly .we were one of the early settlers here
    where we wrer known as Bank sharmas family or Rly Doctor family.
    our house was anopen house with my mom caterring to every one so we grew up where no none left our house unfed.
    meals were always in large quantity. festivals /thevasams ( 2 that my appa did/and 3 that my athimbair did his parents as well as my patti"s husband as she had no children of her own.) Saturday Satsang for all children (family we & my 10 cousins and neighbours) followed by bhajanall night.
    so it was always a full house with merriment . My athey used to make garlands for all the Gods and for all of us too.and make our braids . beleive me the garlands would be more than 70-80 yds.Gardener use to pluck flowers. some I had to give in temple on the way to school.We had diff varities of malli( nitya malli , mulle gundu adka etc kanakambarams/ paijatham arli etc.
    Patti used to churn curds make butter ,cut some vegetables grind for Idli/ dosa/ ade etc
    amma used to cook for all So we were used to her cooking for so many without a wimper always smiling making making bakshanam sweets etc that today we feel what we are doing with all our gadgets is nothing .
    Apart from all this we had patients and their caretakers who would be with us all the patti"s and mami"s who came for the delivery of daughter /Dil . as ther were not many hotels and those days you stayed with people whom you knew and we had a big house so no issues close to hospital & rly stn as well.
    guess you ar getting a pic
    All the same my mom used to tae our lessons some times my older sis.
    mom & sis also used to teach stitching to wives of ward boys/ compounders /etc.
    Can you beleive they found time for all this and more.
    we literally used to have katchery at home late nights on saturday after dinner.my mom and athey vocal as well as veena /voilin respectively/ my chittappa mridangam. we children also would part take in some . I used to do bharathanatyam.
    all this till my father retired /my sis went abroad and I was in B.Sc.and till amma fell ill and slowly the viisitors tapered and life started changing.
    May be I shall write post amma appa latter.

    I
     
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  6. SGBV

    SGBV IL Hall of Fame

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    Starting from my grand mothers era... She lived in a complete joint family with so many aunts and cousins from both sides in addition to her parents and in laws lived near by.
    But I am yet to learn from any source that she was unhappy then despite of almost all the issues she faced there. In fact, she might have believed this is all what a woman could expect from her marriage. But she was happy.

    My mom lived in a nuclear family despite of having almost all her relatives as neighbors around her. I was growing up with my uncles, aunts and cousins all the time.
    It was always fun. We ate at different houses, slept at different houses and every middle aged women were our moms who cared for us. Every uncle displayed fatherly love, and every cousin were our sibling. It was one giant extended family, though technically we lived as nuclear family.
    That was a beautiful time, and I still cherish my childhood which my kids are missing now.
    But it has taken me 20 long years to understand my mom's pain, suffering, tears and fights against her SILs, co-sisters, BILs and others as her marriage life grew with all of them.
    She tells me how sharp some of the aunts, and how clever some of the uncles and how much she has to give in until she finally stood up for us. Her life was full of fights and competition though her husband was a gem. She always prefers a life away from relatives to enjoy.
    She was one strong woman who has strong self respect.

    Now I live with relatives. I face almost all the issues that my mom and grand mom faced although ours is still a nuclear family. What keeps me going is my independence which my older generation never had.

    This financial, social and emotional independence make me a stronger person despite of so many influences that comes through relatives. Like swan birds, I am able to take the best of being closely related, by carefully rejecting what is not necessary.
    I love this life
     
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  7. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Rihana,

    You bring out a valid point. Women growing to be more aware of themselves must make this topic even more interesting. Thank you for bringing that point forward.

    I cannot speak much on this as I am so far away but if I were surrounded by extended family perhaps, I would follow my mom's footsteps when it came to my kids' education.

    PS: Sorry about the delay in response, long weekend and all that!

     
  8. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear LotusAura,

    Thank you for such a lovely feedback. Looks like your parents being comfortable and your mom being herself has helped you understand, enjoy and perhaps even has helped you set some boundaries as far as extended families are concerned. I am sure this attitude of yours will help your children as well. We are social beings and we do thrive on love and affection we receive.
    This kind of understanding is what helps us better. Thank you for sharing.
     
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  9. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Of course aunty, go for it. I am sure there is a lot for us to learn and if it helps what more to ask.

    I can see how you are such a people's person growing up with people and relationships all the time in your life. It must be like a piece of cake for you, to handle :) Please do write when you get a chance.
     
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  10. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    ok Sabita dear I will write about it, there is so much to write about them because I remember everything because it was after marriage
     

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