• Ma,am,

    I am living in a joint family since the day I got married and by joint family I just don’t mean parents, me and hubby. I have a brother-in-law who got married three years back and is on his family way, I have a five year old toddler. Some of the points that you raised here are pretty thought provoking but here are some of my questions, and I am still searching for their answers even after ten years of my marriage and becoming a mom in between.
    1. You said give them money so that they are not dependent on their children, but in my case when I got married my husband was giving his entire salary to his mom and then asking for money from her, as and when required. I have no objection to that and I know that my hubby does not squander money, whatever he takes is utilised in bringing stuff for home like milk, bread, eggs among other things yet if he asks for money she will say spend it wisely N, you are spending too much these days. He is not spending on himself then why this advice? Since past few years, as my son likes to give the money to his papa his grandmother tells him to advice this to his papa for not spending the money foolishly.
    2. All four of us sit with them after coming from the office. So much so that initially when I got married my hubby used to ignore me and head straight to his mom’s room. But they never said this to their sons that you are newly married you should spend some time with your wives as well.
    3. We celebrate their anniversary and birthdays but they always say we don’t believe in all this.
    4. Books for my mom-in-law is nothing but useless stuff occupying some precious place in her home that needs to be sold so that some money can be earned.
    5. She feels her home is the best and does not like to go out anywhere. She feels that there should be no privacy between parents and children.
    6. Doesn’t have a hobby and doesn’t want to cultivate one. Loves to watch ayurvedic and horoscope related programmes on TV.
    Despite all this they say that we don’t listen to them (especially daughters -in-law). I just want to ask that don’t we have our own lives. We do everything they expect us to do but the moment we try to do our own thing they are ready with their disagreements.

    Simple example to this is my current situation. My company closed down due to some financial crisis and I am at home. Since I am a journalist I have no dearth of freelancing work but my problem is that when my son is awake I can’t open my laptop without him coming to me and asking me to show him nursery rhymes or whatever he wants to see. Hence I wake up at 2:00 am and work for four hours till 6:00 am when I get up to prepare morning tea and breakfast for those leaving for office. She has a problem with that as well. I understand that she is concerned about my health but when I have reassured her then she should leave me alone no?

    Yes, we are living in a joint family and though the house is in my father in law and my husband’s name I still feel that it is their home and I need to have my own home. My brother in law’s house has been booked and will be completed in two years time and then they will shift.

    Despite all these problems we will never opt for old age homes for our in-laws.

  • I totally agree with Swati, I know one shouldn’t leave their parents un-attended when they’re old, but as you’ve listed your points above, we should have such a list for parents as well. It has to be a situation of mutual understanding & respect.

    Besides I don’t know why we expect so much from our kids, I have a 2.5 year old daughter, I won’t want to tell her “We’ve done so much for you… and what have you done for your parents”. Let love, respect, care… everything come from within. No points can be enough to improve your relationship with anyone, leave aside your parents…

  • Yamini Vijendran

    What when a son does all the of the things listed above, but the father still treats him as a stranger? What when the father gets drunk and wanders on the streets and comes home and foul-mouths the daughter-in-law and mishandles the child?

    Old age is to be respected yes, but there is only a limit till which narcissism can be tolerated, even by the most patient of people.

  • Madhu

    Hi, I live in a joint family along with my parents in law, brother in law and his wife. In the same house, at a different floor, I have my uncle in law and his wife. I won’t say, life is perfect or there are no ups and downs but you must be matured enough to understand it and deal with it and do not complain all the time. I am Thankful to God, that I have a family which is broadminded and understand their kids their freedom and as children we also do the same. We often go out together but also have our share of time as a couple. I keep hearing stories from my Mom-in-law (I consider her as my own mother as I lost mine when I was very young) as how she used to take care of her family when she was of my age. So, now its her turn to be taken care of. I am Thankful that I have parents, who do not treat their daughter in laws as typical “BAHU” . When I get something for my in laws and they appreciate it, I feel escalated and gives me immense satisfaction. We as a younger lot should understand their needs, their freedom and believe me they will understand yours as well.
    Life is a full circle, so as you treat your parents today, your kids watch you and they will do exactly the same. Love and affection can only make your family happy and bring you much needed “PEACE”. Just one small piece of suggestion, do not think too much about a particular incident as that takes away your happiness. If your parents scold you or object you at any time, think when they actually cared, cooked your favourite dish and booked a holiday for you. We just have to ignore certain things and think what can be done better to improve our lives. Remember if you are happy, you can make others happy. If we care for our parents today, tomorrow our children will care for us.

  • Anil D Chawla

    Mrs Menon has given a long list of do’s and dont’s for the children and in what way they should ensure that the grandparents / parents are kept happy. But there is abosolutely no mention of what grandparents and parents should do to make sure that there is a pleasant environment in the house.

    The system of joint family is breaking up precisely because parents and grandparents have a overbearing and intolerant attitude. At the same time the children are not sensitive to the needs of parents and grandparents and they have niether the time to take care of the needs of the elders. I feel both elders and children re equally responsible for creating a conducive environment in the house. As a senior citizen myself I find a lot of people in my category always complaining about there children. I would like to ask such elders have they not found anything good or positive in there children or grandchildren.

    In the final analysis , Children’s behaviour towards us depends on what kind of values we have inculcated in them when they were growing up. I strongly feel if children are not sensitive to our needs then to some extent we are also responsible as we may not have given them the right kind of upbringing.

  • balgopalmenon

    I am impressed by your lovely post. You have rightly said that youngsters have a sublime duty towards elders,Even though the other side is also true .The elderly parents should not shy away from their responsibilities,love and affection,moral duties etc. What lies down heavily is the two way current of unlimited love and affection!Ifsuch love pervades the whole atmosphere there will be no room for ifs and buts.

  • jyotsna suri

    I absolutely agree with Mrs Menons post. As per our Indian culture parents are the form of God on this earth for their children. They are divine and need to be revered. So what if they only fulfilled their ‘duty’ when they reared their children. What is important is that they did it with the utmost love and selflessness – always putting their children s need above theirs. Anything the children do for their parents is very small in comparison. Even if I am able to follow a few of the points given above to care for my parents I will think myself to be lucky. It goes without saying that love and respect flow both ways. The more we love and respect our elders the more will we receive and the same is true vice versa.