The Webster dictionary has many definitions for the word “family”. For me the one that held true for most of my life is “Family: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head”.
As a kid I was not comfortable being alone in the house for long periods. Though it mostly never came to that as there was always family around. Many a times I tried to get over this seemingly silly hang up but then consoled myself I don’t really need to as we had a full house.
Fast forward 30 years and I’m no longer the sacredly kid that I was. You see, now there is no way I can avoid being alone at home and even look forward to some alone time.
In a few sentences this is the evolution of Indian families over the years. This transition might be common across many cultures but few would have been as drastic as ours has been.
What does family mean to you? It does not matter how close you are to yours but we need to go that extra mile to give our kids that strong sense of family.
Families come in varied shapes and sizes. The most weird thing is, other peoples families always seems to be way better than your own, which is mostly not true.
For me a family is this group of people who always had time for each other with wholehearted dedication.
THEN:As the saying goes “It takes a village to bring up a child”.
This was most Indian families for you once. We grew up in a household conisiting of grandparents with a healthy sprinkling of aunts,uncles and cousins thrown in.
There were ready playmates those cousins your first friends. With no dearth of people ready to meddle in your life, you were never left alone. One persons problems were tackled by the whole clan.
Even with the over indulgence and continuous sense of being watched family was what you would return to at the end of the day.
New mothers never had to face the dilemma of how to do and what to do, there were always a hand to help. Every aspect of things had a listening ear. Overly patient grandparents with their own life experiences were a treasure trove of guidance.
Like everything this package came with its drawbacks: over interference, over indulgent kids difficult to discipline and not getting independent, to name a few.
NOW:The change in family dynamics over the years has left the family units some what fragmented.
Today’s Indian society is mostly nuclear families with busy parents and limited communication with the extended family. These families see much less conflict of interests leaving breathing space for each other.
Kids in this generation are more self-sufficient and open to change.
A sense of family and belonging that children learn from sharing their life and space with an extended family. Children growing up in nuclear families do not get exposure to that extra love and warmth.
What is really sad is Children completely missing the life experiences and stories from a whole generation.
HOW FAMILIES ARE BUILT:
Living together makes a family but strong roots need a deep rooted value system. How do we teach our kids the value of families? One of the foundation bricks that make a family strong is tolerance.
There will always be someone in a family who will think and act unconventional.
Everyone’s threshold of tolerance is bound to be different.
What might be a non-issue for one person might mean the world to the other.
Every person’s reaction to a similar situation might differ.
You might be a multitasking genius while some other can barely accomplish one thing at a time.
The basic comes down to each pillar of the family unit not being alike. What matters is love, tolerance and unconditional acceptance with a slight nudge in the right direction.
Children and especially teenagers should have the confidence that families don’t judge, they just help each other become happier and better version of themselves.
KEEPING IN TOUCH:
The bane of recent times is being busy. Everyone is juggling a million things, some doing a better job at it then the others. Being so occupied leaves us very little time and patience to keep in touch with even those who matter.
The simplest solution is make time. Remember those important dates of family members. Not all communication has to be long. Drop in simple messages or short calls.
Loosing touch with family is the main reason for widening gaps overtime. Distances might make the hearts fonder but will definitely leave relations strained.
Let your kids see you make those efforts. Don’t wait for the other to take the first step, go ahead and initiate communication you won’t regret it.
Even in a deeply materialistic world giving someone your time is still precious.
FAMILIES GIVE ROOTS AND WINGS:
I believe my parents gave us siblings both roots and wings. We are not afraid to encounter the new while staying true to our beliefs.
This is what I look forward to passing on to my children. Children need strong roots so they can fly.
A big tree rooted in the ground can withstand any storm while weeds just float.
Have small family traditions, holiday celebrations. Talk to your kids about your own childhood, delve into your own background to give them the understanding that family is there to support them and not arrest their flight.
I’m positive I may never approve of all the life choices that my kids will make but i want them to know that whatever they encounter there is always family to count on.
There are friends and friends like family but there will be no one else like family .They accept you just the way you are.
They might judge you at times, drive you crazy and there are phases in life when you run away from them .
Family inundates you with emotional baggage but it is the anchor that ties down a ship to prevent it from going astray. Even when they might throw you to rough sea at times.
Today life is fraught with too much exposure and trying to overcome distances can be hard. So it becomes a task to make sure the familial bonds are strong enough to stand the tides of time and circumstances. But the first step is to ingrain in our kids the value of these family bonds and all else just follows.
Do you live in an extended family or a nuclear family?What steps do you take to make your kids understand the significance of family?