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With more young adults wanting independence all too soon, nuclear families in India are getting even more nuclear.
The family structures of a society reflects its moorings. In India, the joint family system slowly gave way to a nuclear one due to industrialisation and urbanisation. The young ones of the family moved out when they got married or got a job in another city or when there was a logistical issue of space. However, such a move was generally not a result of a desire for mental space and it was more for the purpose of convenience and less for any incompatibility. People had patience and tolerance to share their existence with the others.
However, the new nuclear families are seeing a different sort of change and that change sees young kids of the families moving out to set up their own pads even before they get married, in fact much earlier than when they decide to tie the knot and settle down. Marriage no longer is the dividing line or a landmark, for that matter.
Marriage is no longer a natural progression of growing up and getting financially independent. Kids as young as eighteen are moving out even when the parents are in the same city and sometimes in the neighbourhood or in the same building just because they like to breathe, think, eat, love and pray alone and if at all they need company, they have their live-in partners, friend or pets.
Social media takes care of all emotional needs and other support for young people. Internet friends are available round the clock and when parents are tired and sleeping, the friends send emoticons of all types to sooth their emotional distress . After all, the sun never sets on the Internet world.
Earlier, parents used to be academic, career and marriage counselors, but now everything is available in a professional manner, with qualified people giving so-called unbiased and rational counsel. The role of parents as providers of economic , logistical and mental support is being taken over by friends, mentors and professional counselors. Young people do not like to be questioned and hate to be answerable. They don’t want to be ogled by two pair of eyes when they enter home late.
It is not necessary that this happens if the parents are conservative in their way of life. On the contrary, the more moneyed and upwardly mobile and socially cool the family is, the more are the chances that kids want to move out. The point to be noted is that it is not the lack of physical space that leads to this — in fact the bigger the house, the bigger the gap. It is a question of bandwidth, patience and tolerance.
The joint family system broke up because joint family businesses stopped and then there was moving out. But the new challenge is this. Of late, teenagers and young bachelors are planning to move out when they are young and there is the rise of the empty nest all too soon. Nuclear families are becoming more and more individualistic.
With young adults, familiarity breeds contempt and absence makes the heart grow fonder. Here are some familiar reactions from them:
Why meet when we can Skype and face time?
Our body clocks don’t match.
I am not alone, I have my phone.
I don’t like hierarchy – I will choose anarchy.
The declining incidence of families sitting together and eating or having complete downtime together, signals the new order of things. Everyone is busy with their own work. Generally, the joint family system broke up because joint family businesses stopped and then there was moving out. But the new challenge is this. Of late, teenagers and young bachelors are planning to move out when they are young and there is the rise of the empty nest all too soon. Nuclear families are becoming more and more individualistic. There is a strange desire to have ‘space’ from one another and the bigger the house, the more is the desire for a separate space. The whole idea about taking advice is getting professionalized. Virtual meeting is better than the physical. Closeness breeds friction. Are we moving towards a very rationalistic, practical society?
Image via Shutterstock.