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Rules are not made by elders but made by everyone depending on their needs. Some of these rules make living together easy and comfortable.
Recently I had written an article here on Women’s Web about my daughter being my new family member and not a caretaker or a cook.
The responses to my attitude of not becoming dependent on my daughter in law for cooking for the family, cleaning the house or taking up my responsibility has been both positive and negative, depending on whether it is coming from sensible or insensible people. Many people are upset with me for misleading their daughters/daughters-in-law by expressing my devilish thoughts which will throw family culture to hell.
Honestly, I don’t understand… how I can do that? Am I that powerful?
One of the regular feedback and responses I get very often is that I should “allow my son and my daughter in law to live independently. I should give them the freedom to move out and create their own home.”
Here I would say, I do not agree with them. How can ‘I’ allow my daughter-in-law and son to live independently? It is not my choice to make, right? The freedom is always there with them, and I have no power to stop them if they want to create their own nest.
My question to the people who say I should allow them to live separately is, “How do you want me to do that?” I cannot give someone something I don’t own. It is like asking me to eat someone’s food for them.
Rules for living together in a family should be for everyone’s happiness – it shouldn’t be ‘a few living off the labour and pain of others’.
Though we live together, ours is not the Bollywood filmy type family where women cook and men eat, parents shower blessings, or younger ones follow the rules of elders. Rules are not made by elders but made by everyone depending on their needs. Some of these rules make living together easy and comfortable. Maybe this doesn’t work out for everyone, but it goes a long way in keeping us together.
If anyone wants to or needs to sleep till late afternoon, no one is going to tell them it is good to wake up early in the morning. Not always, people, not always. Sometimes, it is not good to wake up early in the morning. Everyone has the right to develop their own pattern of sleep. This is the era of WFH and timing has gone for a toss. There are times when people just need that break or rest. We have to understand that.
If one of us feels like cooking for ourselves and eating alone, no one is going to tell them that it is selfish to cook for ourselves and eat alone. Sometimes we order food and eat as a group, but there are times when we just order for ourselves. It is OK, though many think it is not the right way to do it.
If you see a mess, clean it up or leave it alone. Never put the blame on someone and ask them to clean up their mess, unless it is repeated behavior which is bothering others.
If the breakfast, lunch or dinner is not ‘ready on time’, no one is to blame in our home. Definitely not me or my daughter-in-law. We have made it very clear that we are not going to be the family cooks. We do cook often, but only when we want to cook and not when others want to eat.
Everyone gets their own chairs. Unless there is a disability involved or guests at home, we stick to the chairs we are sitting on. We are in fact very possessive of our spot except for my son Rayyan, who is usually very adaptive.
We wash, dry and stack our own clothes if we are fit enough to do it.
We fight our own fights. Most of the fights involve two people and not three. And thankfully there has never been a fight for the TV channel, dressing styles, food habits etc.
There were many such ‘ideal family rules’ that I have broken before my son got married. My open discussion with many young couples and also my son, guided me not to get indoctrinated by values that steal smiles.
For many people, this may look like an unorganized and chaotic home, but honestly, it allows all of us to live cordially under a roof. We humans are social animals and we enjoy the company of other humans. The problems start only when the other humans start to consider themselves superior and start telling everyone around what is right and what is wrong. After a certain age, everyone can decide for themselves.
Living in a joint family is not bad if people have their own spaces, because as much as we love company, we love our own space as well. In my home we almost live like neighbors, busy with our own lives. We are not even as nosey in each other’s lives as some of our friends and distant relatives are. Financially, we all are independent to take care of our needs. When it comes to taking care of people, at present we all are capable of taking care of ourselves, with little needs which are often met easily with co-operation.
My daughter has special needs, so we all share our part of helping her out when needed.
Living together is not bad if we know the boundaries and limitations of our relationships. In fact it works well in many ways. I am very happy to have my daughter-in-law and son living with me. I enjoy the little time we share as a family eating together, going out for entertainment, travelling or chatting away on topics ranging from movies, people, psychology, news etc.
My choices are limited, since I am a parent of a special child. But I have also realized that a person can just walk away from the responsibility of taking care of the special child as well, like my husband has done very conveniently. So, I realize that I too have a choice and I have made my choice wisely.
I always prefer to live with my children, but at the same time I like to have my own space, time and independence. I am also aware of my limits, boundaries and duties. I cannot allow my daughter-in-law and son to move out of home, not just because I love having them live with me, but also because it is not my decision, and because this is their home. They are not my guests or tenants.
Image source: a still from the film Listen, Amaya!
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I am Farida Rizwan, 55, Counselor and Psychotherapist working as Senior Curriculum Developer with Chimple Learning. I am ardent blogger @www.chaptersfrommylife.com and share my life experiences of surviving breast cancer 3rd stage for read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, indivisual posts do not necessarily represent the platofrom's views and opinions at all times.
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I am a highly educated homemaker, and am considered worthless by my inlaws, as they had expected a well earning daughter in law. Shouldn't it be my choice?
I am a highly educated homemaker, and am considered worthless by my inlaws, as they had expected a well earning daughter in law. Shouldn’t it be my choice?
Matrimonial columns show a great demand for highly educated, homely brides. But this is a farce as education comes with a price. Especially if you live in a joint family, with the in laws deciding things for the family.
No one wants just an educated girl – it should be accompanied by a hefty dowry and a fixed deposit in form of a earning girl. The boy gets dividends from all sides. For him the cherry on the cake is a trophy, which can adorn the house and the work place. But it doesn’t work if the trophy is only adorning the house.
I know that by giving my daughters in law the freedom to choose, while we all be there for each other in times of need - I also make myself free and respectful.
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