Family is basic economic and social unit

Family is the smallest unit of society. A family is to be managed almost the same way as affairs of bigger units like the nation, states and municipalities are conducted. A family manager has to see that household economy is on strong footing, children are well groomed and educated, cleanliness and discipline is maintained, relations with neighbors and others are cordial and so on. The family may be joint or nuclear. Both need management.

Management of a joint family

A joint family consists of minimum three generations- an old man and his wife, his sons and daughters in law, grand children. Mostly, such families have also common business and property. This is called HUF or Hindu undivided family. The senior most member is mostly head or Karta. The income is common. The Karta divides business responsibility among his sons and allocates funds for comm0on domestic expenses and also pocket money for individual members.  There may be common kitchen or separate for the nuclear families that are parts of the bigger joint family, residing in same premises. These days, separate kitchens are necessary for getting more gas connections.

As our society is male dominated, the husbands are responsible for managing family affairs. The male members are responsible for providing the necessaries at home. The females undertake the liability for internal management like cleanliness, decoration, child education and discipline. Child education, grooming and dealing with domestic work and domestic servants is wives' responsibility. Some times women are also given responsibility for common business. Although they divide the tasks, mutual consultation is necessary for solving any major issue. The issues like selecting school or college for child, attending and spending on relatives' marriage are settled by mutual consultation.  

Joint family is like a federal or quasi federal system. Issue like marriage, inter family relations, children's higher education and brothers' role in business are decided by the head of joint family in consultation with his sons and sometimes with daughters in law.  But small issues are decided by the nuclear families within the big joint family. Thus the issue of attending and giving gift in wedding of  women's parental side will be in most cases decided by the concerned woman and her husband only. When a function relates to male's family, this is a joint issue.

Even though some autonomy is with sons and daughters' in law, the ultimate control is by the head of Family. The author remembers that once his married cousin (mother's sister's daughter)  had almost decided to accompany us to Kanpur. But just when we were to move, my cousin's father in law intervened and did not allow her to go to Kanpur, saying that his daughters in law should not go anywhere unless there is some occasion or function to attend. If she were living as nuclear family, her husband's consent would suffice.   

One benefit in joint family is that the elders always help in settling quarrel between a husband and wife.  

Nuclear family management

A nuclear family is one consisting of a man, his wife and children. Here the two have to jointly manage all family affairs including food, child care and financial affairs. Usually, the man is responsible for finance raising and external affairs while wife manages the internal affairs like cleanliness, child upbringing and support. Rightly, she is referred to as home minister of a family. She looks after kitchen. She is the chief host to the guests. This is in relation to guests that it is said that a good wife is one who is a miser in kitchen, a lady in drawing room and a harlot in the drawing room.

As regards relation with other families, the husband has a greater role in dealing with his brothers and their families, parents and others; whereas the wife will decide about her parents, brothers and their families. The dealings are in relation to social events like marriage, birthdays. Usually, husband and wife jointly take decision. The expenses on gifts on such occasions have to be financed by the husband. So, his viwes also matter. The decision about schooling of children is also a joint one.

The major problem in a nuclear family relates to care of the infants. Usually, the wife caters to this. There is difficulty when husband and wife both are employed. The wife may take maternity leave. The female relations like mother, sister, sister in law are great help. Though a nuclear family, relation with parents, brothers and their families remains intact. The baby care is best by mother. She needs to avail of maternity leave and some other leave. These days men also get paternity leave as they have also a responsibility for child care. They may invite turn by turn female relatives from husband as well as wife's side for help in baby care.

The nuclear family should even without the need for baby care maintain good relations with the close relatives and periodically visit them and also invite them. Needless to say that the needs are mutual and all families need each other. having better and more cordial relation with neighbors is also helpful.

The family should take adequate safeguards to meet nay financial difficulty. Mediclaim policy and accident insurance are must. Also the long term investment is must for future of children and building house. 

The major issue is that of dispute or quarrel between a husband and his wife. They should sort out their differences amicably. Sometimes, elders like parents or parents in law or even elderly neighbors may intervene and give good advice. However, it is better that the husband and wife both sort out their difference among themselves.

The major issue is sometimes of misconduct like extramarital relation and drunkenness. These even lead to divorce. Both spouses need to act prudently. Generally, husband is the villain as regards drunkenness and also extra marital relation. The pre-marriage extra marital relation should be ignored. The spouses should remain faithful after marriage. When the family dispute aggravates more, family counselors are of great help.

Often, husband and wife have to adjust with each other despite some blemish of the other.  A wife was sick of her husband's drunkenness. She ultimately got promise from her husband that he would drink at home only. An agreement was reached. The wife would control his quantity of drink. Some time back, a unique case of drunken husband was brought to a police station. The wife began using cane to beat her husband whenever he drank. The husband did not retaliate. Some days, he would not drink. But he could not resist more. Then he would again come home drunk and get beaten. One day, the wife complained to police that she could not reform her husband even by beating him with a cane. The husband confessed that he was a drunkard and he had even reduced drink. But the wife would cane him even when he took small quantity only. The police counselled the wife to allow her husband a small drink herself at the residence. After that, all is okay. There is a proverb: If you love me, love my dog. This means that you accept the person whom you love despite his or her shortcomings. Nobody is perfect. Both spouses should adjust with each other. But it is not good to make mountain out of mole hill. Particularly, the women entirely dependant on husband should be careful not to spoil the relation   too much. One woman quarreled with her husband too much and would not let him live in peace. she was too suspicious. The husband was so frustrated that he deserted not only is wife but also his government service. The wife repented but no use. She had to beg from her husband's former colleagues. She virtually became a call girl as she had no alternative.   

We may conclude that by a little tolerance and mutual understanding, family life can be well managed. Good Relation with relatives and neighbors must be maintained.    


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