Training your child to live in a joint family.......your parenting guide...


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Training your child to live in a joint family

Do you get irritated when doting grandparents indulge your kid without your approval? Here's your parenting guide...

Picture this: Your 10-year-old son has just returned from school and heads straight to the refrigerator to munch on a chocolate bar. While you strictly tell him not to eat it and take it away, your mother-in-law sneaks in and quietly gives it back to him leaving you with no option but to let him have it since you would not want to create a scene. If you are living in a joint family, you are likely to have faced this situation at least once.

A joint family set-up can be a boon in many ways — if you are a working mother, you can leave your child with doting grandparents or share responsibilities with your sister-in-law.

However, this set-up can prove to be a hindrance too, especially when it comes to disciplining of your kid.

A case of too many cooks?
A joint family implies too many authority figures, which can sometimes lead to conflicting messages for your child. For instance, you want your child to be in bed by 10 pm but he/she takes a cue from your brother-in-law who is willing to let his kid stay up till midnight. This, in turn, can lead to mental and health problems. According to clinical psychologist Saloni Sawnani, it is important for the elders to set some ground rules. "Parents, grandparents as well as members of the extended family should set up common parameters and come to a consensus when it comes to the discipline of the kid. For instance, if jumping in the bed is not allowed, the same message should come from parents as well as grandparents," she adds.

When children play games
Due to their instinctive nature, children often come to know when there is a disagreement between elders and as a result, they play one against the other. "When I refused to buy a mobile phone for my daughter, she threw a tantrum and coaxed her grandfather to buy her one. Once my dad agreed, I didn't have a say in the matter," says Gaurav Shah, father of a 13-year-old. While these might seem like small needs, according to experts, these kind of habits are extremely unhealthy in the long run. It affects the psyche of the kid and is likely to hurt him/her in the long run. In most cases, experts suggest that parents should have the final word and the other elders of the family should respect that.

Discuss behind closed doors
Most importantly, even if the grandparents do not agree with the mother on certain issues, they should not discuss these things in front of the children. Very often, grandparents pull up the mother for reprimanding her child. What they should do is back her up so that the child is aware that he/she has done something wrong. "At least in front of the child, you should come across as a team. If your in-laws gift your kid a new toy that you didn't want him to have, tell him, 'Lucky you, you got a toy from your grandparents.' You can sort out the personal differences later in his/her absence," says Sawnani.

Dos and don'ts when raising a kid in a joint family
- Be open in your communication with your in-laws.
- Make sure the elders come to a consensus on what's right or wrong for the kid.
- Ensure that the same message is communicated to the child from all parties.
- In case of a disagreement, don't argue with your in-laws in front of the child. You can discuss your issues in the kid's absence.

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