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Modern families

  • Published at 11:17 am October 25th, 2013

Someone once said to me, “Why do you live at your in-laws? Isn’t it difficult? You should go there on weekends like I do and spend the rest of the days at your parent’s.”

“And the hubby, where does he stay?” I asked. “Wherever I stay of course!” she replied back.

Dhaka today has three kinds of families: joint (with her side of the family), joint (with his side of the family) and nuclear. As more and more women are joining the workforce and starting families at the same time, they are counting on their parents to help them build the life they have imagined for themselves.

I am definitely not suggesting that women should stop working after they have babies or that women who are working should not have babies. But once you have a child, his/her responsibility is yours and your partners.

Grandparents shall be grandparents; they are not supposed to raise your child for you! And if you decide to bring another person into this world, his/her life is in your hands, not anyone else’s. If you ask me what women under these circumstances ought to do, then I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve, nor are there shortcuts on how to raise a child.

Don’t we all wish there were better daycare centres in the country? Yes, but that is not the point of this piece. Of course, it is an entirely other story if a girl lives at her parents’ because they are ill or old and she’s the only one who can look after them.

But living with them so that they can take care of you or your child after you have reached an age of adulthood is definitely not the prescribed way.

Many couples these days are also opting for a place of their own whereby they are free to lead the life that suits them. When both the partners contribute to the family, this idea becomes easier to materialise and is also the best option out of all.

Living with in-laws, abiding by their rules becomes a bit of a hitch for us folks as our daily routines are very different from theirs; we come home later than expected, eat out and sleep in late during weekends.

Not to mention the never-ending mother-in-law-daughter-in-law wars that leave the rest of the family members breathless and void of energy. On the contrary, there are some households in which the in-laws themselves ask their sons and daughters in law to get a place of their own so that civil relationships can be maintained.

I am sure that there is a genuine and logical reason for which men don’t join their wives in their homes after marriage. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s just how I see it. My general observation is that those men who opt to stay at their in-laws after marriage usually do not earn a decent living and is dependent on them for taking care of his wife and kids.

Or maybe he does earn enough, but chooses not to spend it on his family. Such men also usually shy away from responsibilities and want to spend their lives on someone else’s mercy. There are maternally inclined societies elsewhere, but I can only vouch for what I have seen in my lifetime and what I have gathered from my experience is this: A married couple living with the girl’s side of the family can only bring dismay to her life as well as those around her.

Even if her husband is worthy of respect, no one will give him that and will always assume that he is at the beck and call of his father-in-law. Not just that, the girl’s own parents will at one point tell her that she opted to live with them because of her own selfish needs.

As such, relationships with both sides of the family become messy with the girl’s side because of the endless help you seek from them and with the boy’s side because you have ignored their needs completely.

I am definitely not speaking for all couples. Like I said, this is what I have witnessed personally. Some rules are meant to be broken, others revised, whereas there are some more that if followed will continue to bring peace to the world. So, what’s your family structure like?  

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