I came across this post by Indian Homemaker just a short while ago. It’s interesting to read. But, wanting to read the original post to which the current one refers, I clicked back to this. Let me take deep breath. I have so much to say, but I don’t know where to start. In the post on joint families, IHM says that joint families are extremely convenient for the boy’s parents/grandparents. I agree. She also says that when a bride steps into her marital home, every action is scrutinised and she ends up being loaded with plenty of responsibility without the authority needed to carry them out. I agree with that too. I also agree when she says that the boy’s parents tend to take the new daughter-in-law for granted. One such case is that of the anonymous daughter-in-law who commented.
However, I think it is important to nuance the arguments a bit. While it is unfair to expect the bride to take on all that responsibility without the authority required, we must also realise that sometimes, the Indian joint family can be a huge safety net. It starts with mundane things like housework. Two daughters-in-law in the same house means that the work is shared. Sometimes the mother-in-law is also nice enough to help. Granted, most of them behave exactly as IHM points out. But, there are exceptions who deserve to be acknowledged. This safety net extends to caring for the children when the mother goes to work. I know many women who feel that their mother-in-law takes better care of the kids than a paid nanny or servant. The kid is their grandchild after all. Also, in cases where the couple goes through a though time financially, the joint family can step in to provide the much-needed solace and support. I understand that this is declining but in case of a problem, the parents’ (of both spouses) step in to help. I would give anything for a safety net like that.
That said, I fully sympathise with the anonymous daughter-in-law. She is unfortunate enough to have in-laws who neither care nor empathise with her as a human being. Such parents deserve no respect. In this context, I would not spare the husband either. A man who is capable of censoring the blog of his wife, one he is supposed to trust and support, deserves a talking to. The bride/wife/daughter-in-law, is a human being and an individual first. She reserves the right to say anything she pleases on any forum. Nobody, especially not the husband, has any power to stop her in that. If he treated his wife well, and made sure his parents did the same, she would find no reason to complain. I read so many blogs that talk about husband and family, that make one envy the family they have. If you are happy, it shows, on your blog and elsewhere. But, if are being abused, dominated or suppressed, that will show too. In the lack of ease with which a suffering blogger writes, and in the melancholy surrounding the blog. As IHM puts it, an adult requires no permission to go shopping, meet friends and family or watch a movie. She is an adult and an individual. It’s time parents-in-law realise that. On that note, check out this post. It contains advice to the in-laws. Good job!