In this Article
- Distinguish Between The Negotiable and The Non-Negotiable
- Communicate your concerns
- Rope in The Experts
- Take Help from Your Spouse
- Keep Channels of Communication Open with Your Kids
- Create Your Family Time
- Be a Role Model for Your Children
- Be Appreciative of The Good in Other Members of The Joint Family
- Manage Your Emotional Baggage
- Seek Professional Help
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Raising kids in a joint family is no mean feat. Parents, especially a mother, can feel stifled in the environment where her every belief is challenged, and her action dissected. In such a scenario, how can you assert your parenting beliefs. Learn here.
Raising kids in a joint family can prove to be a double-edged sword. The extended family can at times be a source of joy and relief, but it can also become a hotbed of conflict, acrimony and heartburn.
It is, therefore, imperative that young parents work on their assertion and communication skills and make the right moves to ensure that all parties involved, especially the kids, emerge unscathed from the experience.
Some Tips on Asserting your Parenting Beliefs in a Joint Family
Distinguish Between The Negotiable and The Non-Negotiable
As in any relationship, it is important to learn to let go of issues that may not matter much in the long run. The questions to be always asked when there is a deadlock are:
- If I give up on this today, will it make a difference to my child 10 years down the line?
- What is reacting in me – well-founded convictions or my desire to be right? This should help parents focus on the non-negotiable, which may not be so huge a burden, once the negotiable is taken care of.
Communicate your concerns
Communicating your concerns gently, but firmly may make extended family, especially in-laws, more amenable to change. When you use ‘I’ sentences such as: “I know you feel the child will sleep better with the bottle, but I am concerned about the damage the sugar in the milk will do to her teeth overnight” would be more effective than a brusque “That’s my decision”.
Rope in The Experts
Take the help from an expert, who could give a scientific justification for your decision (for example, a dentist, pediatrician or teacher). The internet could be your ally here, with some images or articles that could validate your viewpoint on the issue at hand. Sharing credible information with a “we both want what’s best for the child” attitude would create a positive bond between parents and extended family and serve as a good preventive approach to potential problem areas.
Take Help from Your Spouse
Your in-laws would feel less threatened and more relaxed if your spouse communicates with them on the troubling issues.
Keep Channels of Communication Open with Your Kids
Communicating openly and frankly with your kids will help them understand your concerns and limitations. Your child would sense the tension in you when you are required to give into something you do not believe in. Do take the time to explain privately to your children why you differ from your in-laws, without demeaning them.
Create Your Family Time
Every day, make it a point to create a little “family” time, where you, your spouse and children get together, bond and share ideas, concerns and affection.
Be a Role Model for Your Children
Your confidence and sense of self-worth will invariably trickle down to your children so make sure your behavior is always mature, intelligent and thoughtful. You can thus ensure that irrespective of other negative influences; your influence will be the most honored.
Be Appreciative of The Good in Other Members of The Joint Family
Children need to cherish their situation rather than look down on it. Their perception of their environment needs to be positive for them to thrive. Hence, constantly downgrading their cousins or grandparents would be unhealthy as it would suppress their natural urge to love their extended family.
Manage Your Emotional Baggage
When your resentments, anger and irritation get the better of you, your child could be at the receiving end of your misdirected aggression. You need to offload your emotional baggage with both care and tact, through effective communication. Find a healthy outlet for your anger. Never bring it down on your child.
Seek Professional Help
A professional could help you control your emotions. Family counselors can prevent much abuse and alleviate some misery by intervening when the situation becomes unmanageable.
Finally, as a small family unit within an extended family, do work on becoming as independent as possible, financially, materially and as caretakers of your kids. The lesser the dependence on extended family, even if you are living together, the lesser the likelihood of conflict. Also, if push does come to shove, and in addition you realize that your child is likely to suffer in the long term from autocratic decisions taken by the extended family, moving out to live independently may be the best option.
Ultimately, there are bound to be conflicts but life could still be pleasant if you learn to prevent and diffuse conflicts with joint family.