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Nuclear Family Effect on Child Development

Nuclear Family Effect on Child Development

We have seen over last 40-50 years a very large scale change in the family system in developing world and may be since a bit longer in the developed world. The causative factors are mostly related to economic or job related migration away from parental home and /or unhealthy expectation from the in-laws and vice versa.

Either way the parents are left holding the ball for running all affairs of the household including bringing up the children. The problem of neglect, lack of time, pressure of job and looking after the child/children grow out of proportion if both/parents are working. Overall the parents feel inadequate and the children either get over supervised/hyper controlled or get left to their own devices (*pun intended!).

Both ways the family runs the risk of not realising its full human potential. Lack of stabilising effect of grand parents and other close family members is definitely detrimental to balanced growth, a happy childhood and peaceful and fulfilling adulthood. The list of side effects is long, some of the points are explained below :-

1. Lack of Security – The support system in terms of finances, time, emotional back up and social interaction etc gets much disturbed or totally lacking. It does have a negetive effect and results in unhealthy pressure, both on parents and children alike.

2. Void of Mature Guidance. The absence of elders and grand parents from the home makes growing up of a child less than perfect. Presence of affectionate, loving elders who can give crucial emotional support in times of crises and provide wise guidance for character building is very important. Its absence can have adverse and deep-seated effect on the behaviour, attitude and temperament of the children which ultimately limits their growth. It may also be a cause of other connected problems like development of various complexes.

3. Digital Addition. The working parents have to perforce engage their children when they themselves cannot be present to interact with them physically. The most common time out is to get them to watch cartoons or play video games. Shortage of time while raising toddlers has come to such a stage that kids of the age 1 to 4 years refuse to eat anything unless some or the other screen is active in front of their eyes. Digital addiction has a number of other ill effects like short attention span, bad memory and poor eyesight. Aversion to reading books is also a byproduct.

4. Personality Defects. Not all children are same and not all parents have equal time constraints. Moreover in many cases mothers are housewives or working from home and hence available to the children. Yet theoretically due to loose control, conflicted relations, disappointments and unfulfilled emotional & material needs the children may develop a varying degree of poor personality traits as under :-

a)  Inferiority Complex.
b) Stubborn and garrulous nature.
c)  Distrust in others.
d)  Lack of ambition/drive.
e)  Substance abuse.
f) Antisocial, possible bordering criminal, behaviour.

On the plus side children growing out of nuclear families can be of strong and independent mindset and driven to excel in life.

The nuclear families are not going back to joint family system. Accordingly the parents have to manage the situation as best as they can afford. The following will definitely help in raising strong, well adjusted and positively inclined kids:-

a) Hiring support staff for the house work and baby sitting.
b) Finding good play schools/day care near the home or workplace.
c) Spending quality time together.
d) Not allowing excessive screen time or gifts out of a feeling of guilt. Make efforts to be with them especially once they return from school.
e) Sharing feelings and not asking questions only as to how their day went or what they did.
f) Controlling your own temper and loose talk.
g) Making it to the PTMs without fail, engage with teachers of your children – after all they supervise your child for better part of the day!.
h) Go out of the way to know their friends to be sure they are not getting any undesirable influence.
j) Have frequent visits to family/friends and be socially active.

There is hope afterall for children of nuclear families but adequate attention and dedicated efforts on the part of parents is needed.

You can succeed if you believe you can!

About the Author : Major General Balraj Mehta

Maj Gen Balraj Mehta believes there are no problems – only opportunities!
He is a veteran of Indian Army with 35 years of dealing with men – ranging from young recruits to grizzly old soldiers. Father of two handsome boys and a loving husband and married for over three decades. He has extensive knowledge of human nature, relationship and camaraderie . He has been conditioned by formal training and observation to deliver tangible, targeted and top line solutions to all kinds of parenting and career opportunities.