The family has been the social institution that plays a pivotal role in guiding an individual into maturity, self-sufficiency and integrity. The microcosmic unit of the bigger society is first acquainted with the child in their family. The child thus imbibes its practices and knowledge. The Indian society is built on the principle of collectivism, unlike the West which emphasizes individualistic values. The social unit of the family in India, therefore, aims to incorporate the values of loyalty, reciprocity and unity within the members.
With the unhindered influence of modernism, the norms and ways of a family in the Indian system have seen drastic changes which have led to varying degrees of consequences. Thus, it is essential to incorporate into the child the right ways of the world. They can mould themselves with confidence according to the evolving needs of the time, respect the traditional values of reciprocity and empathy, and yet not be held back by orthodox principles that hinder humanity.
In a competitive world where technological developments and status ambitions are of pivotal importance, the traditional base of loyalty has been fading unwittingly amongst the members of a family. Children are thrown into the bustling world of grooming and academics at an early stage to meet the requirements of a capitalist country. They often end up isolating themselves from their parents once they grow up. The bond that ties the members is not only of biological heredity, but it also requires to have faith in each other.
The genuine feelings of loyalty to one’s family cannot bloom unless children are given the space to acquire an understanding of how nothing is for granted. It is imperative to have a healthy home environment where children are taught, one step at a time, according to their individual needs. They will gradually learn how to value the people who will always have their back when the hour comes.
The Sanskrit philosophy of Vasudhaiva kutumbakam, meaning ‘the world is one family’, is an imperative aspect of Indian family values that help a child acquire what it means to regard different people with equality and consideration. A human being should be respected regardless of gender, caste, sexuality, and religion. In a country where the political situation is turbulent and social evils are still brazenly out in the open, a person has to imbibe ways of confronting the world from the age of schooling. Teaching children to firmly consider equity towards everyone they come across so that the seeds of backdated habits and narrow-mindedness do not grow stronger in their roots.
Respecting one’s elders has been a stringent value in Indian families since ancient times. A family is a social institution that passes its wisdom and traditions from one generation to another. The older family members are regarded as knowledgeable and experienced. Their teachings help the child to keep their grasp on India’s rich heritage and appreciate its culture and historical significance. Most of the time, however, the redundant practices and thought structures are not left behind during such lessons. Adults should ensure that the child does not incorporate chauvinistic thinking and fanatical actions that will hinder their personal development as a decent human being and create considerable problems for society.
Charity and sacrifice
Sacrifice has been regarded as a source of contentment for everyone in terms of the joy of giving that was so revered in ancient India. The children are taught that wealth is temporary, and one day its custodian will be passed onto someone else. However, one can only help others when one has attained sufficient standing to do so. Senseless giving in a competitive economy where most struggle to survive is not something one would want to indulge on. Yet, the child should learn not to clutch at wealth and property with greed and acknowledge the support that comes their way.
On a different aspect, the practice of ‘dana’ or charity does not only apply to the greater collective good of the society but also the compromises that one does for the family. The traditional hierarchy of the Indian family being a patriarchal society, the responsibility of giving up is thrust upon women. Instead of being reduced to orthodox gender roles, a child must be taught to mould their identity as a good person who not only respects others but also esteems themselves.
In India’s collectivistic society where inter-dependence is the traditional norm, a child needs to learn to empathise with diverse kinds of people, from various strata of society. The country’s economy and social standing is structured upon the requirement of interdependence to survive. Empathy begins with simplicity when the child is taught to help their siblings and friends. It is then nurtured into a holistic perception where the child understands how to give others the deserved opportunity to speak and respect their position and situation with sensibility.
Dealing with hate or spite with maturity
Non-violence and respectful behaviour are essential values taught in any Indian family. It is also important to make sure that a child grows up to be a voice instead of just an echo. The child should learn to listen to what others say, regard its importance and have the confidence to build their own opinion through learning and unlearning. Standing up for what one deems right does not imply hot-headed action and crude words. Anger is significant for society as well as the individual to progress, but misdirecting it and letting it go out of its leash will only culminate to grave consequences.
Consulting the other members of a family for advice and making decisions is an important practice. However, self-evaluation is also a necessary part of teaching that trains the child to develop their personality and intellectual faculties. The process of ‘atma vichar’ helps one regard their decisions throughout life. It leads the child into knowing themselves as they grow up to be a mature adult.
The system of the traditional Indian joint family was based on the patriarchal hierarchy. Many of the values that were once highly esteemed have come to be exposed as oppressive. The traditional Indian family have always thrived on the principle of interdependence, but nuclear values have grown rapidly into importance as the country adapted itself into modernity, in social as well as economic aspects. It is imperative, therefore, that the children learn the appropriate values and norms from their family.