What inequalities exist within families and what causes those inequalities?
Disintegration of the joint family system has led to smaller or nucleus families. A family today would mean a married couple with their children and at best the parents. To consider the inequalities we would look into both the joint families and the nucleus families.
Various forms of inequality exist in every family despite profound changes in the society. People have different intellectual level, different abilities, talent, the potential to acquire skills, the education background and level, the care and affection, the health conditions, the income level and most importantly the gender discrimination. The difference is visible not only between siblings but also between twins.
In joint families the biggest inequality stems from different income levels where more than one male member contributes towards the household expenses. There is bound to be discrimination meted out to the one whose contribution is less.
The reason for the difference in income levels can be attributed to difference in their education. The difference in education could again have various reasons – it could be the opportunity at the time of education, the intellectual level of the individual concerned.
Gender discrimination is found in all families worldwide even today. A woman, even though may be working shoulder to shoulder is expected to take charge of the family and the children. In certain countries, women are not even provided the same status and education. Education has an impact on the empowerment of the women. Gender discrimination can be demoralizing and result in destabilization and conflicts within the family. Today an increasing number of men are assuming an equal share of parenting responsibilities, which is a step towards bridging the inequality.
A mother too may relate differently to her children. She may be more caring and affectionate towards the weaker child (weaker in terms of health or intelligence) because she feels he or she needs more attention. Secondly, she may also give importance to the male child (in certain socities), as he is supposed to be the future bread earner. This may give rise to resentment from her other children. Highly educated husbands and wives have greater aspirations for both sons and daughters. Even among educated couples, wives have greater aspirations for their daughters. Inequality may exist in the love and care that children have for their parents. This could be attributed to various reasons. It has been seen normally the sons are more attached to the mother and the daughters to the father. This apart, it could also be due to the reciprocal affection that the child has received from the parent.
The difference in levels of talent has no basis except the genes. The family background of the husband and wife can lead to difference in their attitudes. To some extent, it could be the opportunity available to develop the talent at the right time. The quality time that parents spend with the children affects their potential to learn fast. In many cases, one of the parents may not be the biological parent and this leads to turmoil within the child. Attitudes and behaviour are increasingly based on personal choice.
One who contributes to the society or family in anyway (other than financially) is put on a higher pedestal. Families today are less cohesive and members more autonomous. High levels of inequality, affect the levels of domestic demand, savings and investment.