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Modern Families: Changing the rules & roles

Posted October 2nd, 2018, 10:17 AM IST

Modern Families: Changing the rules & roles

At a time when Indian society is gradually dismantling archaic rules and gender stereotypes, and women are seen entering hitherto forbidden arenas and sanctuaries, far away in the UK, there’s a woman breaking stereotypes of a different kind. Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of the current Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, has not only broken away from the conventional image of a stepmother but has also set social media afire with images of her sons and stepdaughter Tyrian White bonding as family.

Tyrian’s birth in 1992, three years before Imran’s marriage to Jemima, was the result of an affair between him and heiress Sita White. Even though Jemima divorced Imran in 2004, she has been a constant in Tyrian’s life following Sita’s untimely demise and regards her as her daughter. Tyrian lives with Jemima and her two sons, Sulaiman and Kasim, in the UK. In one of the many photos shared by Jemima on social media, one can see the three youngsters dressed in colourful ponchos. Jemima wrote, “Mis Queridos my dear ones (sic).” Evidently, Jemima’s divorce from Imran didn’t affect her relationship with his kids, quite unlike our Indian celebrities.

Arjun and Anshula Kapoor never shared any kind of bond with their father Boney Kapoor’s second wife Sridevi and their half-siblings Janhvi and Khushi. It was only in February 2018, after Sridevi’s sudden demise, that Arjun and Anshula stepped up to play big brother and sister to their half-siblings.

Similarly, Prateik Babbar, the son of the late actress Smita Patil and actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, has had a difficult time growing up. In one of his interviews, he had said, “Dad was never around while I was growing up. He was always busy with his other family.”

For Prateik too, it was only in recent years that he started connecting with his father and his half-siblings Aarya and Juhi Babbar. Down south, Jr. NTR, the son of N. Harikrishna and his ‘second wife’ Shalini, was also not accepted initially in their social circle. Things only changed once Jr. NTR became a star.

“The entire concept of relationships and divorce are seen from different perspectives in India and abroad. Due culture differences, the concept of multiple marriages and divorce are common abroad. To them living or hanging out together with stepchildren or step-siblings is as simple as the way they would do with their own children and siblings,” says Harpreet Kaur Kandhari, a relationship expert. According to Kandhari, even 10-15 years ago, divorce was considered a social taboo and step-parents were not seen bonding with their stepchildren. Now however, Indian culture is slowly changing and accepting these relationships. “Divorce rates are increasing in India, and are likely to continue to increase in the years to come. As more people have children from different relationships, Indian society will also begin to have a wider definition of what a family is. As long as a family has an atmosphere of love, trust and acceptance, even unconventional family structures can be healthy and stable,” says Dr Shyam Bhat, a psychiatrist.

Kandhari reiterates the observation, “It is now that Indian celebrities are opening up to embrace divorce and let their kids enjoy both their families, like Saif Ali Khan’s son Taimur who has two lovely step-siblings in Sara and Ibrahim Khan. Even Aamir Khan’s children Junaid and Ira share a great bond with brother Azad, and there are no negative vibes in thefamily as well.”