When Parents Go Wrong

You only can give birth to a child. You can’t expect to own them when they become adults— their bodies, feelings, desires, dreams, consent— nope. I’m sorry if this hurts to know but those things are not yours to control. And that is, of course, in spite of all that you have sacrificed for them or for all the love you have given to them. Don’t put your love on a bargain to emotionally blackmail your adult child. Your ego must not weigh more than your child’s happiness.

This is not how it works. Neither logically nor legally. Perhaps you are worried about the culture or the society around you, what will they say, how will we answer? Well, then, think of the answers. Find the right answers, instead of taking the easy way out- do what everyone else is doing.

Who is this society? Is this one person or two people? Why are you so desperate to be a part of it? Is this society giving you birthday surprises or kissing you good morning every day or lovingly buying you clothes with their first salary? Does the society call you to ask if you’ve had lunch? Does the society come with you to the doctor when you’re sick? Does it pester you until you eat the medicines? Does it push you for the morning walk? How many times does the society give you a hug when you need it the most? How much will the society cry when you are dead?

You have given them all they wanted. The best kind of education, the luxuries, entertainment, the joys, love, warmth and care. You have slept on the wet side of the bed. You have stayed awake all night when they were unwell and did not complain the next day. You are reverential, you are godly. But you are not God.

But was it all on a bargain? That they lead their life as per your wish? They must marry someone from your caste or love.

Do you want yourself to be remembered for being the parent who always lived in a comparative world? You always compared their marks to others. They kept wondering how much would be enough. Even when the times they would do better than the previous times, it would never be enough compared to the other kid in the class. At some point, they stopped caring. You compared their sports performance too.

Then their salary. Why couldn’t you tell them that it’s okay if they earn a little less but do what makes them happy? Why was a car an important dream? Do people without cars die?

Did you ask them to marry because everyone else was? Because they wouldn’t get a good person in your limited search definition. Did you ever tell them that they were being abnormal when they loved someone? So what if it were a person of the same gender! So what you couldn’t picture them with that person? Can you picture a giraffe delivering a baby without the baby falling out from such a height? You can’t. So does that Not happen? It does.

Do you know that the clownfish (the fish in ‘Finding Nemo) can switch sexes throughout their life history! All clownfish are born male, but if the dominant female dies, the dominant male of the group with start eating more, growing in size and becomes the new dominant female. So Nemo’s father is actually Nemo’s mother! Gender and sexuality could be complex to understand. But how could you think they are abnormal in any way? Aren’t they a part of you?

Did they ever compare you to other parents? How did it feel? It pinched you, right?  It is true, you are the best set of parents that your child could ever get. No one can love them more than you. So how about stopping the competition here and treating your child as the special one, just like the first moment when you saw them in the hospital. Weren’t they special? Think about it, how did they become a trophy to flaunt? And can you not undo that?

In our Indian culture, parents are gods. But not literally. They are humans as well. Your child is a human, yes. He or she will make mistakes, yes. They will get hurt, yes. You can’t prevent all the hurt. The kangaroo can’t carry the baby in its pocket all its life.

You are a human, dear parent. That’s why, in spite of all your experience and age, there are still chances that you are going wrong somewhere. Listen to your child. Try to find out what’s bothering them. Notice. Listen. Give it a serious thought.

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4 thoughts on “When Parents Go Wrong

  1. I read your post with interest and my views are as follows.
    I’m sorry if this hurts, but you’re are not a parent yet- so it is not fair to judge them. To actually understand and giving such strong views I strongly believe that you should wear those shoes first.
    Having raised the child since birth, I think parents are in better position than friends/ colleagues/ partners to understand the fact that their child has different feelings, desires, and dreams than their own. Parents try to give the best possible education, environment, emotional care, and above all, a value system that is consistent with the society, to help the child to lead better life. This is called “raising”, which has to be experienced first hand.
    Most of the Parents are aware that all those freedom to think differently, do things differently can create a distance. However they never take those decisions constantly keeping those fears in mind. The thoughts and beliefs that you have which differ from our own/society are a result of parents not taking the easy way out when you were a child.
    The words “blackmailing” and “bargain” are too harsh and should not appear in any parent=-child relationship.
    Yes, we acknowledge the fact that our own kids give us birthday surprises, gifts from their first salary, taking care when we are not well. However, I am surprised to know that while reminding all this you didn’t use the word blackmail as you did for the things parents do for their children.
    Since you are not a parent, you might not know, but no parent in the world does the “raising” for any bargain or part of a grand deal. If you feel that way, I am sorry for you!
    No one wants to prove that they are God. Giving a nice hug, buying something from the first salary, go with parents to the doctors, was it all on a bargain? Was it a strategic move to convince them for something bigger? I am raising this point only to make my point. I know the answer of course that it was not a strategic move/ planning likewise it was not on bargain that I slept on the wet side of the bed because in future I can control you. Unfortunately, the latter part seems to have been lost.
    I don’t think we have any statistics to back that all the parents impose their dreams on their children, at the same time not all the kids will take care of their parents like giving surprises, buying gift, taking care in their old age. So I don’t think we should generalized parents and their relationship with their kids. It is unique and different in each house.
    Sapna Adhvaryu

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    1. Don’t be sorry. It doesn’t hurt. Parents definitely are the primary influencers- not friends or colleagues- and that’s why this post is dedicated to the parents and not to the latter.

      I wrote this article with my experience of being a counsellor for five years and a daughter for twenty six years. One need not be a parent to give a societal outlook to things. One has to keep their emotions aside and inspect an issue rationally. Being a party to the thing, makes it difficult for a person to see it in an unbiased way. These articles are not a personal dig at anyone, but my blog statistics say that over 2000 people have read it and liked it.

      For example in this article, I inspect the things between my mother and me and find out my flaws from it: https://aartinair.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-are-like-your-mom-tryst-of-an-indian-mother-and-her-daughter/

      And in this one about how my parents inspire me to be a feminist: https://aartinair.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/being-a-feminist/

      There are two people on the above comments who are both parents too and agree with this view.I have received personal feedback from parents who thought this was relevant to them. Perhaps it was not relevant to you. Perhaps you are that one perfect parent, although statistically that’s not possible, but still, I want to believe you. But I don’t understand the outrage.

      Beyond everything, I don’t see why Parents should not be ‘judged’ when everyone else around is. Parents are not flawless and they can make mistakes too. If parents can teach us to apologize when we are at fault, why can’t they lead by example too? What’s the big deal in accepting, “Sorry beta, I was wrong. Come, let me love you.” If you say they are flawless entities, then there is no scope to be better. They are actually God. Are they?

      I believe, it is only humble to accept one’s mistakes, at any age, in any role. And I have seen parents humbly accepting their mistakes, making truce with their children and living happily as a family too. Because in the end, parents are the most important set of people for any child. I haven’t said that the parents do it all purposefully, but this post is a mirror to what really happens to the child. And It is important that a child feels understood, heard and loved.

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