Friday, 25 February 2011

Why do parents, we Indian parents, expect so much from our kids?

And by kids, I mean their sons specially.

For their daughters, I think, this applies only till she marries. If the girl agrees to marry the boy of their choice, its fine with them, they don’t want anything else from her. Their thinking is that now she belongs to the other family, and we don’t have any more rights over her. Or over the damaad (son-in-law).

But a son, right from his education, to marriage, to preference/importance of parents above wife and kids, to seva (service) in their old age, everything is expected from him. Which line to follow in career studies, what job to take, where to get posted, which girl to marry, how to conduct life after marriage, how much priority and attention should be given to parents, everything should be as the parents desire. If the beta (son) and his wife want to do something else, life becomes miserable for them. Especially if they are a joint family. Want to go out for a movie, or dinner? Take their permission. Are you two going without us? Daughter-in-law wants to work? Who will do the house work? Who gets the pay of both, all depends on the saas (mother-in-law) and sasur (father-in-law).

Why can’t parents, specially the mothers, let go of the son. If at 18, he is old enough to vote, and decide who is to be a part of the government ruling his country, then he is old enough to make other decisions too. What job to take, what sort of girl to marry, who to marry, and how to conduct life afterwards.

It is this interference and dominance in the life of the son and his family by the parents, that creates problems for him. Because he is pulled both ways. He can overlook and accept his parents’ behaviour, having done it his whole life, but when his wife rebels, whose side to take? His wife is not wrong, wanting to lead an independent life, a life where she makes her own decisions, why are her in-laws interfering?

In the western countries, generally, kids shift out of their homes after the age of 16. They start to earn in part-time jobs, save money for their own further studies. Living alone, they make their own decisions in all spheres of their lives. Of course they keep in touch with their parents and siblings. But they are independent as far as their living goes. Their live-in girl friend, their morals, etc are not the parents’ domain. We Indians can learn from the West. We need’nt go the whole hog, as both aspects have the good and the bad. But we can pick up good points from them. No harm in it.

Today’s modern generation, both the youth and the parents are slowly learning. In the Metros, where both son and daughter-in-law are working, and living is expensive, housing more so, it becomes feasible to live together, to share and halve the expenses. More so, when the babies come. It can well be the best of both worlds. Babies are cared for, as the grandparents are there to oversee the servants/maids taking care of the kids. And the grandparents ENJOY their grandchildren, as they could’nt their own children, spending their time and energy bringing them up.

The only need is first, from the elders, to understand the young of today, give them their freedom, don’t expect them to do the same you did at their age, let them do their thing, you do yours, and see how they will love and respect you. Forget your ego, enjoy your old age, and the respect and affection you generate. Don’t make them your whole life. Let them live their life. This way you have them when you really need them. And they too have you, to guide and care for them.

4 comments:

  1. The logic usually used by the mother-in-law is "I made so much of an effort in bringing up my son, now it is for my son to do his duty to me". She prefers to forget that today the parents of daughters have put in as much (if not more) of an effort and expense in bringing up their daughters.
    For myself I follow the dictum of my mother - she always said, "if you feel that you owe us because we, as parents, have done anything for you, the only way you can repay us is by doing much more for your children".
    So I have done the best for my children and I sincerely hope, now that I am the mother of a son, and mother-in-law to his wife, that I can continue to follow that which my mother believed in and taught me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice post -echoes my feelings and sentiments precisely. My mother-in-law is exactly who you've described. She will not give us our space and wants to visit us every year (travel from India to the U.S where we live) and visit different states meanwhile with her son paying for all her travel and travel insurance. He feels obligated to do this for her as this is her expectation. Her trips have cost us 1000's of dollars and will continue to as she shows no signs of stopping and giving us our space. Why do they have this feeling of entitlement? Bringing up children is not a quid-pro-quo arrangement. When my kid grows up, I want to set her free - I want to see her live her life and travel and live where she and her family see fit. I don't want to impose my emotional baggage on her. I just want to see her being safe, healthy, and happy. Why is there this need to constantly visit? We're on a single salary in California, with a daughter in private school. I'm in the middle of a career transition, and while I do like having her around and want her to visit us occasionally, maybe once every two years, I don't think that visiting every year is a realistic expectation, based on our family's situation. She just doesn't get it and I'm frustrated.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice post -echoes my feelings and sentiments precisely. My mother-in-law is exactly who you've described. She will not give us our space and wants to visit us every year (travel from India to the U.S where we live) and visit different states meanwhile with her son paying for all her travel and travel insurance. He feels obligated to do this for her as this is her expectation. Her trips have cost us 1000's of dollars and will continue to as she shows no signs of stopping and giving us our space. Why do they have this feeling of entitlement? Bringing up children is not a quid-pro-quo arrangement. When my kid grows up, I want to set her free - I want to see her live her life and travel and live where she and her family see fit. I don't want to impose my emotional baggage on her. I just want to see her being safe, healthy, and happy. Why is there this need to constantly visit? We're on a single salary in California, with a daughter in private school. I'm in the middle of a career transition, and while I do like having her around and want her to visit us occasionally, maybe once every two years, I don't think that visiting every year is a realistic expectation, based on our family's situation. She just doesn't get it and I'm frustrated.

    ReplyDelete