Indian parents.

it is known world over that indian parents have a tendency of being overly involved in the lives of their children. while some would argue that it is good thing because there is a constant support system available all the time, others would say that being too protective often interferes with their freedom. It is hard to say which is right and which is wrong. In the end i suppose everything they do is out of love. Who wouldn’t want to see their children succeed and prosper in front of their very eyes? It brings about a sense of pride and accomplishment for them as well. On the other hand though, it may not come across as the same way.

Right from the start, there is an extreme parental pressure for doing well at school. Trouble here is that parents just want their kids to learn what is taught in school and very little emphasis is laid on other activities like say learning a new language or taking up a sport seriously. While they may act supportive and play along to let you indulge in their whims and fancies, deep down they see all of this as time wasted because it doesn’t feature in as a career option for them. Thats the thing again, everything is about planning your future and preparing for it. Any deviation from that is a waste of time. There is limited freedom provided for a child to develop his/her skills outside the realm of textbooks. And parents will go to any lengths to have their children do well at a school. Even if it means burdening them with additional coaching classes after school that pretty much leaves no time for anything else.

Talks about career and future feature early but they pick up traction right around the time you reach the 10th grade. Parents push for a stable safe career option which involves engineering or being a doctor or something. With a total disregard for the child’s aptitude and interest in those subjects. and the children, who have never had the chance to make a call about their lives till now, just blindly accept what they say, assuming they know whats best for them, which isnt always the case. I have known instances where parents have stopped talking to their children and disowned them for choosing subjects they didn’t approve of beforehand. This in my opinion is being a bully. They withdraw support and unload a constant barrage of taunts and demeaning jabs. There is no self confidence left in the end but parents dont see that. They only see mistakes and provide criticism without taking a second to analyse and provide encouragement.

Stepping into college is another major hurdle. While earlier they dictated the choice of subjects, this time they insist of choosing your college for you too. And again, you run the risk of facing their wrath if you dont make it to their choice of college or if you decide to join a different college instead. Kids at this age enter a rebellious phase and may take a wrong decision based on pure rebellion. Since making a choice for themselves was never really an option; when it does become an option, the choices made post that become reckless. Indulging in drugs, hanging out in the wrong crowds etc are acts of rebellion in most cases and those smart enough soon withdraw from these but there are many who continue.

The next step is marriage. It is much more difficult for an indian woman in this case. Right after entering your early twenties, the topic of marriage suddenly pops up out of nowhere. Parents add enormous pressure and they are backed with relatives who had no role in your life till now but will show up giving unsolicited advice. Not only do they want you to get married early, they want you to get married to someone they approve. Some one they pick. And their checklist and yours for a suitable partner may differ drastically. While parents focus on religion, parental backgrounds, income, looks, caste etc, you would rather focus on compatibility, intelligence and well, looks too i suppose. And you cannot talk them out of it. You cannot even try to explain your side of the story. You cannot get through to them that maybe your point of view should also feature in this process. Again here, i have known cases where parents disowned their children for marrying someone they didn’t approve because of some bullshit reason. In many cases in north india parents have gone ahead and executed their own children and their partners just because they went ahead and did something that was against their wishes. these are of course drastic and lunatic cases but i have known cases where parents have stopped talking to their own children because of this. I honestly fail to understand this. The modern age refuses to even consider someone else’s religion before falling in love with them but apparently that is a deal breaker in itself for parents. Right off the bat, even before meeting someone they out right reject the idea of marrying someone of a different religion. How important is religion really? And what if you’re the kind of a person who is born into a religion but dont give a damn about it? Should it still factor in? Or is it something stupid like rejecting someone based on the colour of their eyes; because in both cases, you’re born with it. Then why? Parents seem to have it all figured out but if you really dissect what they say, you’ll find that there is no sense or meaning behind it. It is true for them because that’s what they were taught before and thats what they are teaching you now. Divorce rates and unhappy relationships are off the charts. And women are pressured into continuing in an unhappy and unfulfilling marriage out of more parental pressure. We live in a very chauvinistic society and a woman is expected to endure everything and not complain. Her own parents turn against her which is the saddest thing i have seen.

It doesn’t end there too. While parents tend to relax and back down after you get married, shortly after that they want you to have children right away. Because it is the right thing to do apparently. Because thats what they were taught so that must be right. And with no logical reasoning they yet again turn up the heat to force their agenda. So now you’re in a loveless marriage which you didn’t want and there’s a kid who will grow up neglected because you didn’t want that either. Days go by, months turn into years; nothing changes.

But all of this happened because you listened to them and gave in. You were the one who decide to sacrifice your own freedom just to make them happy. Their happiness lies in you making choices in your life that they think are correct according to them, based on what they think is right and that may not necessarily be right for you. But they dont care do they? You risk being bombarded constantly with criticism from them and your relatives. All for nothing.

I am sure no parent wants to bully their children but thats pretty much what goes on in most cases. If you chose and unorthodox career, they aren’t happy and want you to switch. If you spend time learning new skills or indulging in something you like to do, they think its a waste of time. if you love someone they dont approve, its wrong and you’re naive. If you dont have kids right away after marriage, you’re making a mistake. It just seems like there is no pleasing them no matter what you do. And if you do follow their lead then you end up somewhere barely recognisable, next to someone you may not love or have anything in common with, living a life you dont want, unhappy and lost.

You can either choose this life or design one for yourself. And if in doing so you piss off some people who dont understand you then why not? Why the hell not? Living in fear gets you no where. Saying yes under parental pressure, gets you no where. Being a coward gets you no where. Believe in yourself and the choices you make. Do what you want to do, not what someone else wants you to do instead. Marry or date someone you want to and if your parents dont approve then it is their problem. They are the ones who will have to deal with it, not you.

you can do anything you set your mind to…

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9 thoughts on “Indian parents.

  1. I can see the complexities of your relationships with your parents.. Its hard..To find that balance, especially how your parents and your culture has been brought up with wanting to be involved in their children’s lives and futures..
    Here we allow our children freedom to make their own mistakes.. We guide, give advice, because we love them.. But I have seen many people who impose strictness, it then causes resentments, and leads to divisions.. And they usually do their own thing and go their own way regardless..
    So I feel your dilemma ..

    Lovely to catch you in my reader this afternoon too Arjun..
    Blessings Sue

  2. I agree with you Arjun. Though it is true to a large extent, but today parents understand that there is learning beyond school and careers beyond engg and medicine. They are now more open minded to give the children that freedom.

  3. It isn’t a unique Indian problem, either. My parents pushed me away when I was still a teenager. So. I have a mother, a father, two brother, endless relatives. We may share DNA, but not much else. I took control of my own life. Some bits went well, others, not so much. But I take responsibility for it all and blame no one. After all, they all had their own demons.

    I honour you for your decision to offer such sage advice to others. Stay well. Travel peacefully and with worthy companions.

  4. Well, the first thing to teach your kids will be to let them comfortable with saying “no”.. in fact we also didn’t learn that art, that’s why we are forced to compromise many passions out of the parental care or love..

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