Monday, 30 October 2017

Decoding Indian Parent-Child Relationship

In a recent movie "Simran", when Kangana's character decides to finally surrender herself to police (after robbing multiple banks), cop asks, " Why run if you were going to surrender?" to which Simran replied earnestly, "Because that neighborhood is full of Indians! All my relatives live there. If my father sees me get arrested, he will kill me!". The US cop found this explanation hilarious but I am sure every Indian kid could understand her point.

Parent-child relationship is one of the strongest bonds we come across in life, but an Indian parent-child bond is a much more complex one. Of course like anything else, there may be exceptions but I am talking about the general philosophy observed by majority. In India, kids are not treated as a separate individual who gets to enjoy all the rights and treatments enjoyed by an adult. Parents get a total monopoly, of course a kid can voice his/her opinion but that hardly counts honestly, because at the end parents wish overrules. Every kid here would have grown up hearing something like "We know what's best for you". And although it may sound unfair (definitely felt that way growing up), I have come to realize that it's an extremely valuable trait which does helps us in more than one way. To begin with, it induces humility and pretty soon you realize that world doesn't revolve around you.

Another major difference I have observed is the concept of "privacy". The involvement of parents in their kids life can seem a bit intrusive to an outsider. For example, Indian parents wouldn't allow their kids to keep the door of their room closed (forget about locking). Similarly there is no topic which is "private" matter, after all in a place where every distant relative to neighbor is so involved in your personal life it should come as no surprise that parents get an upper hand.

No where else would you find that so little changes with time, Indian kids don't "go away" once they reach 18 or somewhere thereabouts. Even if they are living alone a thousand miles away, they are very much connected to their roots. It's extremely common for parents to call once or twice a day and discuss trivial things. It doesn't matter if you are married and have your own kid, you still take time and call them or in most cases find a way to meet as often as possible.

In India no one invites their parents for important occasion, let's say for their wedding or baby shower etc. Here , you are the one making guest appearance in your own function because parents get to organize every major event in your life. And I think by now we are more than comfortable with the idea. Here you would never hear a bride or groom complaining of exhaustion from trying to decide on menu or picking the matching flowers, because in most cases you wouldn't even have a say in picking your dress!

Relationship between a child and parent is not limited to supporting the child till he find his feet in this world and letting go. Here we constantly need each other, at every phase of our life. It's expected that as a parent you have to take every step possible, make every sacrifice needed to give your child a better future and this in turn builds an expectation from child to do everything to keep their parents happy even at the cost of few personal sacrifices. And for generations we have been doing that without a sigh. For example, it's expected of parents to take care of their grandchildren when their own kids pursue their career, it's ridiculous to even imagine a parent refusing it. Or for that matter no where else would you find so many couples breaking up just because parents didn't agree for their marriage.

In India, we don't see parents as our friends, we don't share our secrets with them and we definitely avoid revealing any of our weaknesses in front of them. But that's because we respect them more than anyone else. No one can share the platform reserved for our parents. And even if this lifelong bond experiences it's own share of stress and strain, it never diminishes or loses its strength even more a moment. Even if a guy turns 50, he will dare not raise his voice in front of his dad or a 45-year old  woman tell her mom that she is wrong!

With each passing generation, there are subtle changes but the basic foundation on which this relationship stands is stronger than ever. Maybe we can never truly understand all the aspects of this complex bond, but we know enough to know that we value it with our life, and flaws or no-flaws we wouldn't want it any other way.

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