Sunset boulevard: The pain of being a parent
The daughter-in-law believes in leaving everything to the domestic help, be it cooking or cleaning and living a superficial life to impress her social circles.punjab Updated: Apr 08, 2018 13:03 IST
Our generation has multiple predicaments. We had certain value systems which governed our lifestyles and relationships with our parents, but the same is not true of our children. We listened to our parents and dared not talk back and meticulously followed the values taught to us, but when it comes to our children we find they question our wisdom at every step and do not want to listen to us, calling us as outdated.
Besides lifestyle changes there is another serious predicament when it comes to balancing life between wife and mother. I know someone, let’s call him ‘X’, whose orthodox mother is very critical of her daughter-in-law. This is because of the age gap between the two and difference in upbringing.
The daughter-in-law believes in leaving everything to the domestic help, be it cooking or cleaning and living a superficial life to impress her social circles. X’s mother calls it total waste of resources because there is no check on the help or pilferage. The daughter-in-law does not want to compromise, thinking that older generation does not know how to enjoy life. We pity X, as he is coaxed continuously by his mother to control his wife and check her lavish spending. X is helpless as he cannot curtail his wife’s habits without ruining his marriage nor can he ignore his mother. The poor man is sandwiched between the two. After decades of bickering he is a mental wreck, believing that he’s neither a good son nor a good husband. There are many others like X, I know, who suffer silently.
Broken marriages, lifestyle diseases, drug addiction and many such issues result in tremendous suffering for parents.
This is not the only problem. The younger generation keeps experimenting with all sorts of things in its quest to be ‘cool’. Easy availability of drugs turns them into addicts. A retired senior police officer’s adolescent son started taking drugs which soon consumed him after every sort of treatment failed. The old parents were left to grieve for a lifetime. My nephew, in his mid-thirties, father of two infant daughters, took to heavy drinking and died due to liver failure. My widowed aunt living in a village took a huge loan to send her son to the US to earn money and he too took to drinking and died because of liver failure. She had to then spend huge sums of money to get his body back to India.
The young daughter of another family very much into the ‘pizza coke culture’ without any physical activity became obese. Shockingly, she was diagnosed with diabetes in her twenties but did not take the prescribed medication or correct her lifestyle. Soon, her marriage fell apart and as if that was not enough for her parents, she suffered a heart attack in her 30s. For such a young person, it will take a lot of struggle to get her life back on track.
Broken marriages, lifestyle diseases, drug addiction and many such issues result in tremendous suffering for parents. Thus, our generation of parents who cannot detach or become indifferent to their children will keep suffering for no fault of ours. Unknowingly, the new generation is inflicting on us infinite stress - psychologically, monetarily, emotionally and physically. It is difficult to say who is at fault but our generation certainly is going through intense pain.
( The author is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor)