Monday, June 25, 2007

Generation Gap

When we are small, our parents take all our decisions for us. We trust them absolutely. The fact that their decisions might not be the optimal ones never even crosses our minds. As we grow up, we start thinking for ourselves, comparing our lives with that of our friends, seeing the world and learning from it. And, there comes a point when we decide that we would rather take our own decisions. There comes a point in the lives of our parents too, when they feel that their kids are grown up enough to look after themselves without parental intervention. The whole problem arises because the former occurs much earlier than the latter.

By the time we enter our early twenties, we want to be the masters of our life, take our own decisions, make our own mistakes and learn from them. But, our parents still feel we are young, inexperienced and not enough worldly-wise to survive without their supervision. Then begins the Struggle for Power. We feel they are fuddy-duddies, they feel we are foolhardy. We feel they are domineering, and that they don’t want to let go, they feel we are disrespecting their wishes, disregarding their opinions. We feel they are old, out of touch with the present world, and, that our peers and seniors are better advisors. They feel they have seen more of the world than we have, and, that we are young, gullible, and might end up making those very same errors that they have made in their youth. They try to warn us against them. We resent their mother-hen attitude, and, ask them not to cluck around us. We finally think, condescendingly, that after all they are our parents and, mentally tell ourselves, that once we are parents we will not do such a thing, that we would give all the freedom to our kids. But we do not realize that Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs ever. To bring a kid into the world is only the first step, but, to bring them up, to see that they grow up into sensitive, responsible individuals, to ensure that they learn enough skills to have a comfortable living – all of this is a huge responsibility. No wonder the parents sometimes end up being over-protective, to the point that it becomes over-bearing. It is very tough to know when to let go. You can’t back off too soon, when your kid is still immature and not ready for the world. At the same time, you can’t hold on too long, for it would suffocate the already grown kid. Guess, once we become parents, we might do the same. We would justify over actions, saying, the ends define the means, the intention – that is, the welfare of our kids - is pure, etc. But, our kids end up feeling shackled, misunderstood and frustrated, the way we feel now.

And, for this very same reason, I greatly respect Rash’s father. Rash has now finished MSc and is getting ready to leave for the US for her PhD. It is that stage where parents feel most insecure – about their child’s future in an unknown place and also about their own standing in their child’s life from now on. In this situation, her dad spoke to her one day and told her, that she might be exposed to so many things in the US – stuff that she’s never tried before. He told her, that if she ever wanted to indulge in them, she should, from now on, just consult her own conscience. Peer pressure shouldn’t instigate her actions and fear of parents shouldn’t deter her either. She is the master of her will from now on, and, she is the only person she is answerable to. Only her judgment should guide her actions. It is such a tough thing to say, to be able to know when to say it is tougher. And, I immediately felt an immense respect for the man who had managed to do it.

I am documenting all my thoughts now, when I am in the position of a child, so, that once I reach the position of a parent, I would still be reminded of what one feels when one is at the receiving end. I might, some day, read this and understand why I am having trouble understanding my kids instead of just mouthing the cliché, “Generation gap”.


wander1ust said...

Very well-written :)

Sid said...

The issues arise when you look at your parents/children in view of the relationship that you share with them. Look at them as individuals, and it's all just fine.