I’ve always loved dissecting relationships. There is a strong sense of psychology that runs through every relationship. More so, in power packed relationships. You know which one I am talking about, don’t you? Of course, the deadly mother-in-law – daughter-in-law combo. This relationship is a seat of constant power struggle. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The power to rule over the kids/grand kids.
The power to rule over the husband/son.
The power to rule over the help/cook.
The power to rule over the kitchen.
The power to rule over each other.
Probably, this struggle for power is present in every relationship a wee bit. We all like to boss over others. We may or may not accept this to our own selves but more often than not, we are thrilled to be the big-daddy in relationships. Any. While, in the case of MIL-DIL scenario, this is almost always apparent on the outside. All the molly-coddling and ‘You are as good as my daughter/mother!’ theories are pure humbug. Cynical, yes. Untrue, no.
Now, the bigger question is this. Why is this relationship alone so complex? Why is there a power struggle for every small thing? I am not trying to squarely blame the older generation here, but I think, a major part of the problem can be tackled if the parents let go. Letting go not of the love for their sons/daughters; but of the control they exercise over their children. Somehow, the Indian system is typecast in a such as way that control equals love. Which is, according to me, the reverse. More control equals less love. Lesser control equals more trust and lots of love.
The biggest parenting lesson we should learn is to trust our own offspring. Trusting our children is akin to trusting our own parenting skills. When we begin trusting them, we will stop exercising control over their decisions. Instead, we will begin loving them unconditionally.
In a practical scenario, this letting go is not possible if the parents choose to stay under the same roof as their kids. It is simply impossible to see your child do something that you don’t like and keep mum about it. Control steps in undoubtedly. It takes a lot of maturity to realise that something that I don’t like doesn’t become an illegal thing automatically. Different people; different views. And yes.. a child is a different person from the parent. So, the sane thing to do for any parent is to let the child learn his ropes on his own, once he is mature enough to handle the repercussions.
Now, the question is, where will the parents go if the children are to stay independently? Live alone until we can do things on our own and then choose an old-age home. My thoughts here may sound blasphemous to many, but I will stand by it. If day-care centers have become acceptable to house infants when at work, I see no reason why an old-age home is such a cruel thing. Times have definitely changed from where parents owned nothing at all to survive on their own. Now, we earn enough and definitely have knowledge about saving enough.
We ape the west for every silly reason. Why not, for things like these? Because we love our power much to let go off it. Fifty five plus homes are pretty popular in the US. I know a lot of such like apartments sold here in India too with all the amenities to cater to old people. How nice it would be to interact with like-minded people having no generation gap, instead of haggling with the grand kids and the daughter in law in a constant power struggle? But.. Such old age apartments are for people abandoned by their children, aren’t they? My son will never abandon me. Ever. But can anyone be abandoned by anyone else in this world? All of us enter alone. All of us leave alone. Where is the question of abandonment?
Yes, I love my philosophy but there is also a lot of truth in it. The fact that parents become dependent on the children makes it possible for the children and their spouses to take advantage of the situation. Again, dependence is not love. For some reason, we tend to confuse a lot of other emotions with love!
When we begin our parenting journey, we all tend to think our love is unconditional. However, as we grow old, our love for our children slowly becomes very conditional. I will help you run the house and take care of your kids; in turn, you provide me a space to live till I die; the fact that none of us are happy doesn’t really matter. This is what I see with today’s parent-child relationship. More of a barter, than love.
I think the bottom line is this. Familiarity breeds contempt. Only Contempt.
So, you tell me, what are your thoughts? Am I talking something totally insane and cruel?