In Your Parents Shoes

By Jayaram Rajaram

Over the years I have come across many lovely married couples in my friends and family circles. Of late I am observing a disturbing trend and a self-centeredness that has cropped up in many families. This is the same trend that earlier destroyed the stability that extended families offered in the western world. Unfortunately all the signs of intolerance, lack of patience, consumerism and materialism seem to be slowly finding its way into the earlier unshakeable Indian family system.

Recently I have repeatedly heard people saying that they moved out because they cannot stand their in-laws. This is still tolerable (as I do not expect people to live under the same roof), but I see many youngsters who are abroad (or even in the same city at times) not taking care of their parents because their spouse is not cooperating (Or maybe they just don’t care)! Invariably one spouse tends to take care of the other’s parents but one set of parents are ignored and treated pretty badly. . I am not pointing fingers at men or women here but all of us as a society.  The beauty of the Indian family and the arranged marriage system was that it used to be a merging of two families and not two individuals. I am not getting into a debate of whether love marriage or arranged marriage works here, because both have their pros and cons. Now I find that consumerism and selfishness are peaking in India, with kids earning more than their parents ever earned. I stop to wonder why India is making all the mistakes that the west made just a few decades ago?  Does money and independence mean you forget about what your parents did for you? Does marriage mean you do not have an equal responsibility to take care of your parents and your spouse’s parents? Where the hell did your spouse come from? Did he or she drop from heaven?

I am not talking about just differences of opinion between in-laws and daughters-in-law or sons-in-law; these are common in every family. If people coexist there are bound to be differences of opinion and that’s not a major issue. These things crop up and sometimes tears are shed, words are spoken but overall both parties have a core value system and a desire to make the relationship work. My wife and I keep talking about this and correcting each other when the other misbehaves (both of us do misbehave at times- we are just human), but we know in our hearts that our parents have made us who we are today and they need us more and more as they grow older (We HAVE to be there for them no matter what! I pray for sanity, to be able to do the right thing for the rest of our lives.). It’s the small things that WILL make our lives better in future, not the no-compromise attitude of our instant-gratification generation.

Here I am talking about more serious demands (not the small tiffs) by some people who refuse to take care of their spouse’s parents in their old age but expect that their spouse takes care of their parents. Or sometimes couples are so full of themselves and their careers that ageing parents end up in old-age homes! In some cases parents volunteer to go even if the children want them at home, I only talk about cases where the old parents DO NOT WANT TO GO. They yearn to spend quality time with their grandchildren and children, but are pushed to old age homes.

In this post I would like to urge people to understand that money is important but it doesn’t give you a right to be arrogant. Money can get you companions but not love or a supporting family! Your children closely watch your interactions with your in-laws and parents and sooner than later they will do exactly what you did to your parents (their grandparents). You too will be old, you too will lose the confidence that good health and money gives you today. YOU WILL HAVE TO DEPEND ON YOUR KIDS for physical and emotional support. We live in a world of interdependence which is beautiful. This interdependence makes us and our families stronger in a fragile, more and more unpredictable world. Please don’t allow your world and our society to crumble by being selfish. Each one of us needs to wake up and act properly.

GET IN YOUR PARENTS SHOES NOW! YOU’LL BE THERE VERY SOON! YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING!!!!

About the Author

Jayaram Rajaram is the Managing Partner of Bril and the Managing Director & Chief Dreamer of ELSA. Jayaram writes from his heart and from experience. He writes about varied topics ranging from parenting to leadership and entrepreneurship.

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