Parenting is, without a doubt, a huge responsibility and objectively a lot of work. It requires a lot of forgiving, changing, adapting, and selflessness – something I’ve only picked up after watching my parents, and parents in general. However, there are also times when we put our parents on a pedestal, which automatically makes it difficult for us to see them as flawed individuals. No questions asked – they deserve to have a life of their own, and even make mistakes.
With that in mind, this pedestal also acts as a method to enforce fear – which automatically means that children would do things just to keep them happy. This also means that anything that parents say is considered the final word, and questioning them is assumed to be a sign of disrespect. In these cases, respect is considered something that is meant for anyone who’s older than us, no matter how they’re as people. Not that I’m generalizing parents or a parenting style as a whole, but in a lot of these cases this fear also builds a gap, which is more than just generational. As children, or as people, for that matter, we want a space that feels safe – which is free of judgment. But, it’s difficult to create something of the sort, if we respect someone solely because we’re scared of them.
I’m not a perfect child, and I do not expect my parents to be perfect either. But, I do expect a sense of understanding which goes both ways. We all want our parents to be able to talk to us, and realize where we’re coming from. And even if we make mistakes, which we’d do, all we want is a balance – where they point out our flaws, but also help us move on and learn from them. Given the generation gap, there are always going to be disagreements, even fights, it’s unavoidable. But, a difference in opinion isn’t a good enough reason to give up on relationships. We’ve all come across cases where not having the same point of view ends up with parents guilt-tripping their children. If their children take a stand, it’s considered a ‘betrayal’ of sorts, and has some really serious repercussions.
Choosing a life partner, or wanting a relationship of one’s choice is an example. For no logical reason, some parents think that who their child ends up with (or not) is something that requires their validation or to be more specific, ‘permission’. So, without letting their children choose the person that they like and respect, parents end up forcing their choices. And there’s no way to justify this, no matter what. The idea that parents are always correct or ‘they know best’ isn’t the healthiest thing. They might intend to do the best for us, but that cannot always lead to the right decisions. No one knows what the future holds, it’s as simple as that.
So letting children make their choices, being with them if they do not pan out well, or, being happy if they do – that’s what parents NEED to do.
Also, as children we do have certain duties, similarly, the choice of being a parent and raising a child means that there are some basic duties that come with it. And not adopting toxic parenting methods is the bare minimum. Ergo, ‘letting’ a child choose, or make their own decisions doesn’t mean that parents did them a favour. This should certainly not mean that children owe them the rest of their lives.
On the other hand, abandoning a child or cutting ties because they want to live life on their own terms isn’t good parenting. This not only closes a literal space for them, but also means that they can hardly come to you if they need help. And all of it for what? There’s no way that a personal belief can make us abandon someone we care for. Even objectively, having an opinion cannot justify shutting doors for a child, just because you disagree with them.
It’s ironic, that a lot of such actions are stemmed from the “log kya kahenge” attitude, when the last thing society does, is care. If at any point I question parents in general, or my parents, for that matter, I always get the typical “you’d get the concern when you’ll end up becoming a parent.” And I get that, I respect it as well – it’s easier said than done. But concern shouldn’t suffocate a person, it’s supposed to make them feel safe. Fear is understandable, specifically when it’s about someone we love and care about. But in this case, fear doesn’t mean that parents go on and live their child’s life for them.
Parents may not always be friends, they don’t necessarily have to be. But using control or fear as part of parenting techniques isn’t the answer either. While it’s impossible to agree with anyone, at all times – differences are not always bad. They’re definitely not a good enough reason to dictate someone else’s life. And none of it means that we need messiahs or superheroes, we just need normal people who see us as individuals and not versions of themselves.