Generations apart

In thinking. In values.

I read Usha’s post this morning. Earlier I read Maami’s post too. All these coupled with the thoughts that have been running in circles in my head had to find expression today here. Growing up, I had grandparents live with us both paternal and maternal. As a child their presence in my life was subtle and very deep. I was aware of the premium that was placed on filial responsibility by both my parents. In many ways that has shaped who I am. It was easy telling myself that as I grew I would take care of my parents and my in laws. That ‘care’ has so many implications to it is an eye opener to me.

Fiscal, emotional and physical demands either direct or implied tests my values and beliefs. While I want to be the responsible daughter, I often find myself juggling personal needs with unstated expectations that comes with the job of trying being the perfect daughter. Each time I plan a vacation I am torn between wanting to go away just as a couple and wanting to include mom or FIL in our trip. If I do decide not to include them, I am wracked with guilt. Every phone call that I make and hear a voice that is not exactly cheerful, I feel responsible. I want to make them happy but some times we do not see eye to eye on what defines happiness.

On the other hand, I read books and see a different world around me from what I grew up in. The consistent message being ‘you are responsible for your happiness’. You make your life to be what it is. It is OK to put the self first and not be guilty about it.  Torn between the concept of owning responsibility for another person’s happiness and letting go I find myself confused and often being unable to please either. It does not help that acquiescence is equated with love and respect either.

I realize there is no one way/right way to navigate this generational shift. We each find our way stepping on emotional minefields and getting bruised occasionally. Just as our parents/older generation learn to cope with the distance physical and emotional, we learn to take greater responsibility for ourselves.

6 thoughts on “Generations apart

  1. The situation is tricky but its a balance that MUST MUST MUST be struck.

    YEs, there are some traditions that must be done, and then there are some that need to be broken. For example, if you want to go on a trip alone, you should. You deserve it. Its your life too. there is no need to feel guilty. If you are not rejuvenated and in love and happy, how are you going to be able to reflect this in your life?

    You balance this out with another trip planned especially with FIL and the rest. I know this is hard to hear, but many parents dont know any other way and sometimes, expect far more than our lives can offer them, and sometimes they need to know the boundaries. Its not disrespectful if you choose to show it to them in a nice way.

  2. The structure and function of family as an institution have undergone tremendous changes in the past 3 or 4 decades. There are instances when even spouses live apart for extended periods. Employment necessities have scattered the branches of a family all over the world. Under these circumstances it is tough to ensure the kind of family support that used to be available during the time of our grandparents. You cannot take them on every holiday or include them in every activity but plan some time for them every year – bring them over or go to them. write / talk to them as often as you can. And when there are medical emergencies try to be around.
    The older generation, for their part, must learn to cope with the changes too and not get too emotionally dependent on their children. This can happen by developing other interests beyond the family.
    Things have changed forever. it is not possible to put the clock back. The smart thing is to learn to accept and make changes to our lifestyle.

  3. Things have changed, still I see many of my friends who are the only son are being asked to go back to India just to be with their parents. On the other hand some parents want to be independent. But as Usha mentioned its kids responsibility to attend their parents or try to be around in medical emergencies at least. And physically also it’s not possible to take your mom/FIL to all the trip. I think it will take few more generations for all the parents to be completely independent.

  4. Neat article.
    Ditto Usha. On a wayward note I’d say we fuss too much over our children while bringing them up;similarly we fuss too much over the older citizens at home. It’s important to be practical to let your children turn independent and confident, as is to sent signals to parents that until they are incapacitated they cannot be a spoke in a growing family’s needs.

  5. Hey Laksh, I can so echo with your thoughts. It happens everyday if you are staying closer and in no way you can make everyone happy… that sure shot is not possible. Only way to happiness is all with our own selves. Agreed we can make people happy by doing small little things at times but it’s not possible to keep everyone happy all the time.. !! Come to think of it, we need to have these emotions and have to get torn between emotions.. what’s life without these turmoils?? 🙂

  6. @SSQUo: Totally agree. The quandry is in the fact that our parents in their youth gave it up for us and for their parents. So, each time I decide to be selfish, I feel sad for they get shorted on both ends.
    @Usha: Absolutely right on. You have this knack of expressing things in a way that fits just right.
    @Sudha: Agreed. I am sure our generation will be able to balance these aspects well. Who knows what kind of surprises are in store for us?
    @maami: Honored by your stopping by. Yours is one blog I admire a lot. Love your style of writing. And agree with what you say re this post.
    @Saras: super! your last line cinches it all.

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