Moment of Truth
I don’t know from which part of the World you may be reading this post and see the relevance of this topic for you. If you are from the West you may wonder why I have chosen this topic and if you are from India you may like to read on. Even if you are from the West would you still like to read further out of curiosity of this topic? Why not as you may get to know how human values are funny & different at different parts of the World. One of the myths that troubles parents these days is the belief that they only should arrange their children’s marriage. Due to this reason they are always anxious once the children reaches the teens to figure out whether their children is in relationship with someone. They are very watchful when they talk too long in their cellphone or too often noise of SMS receipt heard or when they lock up in their room and hooked on to the Internet. Strangely even parents who selected their partner on their own expect this option. Let us explore how to deal this “peace killer”. To do that we need to go little deeper to understand what is marriage and its social needs in the first instance.
The concept and purpose of marriage is different at different part of the world – in the West it is a companionship for the ‘time being’ and in the East it is a lifetime mutual commitment – living for each other as Rajneesh once said, “Marriage is the union of two souls”. Depending upon the paradigm the issue will take different level of importance in our life. Once when I was travelling in the UK someone asked me ‘How old is your marriage?’ for which I answered “25 years”. He was astonished and screamed, “How the hell are you living with the same woman for a quarter century?” The Western mind could not comprehend that one could live with the same person for such as long period. I remember a nice joke “Marriage is the costliest way of getting your laundry done”. Another interesting statement by Mark Twain “I feel lonely in the absence of my wife but feel suffocated in her presence!” These are from the West as you could see the way in which they portray the marriage.
In each country the laws are made around the belief; for example legalizing gay marriage in the West, which India would never do! It does not mean that there is no gay in any other country! In the so-called developed countries when the children reaches 16 they are eligible for motorcar license and to choose their partner. For all practical purposes they are “Adults” as the parents have to let-go off their offsprings at that point in time. The parents of those countries may be happy about this situation, as they have no responsibilities for their children. I have heard from many of these parents saying, “We have sacrificed our life for them so far and it is time to enjoy our holidays henceforth” They may be convincing them saying, “Birds drive away their little ones once they learn to fly and take care of themselves!” Human mind always find a way of escaping from realities. Animals come handy to refer at these circumstances; we say animals do ‘this’ or ‘that’. We also say sometimes ‘we are not animals’ – it depends upon the circumstances. USA is a land of freedom and all laws are formulated to protect the individual rights to choose but India is a conservative society got mixed up with its own traditional values and the Western influence due to colonial rule. We are neither here nor there. I like the concept ABCD – ‘American Born Confused Desi’ portrayed in one of the Hindi films.
Vast majority of Indian grown parents migrated to US wants to return back to India when their child is 11 years old particularly more so if it is a daughter as they feel they may lose control on their child and it may become astray. They are forced to let go the glamour of the developed country for which they went there for the sake of their desire to control their child. The attraction the land of US provided all along vanishes suddenly when they reach this stage of parenting! Quite strangely they picked up everything of ‘American’ – fast food, American accent, etiquette and other values but why not letting go off of their children as well? The so-called “India – the dirty country where their children could not use the toilet when they came for vacation has suddenly become a heaven?”
The reality is that they don’t want to let go off of their string of control attached to the children proving the old adage “Children never grow in the eyes of their parents” We want them dependent on us for ever. In fact the conflict between parents and child starts when they reach their teens as Rajneesh once said, “If your child refuses to obey you please check their birthday – you may find they have reached thirteen”. Why the child in the first instance asserts itself suddenly? What is the psychology? Parents suppress all emotions of the child ever since it has born and feel they are powerful till the child says ‘No’ to them. That is the moment of truth in which they realize that they have no power over them. For some unknown reason we want to control others while we hate to be controlled!
When I was young my mother used to tell us that she got married when she was nine years old as on those days child marriage was not illegal. She bore her first child when she just attained her puberty at 13 and delivered 14 babies till her menopausal. She said once, “I used to have one baby in my hand and another in my stomach!”. My father was a doctor and professor in maternity who managed all deliveries of babies at home – no medical expenses!! In addition to perennial pregnancy the torture she went through by her tyrant in-laws was far worse than apartheid of South Africa. Compared to the previous century women of India who were asked to jump in the fire of their husband’s cremation, my mother was in a better place! Atrocity over woman in this country was unexplainable on those days and no better these days as well. I am deeply thinking why on those days child marriage was rampant? Parents wanted to choose the life partner of their child and were afraid that if the child has reached the adulthood it would be difficult to force their choice. This old paradigm still lingers in the modern parents mind due to which they feel that they are wiser to choose the life partner for their children.
I know many family relationships between parents and children have broken forever due to the reason their son or daughter has married someone without their consent. More than anything else his or her children married someone from other caste although may be the same religion. Whatever could be the reason the end result was suffering for both the parties on this context. The problem is due to European adulteration in India due to colonial rule for centuries – we have mixed up with our native values and western mindset. This blog is not to advice the younger generation to choose arranged marriage or vice versa; but to reeducate the parents to deal with these situations without loosing their peace in their life.
Here is a story: One atheist wanted to prove that he is smarter than the evolved Masters. He kept on going to each master and asked them, “Will you explain the entire Doha in the shortest time possible? – I will stand on one leg as long as possible till it pains and stand on two legs; that is all the time you have to explain the entire Doha” Most of the masters gave up saying “Doha is made up of several volumes and you idiot; how anyone can explain all that in such a short time?” The atheist was happy that he won and went on testing all masters. Finally one of the masters said, “Beta I don’t need that long a time to explain the essence of Doha”. The guy was shocked and thought the master is pulling a fast one and asked him to go ahead. The master said, “The Doha says ‘Treat everyone as you would expect them to treat you’ – rest all the commentary”
What relevance this story has anything do with our context? When we were young we had certain expectations from our parents but when we become parents we change our rule towards our children and impose many rules, which is impediments to their development. The parent child relationship is the result of certain way we relate to our children – the following paradigms would give you some insights:
Paradigm-1: Be wise to distinguish what cannot be controlled
Many parents are deeply attached to their children right form their toddler stage and continue to remain that way even when they are grown as adults. They believe that their children would do everything with their consent and get devastated when they come to know that their children have already chosen their life partner and decided to marry them. Sri. Ravishankar once said, “Expectation reduces the joy of life”; it is extremely important to note what level of expectations to set particularly with our children. Bagwan Lord Krishna says in Gita, “We must live life like the lotus flower which has born, grows and dies in water but never makes contacts with it – similarly human beings must learn to develop a detached attachment with everything & relationship in their life!”. It may sound philosophical and impractical to adopt but remember philosophy is not an empty bragging but a practical wisdom to avoid miseries of life. As the children grow please develop a mindset to let go to their choices.
Paradigm-2: Why Children settles scores with parents?
Unconsciously parents tend to control their children right from they have born and this repressed emotions develop an animosity in the sub-conscious minds of their children. The volcano simmers waiting to explode which happens when they reach their teen age. They start doing everything that their parents would not like. The only way we can avoid is by stopping the domination over our children. It is difficult as we are so used to control our child and changing our style requires constant practice. In fact selecting a partner which parents wont like is also a manifestation of suppressed anger.
Paradigm-3: Create a credential with your child
Parents are the primary source of inspiration for their children as is proved by many offspring of artists. We find almost all cine actors’ sons become actors and music composer’s sons become composers. It is a big responsibility on the parts of the parents to develop credentials with their children, which is important for them to feel that they will be better off with the guidance of the parents. Many parents are not setting a good example to their children and hence they are not role modeling them. If you want your children to seek your advice you will have prove to them that you are a source of resource for them. Many children seek their parents help to select their partners these days which is the result of their assessment of their parents as they feel that they will look at all angles than them.
Paradigm-4: Religion & caste divide us – conspiracy of priest
The prophets visited this planet have attempted to transform the human beings to a better way of living and never proposed a religion to follow. They have transcended their ego and were not looking for the number of their followers. After the prophets departed from their human form their followers have vested interest for controlling the innocent people and created the religion to force them through dogmas & rituals. In essence I am of the view that the purpose of religion if any is to unite people and not for creating hatred. But it has divided people into million caste and sub-caste creating enormous animosity among us. The belief and rituals have become the main stream of life leaving the value aside. I may appear to you as an ‘Atheist’ or a rebel because I am challenging the forces that have created havoc for mankind; but think carefully what is important is human value and not the religion or caste. When your offspring chooses to marry someone from other caste or religion please see the character and values of their family and not their belief. I have witnessed many pairs co-exist together in harmony following their religion or embracing the other religion gracefully.
Paradigm-5: Relationship is more important than our ego
Please remember your love towards your children and their happiness is of paramount importance and not your ego. When your children announce their decision to marry some one of their choices, don’t get hurt that they have ignored you and allow your ego to pop up. Swami Sukhbodananda says ‘EGO’ is ‘Edging God Out’ which means that once ego is present you have edged divine out of you. These states make you to retain your hurt feeling and prevent you from accepting your children’s decision and forgive them. When you retain the feeling of hurt ‘you are hurting yourself more than the others’. I know parents suffered high BP due to retention of feeling of hurt and became all right the moment they forgiven their offsprings.
Paradigm-6: Children select better partners sometimes
I know many cases where children selected a best partner, which parents themselves would not have selected. The choices made by their children might belong to other caste but they don’t see this as a barrier. I notice these parents gracefully accepted their children’s choice and performed their marriage and blessed them. Their religious practices may differ between two families but they learned to co-exist together.
Paradigm-7: Getting even with children destroys our health & peace
Our life has its own path and purpose and when we get even with our children for having chosen their own life partner, we get even with them through out our life. Once the relationship got strained between the parents and child both of them cannot live happily which affects their peace in many forms. When the peace is lost it starts eating us out leading to many physical disorders. One of the greatest wisdom I heard is “People don’t die due to what they eat; but due to what is eating them!” Remember to purge all your suppressed emotions and your health will become normal without any medication”
Paradigm-8: Be a facilitator – not a decision maker for children
Remember you are not the dictator of your family in particular to your children. In people management there is a concept called ‘Situational leadership’ which preaches that there is no one single way you can lead people. It depends upon their maturity levels. This applies to our children as well. As the children grows parents need to shift from highly directive behaviour to participative, collaborative and finally delegation style. If parents continue to behave like a dictator even as the children grow the problem starts. Learn situational leadership skills as your children grow.
Paradigm-9: Everyone wants ‘Freedom of choice’
All creations in this planet like freedom of choice. One of the greatest thinkers defined Maturity as, “The ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts & feelings of others”. When we go to the restaurant we try and impose the dishes we like the most to our family. Often we wonder how someone can like a dish, which we dislike the most and the colour we hate the most becomes the best choice of other. Remember, you need a large heart to let your loved one’s to make their choice.
Paradigm-10: ‘Let go’ of children
The most important philosophical fact is “We cannot possess anything in our life which includes your own children. In the ultimate analysis nothing matters”. I remember a statement in the old train coaches where I travelled reads as “Carry less luggage and make your travel pleasant”. This applies to the life as well – as we grow we need to learn to lessen our luggage, which is our expectations and attachments – If we don’t do this, our life journey will not be pleasant. Be wise to relinquish your greatest attachment with children learning from the less developed species – the birds & animals.
Let Love & harmony prevail in your family
Many more myths & matters to follow