Parents and Marriages

In the name of well wishers, as parents to our children, are we helping or harming them in their marriages?

With a rapid increase in divorce rates and broken marriages, it is high time that we question our role as parents in helping our kids to adjust better or pull apart in their marital life.

Research data of several years has proven that we are keen on saving property and money for our kids, often at the cost of our needs through sacrifices and sufferings, but we also inherit and transfer a lot of our own emotional baggage to our kids, that we never seem to recognize in our own life time.

What are those baggage? We do transfer very happily (knowingly or unknowingly) to our kids how it is important that kids always learn or should learn to model our behaviors, how we show emotions, how we behave with outsiders, how we lie, how we avoid situations, how we manipulate people, and how we play emotional games in the name of giving them love and affection.

“My Father was very strict and never allowed me to enjoy simple joys of life, so let me give my son full freedom to do or enjoy anything he wants without questioning why or its relevance”. This is a feeling that is often expressed…

While doing this, we need to realize that in reality we are passing on our baggage to our children. Suddenly, one fine day, we realize that the child is no longer in our control, has gone astray, does not recognize or respect work or money, and never even values “us” as parents. We wake up astonished that our children have picked up a lot of avoidable or questionable habits, including addictions, gambling, and what not!

How do we bring the child out of this? More often than not, the most common mode appears to be adding a responsibility to the child…in our context, marriage. Marriage is seen as our attempt to have someone else make our child responsible…the duty we shirked as parents.

What happens? Are we indeed making him responsible or are we now thrusting an unsuspecting individual into the mess we created? Is this something we would embrace if it was our daughter to be married to an addict?

We want our children to be modern in dressing, in behaviors, mannerisms, food habits but at the cost of being able to think through or recognize their own personal problems related to friends, education, or employment. At the cost of spending time with our children, we often make up our guilt through inanimate objects as gifts- the more expensive the better!

We want to be involved in everything including from what dress they should wear, to career choices, to life partners, to friends without giving an opportunity for them to express their thoughts or feelings, or an opportunity to recognize the consequences of their actions, or how to maintain human relations. One fine day, we just marry our “princess” or “prince” to someone of our choice..

Obviously, we have already crippled our children to choose what they want in life…and cover up by choosing a life partner that we prefer and meets our rather than their expectations.

The drama starts here. How? From the first day, our children move into a state of confusion- what should i expect from my spouse? dependency or independence?  How should i adjust to the new family? to the in-laws? should I be friendly or should i keep a distance- are they my friends or are they my enemies? Often, the children come back with jet speed- what should I do? How do I handle this problem? We feel great pride, then, in taking care of our children again, often not realizing that the advice we give is based on the baggage we carry! We tell them how to manipulate relations and people in the name of affection and love! Without probably realizing it, we are now an integral part of their marriage, pulling them apart, never letting them learn how to handle their problems, not recognizing changing priorities of the new couple.

“My Husband works late (my father always came home at 5 pm) ” “My wife is always working at the office, she does not cook dinner for me (my mother cooked hot meals for us)” are often heard complaints…and we advise them on how we reacted..without ever introspecting about our relations in the first place.

If we expect our children to live happily with their spouses, we should give them the space to learn through their mistakes, to grow together, to recognize the value of being related and intimate.

Are we giving our children those opportunities? Instead, it is now easier to solve the problem by avoiding it, “let us get a divorce”! Ask many lakhs of rupees to get financial security for the daughter…but do they compensate for emotional security and growth?

It is time parents wake up or grow.  Giving financial or career security to our children is just one aspect of parenting. We need to provide them with the skills to think for themselves, analyze solutions to problems and to choose the best solution that minimizes pain or distress. We need to help our kids decide things for themselves, the value of relations, importance of empathy and tolerance, understanding the limits of tolerance, letting go, and to appreciate the goodness in people. Let us care our kids to care for themselves and to take care of their lives. That is the greatest gift we can give our kids. Let us think about it!

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