‘Our First Relationship’

The first thing we see when we open our eyes after we were born was our parents. Their first touch makes us stop crying. We instantly know we can trust them and from the day on, our parents work every day to make us smile, laugh, and give us a bright future. As kids, our parents are our world and we are theirs. They teach us every little thing by holding our hands. ‘learning alphabets’, ‘our first bicycle ride’, ‘our birthday parties’ all make us feel very special that we know we are their little prince/princess. I still remember one evening I casually asked my father to buy me an ice cream, the next minute I know was that he filled our freezer with ice creams. It was like he bought me an ice cream parlor and I instantly knew I am special and I am his little princess. As we slowly grow up, we go to school and then to college and university. We start observing the world around us. We watch our friends, their parents, and families. All of a sudden, we realize that our family isn’t perfect and our little world has its problems. The thoughts that our parents are perfect might slowly get shattered and we start seeing the other side of our family that we never thought of as kids. While some kids continue to respect and follow their parents, few kids feel resentment towards them especially during adolescence or in young adulthood. It’s always questionable that ‘why do kids resent their parents?’ is it kids’ fault? Parent’s fault? Or both?

Why do kids resent their parents?

There is one super hit movie about the father-son relationship in my native language. The father loves his son so much, provides everything the son could ever imagine, and also plans to offer his son the company he raised for the son’s future. Despite everything, the son feels he is locked up in a prison and resents his father till the end of the movie. Why? Because every time the father buys something for his son, a shirt or a bike he only thinks about how good it looks and how much he liked it instead of how much his son liked and wanted it. There is this one scene where the father and son both go shopping, the son picks up fancy shirts that make him feel young but the father picks up formal shirts and convinces his son to try them out. Before the son explains that he didn’t like it, the father happily buys them for his son. Although it looks very simple and petty, little things like this have a greater impact on the kid than we think we do. Fortunately, the movie has a happy ending where the father ends up understanding everything he did and apologizes to his son but how many of the kids in real life end up having a happy ending with their parents?

Such kind of parenting can precisely be seen in Indian culture. Indian parents get to choose what kind of toys their children should play with, what color they need to wear, what subjects to take to university, to when and who to get married to. An interesting article in Times of India elaborated the results of an HSBC Study on the hopes and expectations of the parents on their children’s education in which almost a dozen countries have participated. According to the study, when parents asked to rank the three important goals that they want their children to achieve, 51% of Indian parents choose successful careers, 49% choose happiness in life, 33% choose a healthy lifestyle, 22% wanted their children to earn enough for a comfortable life and only 17% choose for their children to reach their highest potential. In the contrast, more than a dozen countries ranging from Indonesia (56%), Hong Kong (58%), UAE (60%), UK (77%), Canada (78%), and France (86%) choose happiness in life as their ultimate goal while successful careers were only 17% in UK and Australia. The survey also showed 91% of the Indian parents wanted their children to have at least an under graduation and more than 88% of parents wanted masters and even higher degree and when inquired about the subjects most of the Indian parents choose engineering (23%), followed by business management and finance (22%), computer and information sciences (16%), medicine (14%) and law (2%).  While it’s great to know that Indian parents want their kids to have successful careers, this does pose an interesting question about how many parents will consider their kids’ opinion if they wish to have a life opposite to their parents’ expectations?

This brings me back to the day when I had to choose my subjects in my college. I was interested in taking up Biology but my father insisted on taking Mathematics and Physics so I can pursue Engineering. Fortunately, I ended up taking the subject I like but I do know many kids who are forced to take up careers that their parents wish to. When I talked to my mother and too many parents about this, everyone had a common answer “We do it for our kids and their happiness. These decisions will make them happy and secure in the future”. Now, it’s understandable but questionable. “Will the happiness of both parents and kids confined to the same decisions? Will things that made parents happy also make their kids happy? Will the kids have the same ideologies and goals in life as their parents?” and the answer is NO! A BIG NO!! Kids are different from their parents, their tastes, likes, interests including color, fashion to career are different. No kid turns out to be an exact copy of their parents. Many factors including environment, peers, schooling, etc. influences their choices in life and it’s okay for them to choose the opposite of their parents’ expectations. It’s their life and they have complete right to do so. One of the reasons that make a person happy and satisfied in life is when they do not live with regrets and that can only be achieved when they are given the “freedom of choice”. Turning back at their life, a person should not feel that their life would have been different if they had taken up decisions on their own. After all, it’s not a crime to choose on their own, and doing so they become more independent, confident, and ultimately satisfied and contented in life. They learn their mistakes by experience and in the end, every kid only expects their parents to understand and be their backbone irrespective of what they choose.

So, the next time your kid chooses something opposite to your expectation, remember that “They are not wrong, they are just different”.


Sravani Mangalampalli