First thing first, I love my parents. No matter how hard it is to negotiate my boundaries with them, I still love them. Even if they completely dismiss my arguments by their conservative taunts, I still… kinda love them. But one thing that I have to admit is that with the passage of time, my relationship has been profoundly changed with my conservative parents. Why? I grew up, bhai!
And with every passing year, my mother was like:
The generation gap has played a lethal role
My father is 72 years old (MashAllah), which means he has immense experience in life. It is very hard for him to validate or accept something coming from a person of my age. Being old has made him somewhat self-righteous. There is a huge cultural difference between the 90’s and our present time, so sometimes it becomes very difficult to make him understand that I cannot just stay home and get all the exposure. I need to meet new people and socialize but he wants me to be home as soon as my classes end because halaat kharaab hain. And by any chance, if I succeed in making a point during this argument, there comes the worst part; wrath.
It is impossible to have a conversation with them
It is almost impossible to have a conversation with your parents. You see, it takes two to have a conversation. But when your parents are talking, you cannot speak. Which also means that they would insist that you their constant “Bolti kyun nahi, hain?” “Hain?” And as soon as you utter a word, there you go!
Congratulations, you have earned the label of a blunt, badtameez daughter.
They objectify me when I wear something other than my usual eastern outfit
Every day before getting ready for university, I ask myself; “Will my parents approve of these clothes?” I can’t wear clothes that aren’t long enough. If I do, it means I am declaring war. They would make me feel so awkward by examining me from head to toe, literally making me cringe and wonder if they are actually my parents…
They are unable to catch up with my contemporary lifestyle
I won’t blame them for this actually. They are culturally anchored in an earlier time, you cannot possibly do something about it. Every conversation starts from “Hamare zamanay mein“. I understand that they have been holding onto their values for a very long time and it is hard for them to catch up with new, different, unfamiliar and, experimental ideas of the contemporary world but, hello, you brought me into this world! I try to understand your position as much as I can but who will understand me?
To some degree, social change culturally differentiates the generations. That is just how life is.
No concept of conflict resolution
When there is a huge generation gap, it is very likely to have a conflict of values and principles but who cares? Being a parent, they are entitled to rule us, apparently. Their perspective of life is generally black or white. They are uncomfortable with the idea of a grey zone. Let me simplify it, for them, there is no middle ground.
Being forced to live two realities
Their desire to see you as a doctor/engineer is very innocent. So basically, I have been living two realities; one where I am a submissive and obedient daughter who just wants to study, do chores and marry the person of their choice, and the other one for myself where I am a well aware feminist. This makes me question my own identity. I don’t know where to belong anymore. If they wanted me to live the former reality, why bother to educate me? Oh, wait, that is for getting a good rishta, not for individual growth, I guess.
Getting no emotional support whatsoever
They are so inaccessible at times, that you just cannot confide in them when something is bothering you. Their biases and prejudices always halted me from reaching out to them during the lows in my life. Their emotional unavailability has led me to have unstable or failed relationships, emotional neediness, empty voids, identity confusion, poor attachment to others, low self-esteem and what not.
You may not agree with them but you always love them
Despite the fact that they have made my life difficult, I cannot complain or blame them for bad parenting and raising an anxious/depressed/unstable adult because they will be hurt. They are old, and would probably not be able to accept the fact that they messed up.
But I am also grateful to them for a lot of sacrifices that they made for me. That’s why I mentioned in the beginning that I love my parents, regardless. As difficult as it is to believe, emotionally unavailable parents have a host of their own problems that might go back as far as their own childhood.
It is hard, really hard to reconcile but at the end of the day, you can blame them but not hate them. You can resent them for being old-school, fight with them but you cannot deny the fact that you appreciate their existence in your life with every fiber of your being.
Cover image via MD Productions