Daddy is proud of how disciplined, mature and quiet the kid is, the kid is journaling about anxiety, hating people and posting “fuck you my child is completely fine” tik-toks on Instagram. The 12-year-old who refused to eat green vegetables, woke up at nine instead of seven, is 19 today. They deal with vegetables; make you get up at 7. But, how do they or rather how can they, deal with the crippling anxiety, the desire to run away into the woods, how to deal with the ‘son’ who is putting she/them in their bio, how to deal with the daughter writing an article about their failed parenting.
There are different ways to deal with an infant, a teenager and an adult because their requirements, demands and vulnerabilities vary. Now, there are a million books, advice and resources available on how to deal with an infant considering none of us died because our parents forgot to feed us or something. This kind of expertise to know exactly what a kid needs, starts failing gradually in the teenage years when rebellion is all there is and the problematic kid rises. There are no words about puberty or mental health, none at all about sex or sexuality, because apparently, morality. Morality evolved; our parents are carrying the same burden. When one refuses to carry this burden forward and ‘rebels’, they are thrashed–like literally (physical abuse, yelling as a form of discipline and taking pride in the same is worthy of another article). They were not ‘taught’ about this, were never prepared, never grew past that parent of a 12-year-old.
But, parents care. Asking us to eat healthy, reminding us to clean rooms, wear socks and whatnot, but this kind of care fails to include the emotional support, advice and care that an adult requires. And of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent out there. I’m sure there are healthy filial relationships, where both sides are content. An adult is aware of their surroundings, they no longer need to be mollycoddled, but parents expect us to be those same children because essentially, they are the same parents.
Most of us can’t go to our parents with our issues past that teenage phase. It’s not “I need help for my homework” or, “the other kids in the bus didn’t save me a seat” anymore. It’s the pressure to excel now, continuous questioning of your worth, the uneasiness with your own identity, about the frequent bouts with mental illness. Parents don’t know how to handle this. They love us dearly, and nothing can match that level of sacrifice and devotion but trying to cheer us up with ice creams, or cooking our favourite meals doesn’t work anymore.
Approaching parents regarding such issues is extremely difficult. They ridicule the problems, approach them with insensitivity, make you feel insignificant, making things awkward, they repeat, “hume pta hai, hum bade hai.” Lessons learned from such incidents dig the divide deeper and deeper until the relation is frayed completely and parents lose their relevance. They refuse to grow, refuse to adapt and move ahead and at this point what else can one do other than posting private stories and bonding with strangers over shared trauma.
Our parents have parents who failed at parenting and they passed it down to them, they also have their traumas and struggles whether they are conscious about them or not, which they pass on to us. Being aware of this chain when interacting with parents is necessary. Being aware that they stopped evolving a long time ago is necessary.
The realization that no middle ground could be built where our ways of receiving and reciprocating love meet, leads to the bridge between the two being broken. A certain sense of affiliation gets lost after this, a certain amount of affection falls into that abyss and who could’ve prevented it? Two truths stood facing each other on the ends of that bridge, neither ready to cross it and move with the other. It was the difference that was increasingly becoming difficult to exist with and who could say they didn’t see it coming.
This article has been written by Manvi Panwar, Ist year