I had a friend who was in a steady relationship for more than five years. Once over coffee, I asked her when she planned to settle down (marry) her boyfriend. She said they were in love but would never be able to get married.
Reason – parents would never approve of their match as they belonged to different castes. She explained further how they had individually tried to convince their parents but to no avail. One parent even threatened self-immolation if they got married!
Shocked because I could not understand why two educated people were not allowed to spend their lives together, in spite of loving and complimenting each other so well. Sad because I could see her eyes well up before me..
This made me wonder – are we as a society just progressing in terms of technology, telecommunication and infrastructure, with our belief system still a century behind?
How can we justify our love for our children, if we force them to abandon a life of their choice, thus making their lives devoid of all happiness and contentment?
I am reminded of a conversation between my aunt and mother long back. My conservative aunt, who came from an affluent business family, once asked my mother if she would ever allow her children to go for a ‘love marriage’.
My mom in her usual cool demeanour answered, ‘I want my daughter to decide which pair of jeans she likes when we go shopping, something which I know she would not wear after two years. Of course, I would want her to make her own choice when it comes to a life partner; after all she has to spend her life with him. I will never force her for anything’.
I always admired my mother, but since that day, she became an even bigger hero for me.
Both my parents grew up in the 60’s with no internet or TV for exposure (perhaps the same time when my friend’s parents grew up too). However, they understood this basic principle of life – freedom is the key ingredient of happiness.
Choice in marriage is just one of the major decisions in one’s life. As guardians, we should trust our children with other important decisions too. Choice of career is one.
Our job as parents is to give wings to our child’s aspirations, not obstruct them. Let them fly high and free, without the heaviness of our expectations on their shoulders.
In Khalil Gibran’s words:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”