“Freedom can wait, I’m staying put for Dad”

Ashwathy shared a link with this message,

“There are a lot of people sharing this on Facebook and applauding the attitude of the girl. While it’s definitely good that she is taking care of her parents… somewhere I really felt that she is losing out on her own life in the process. What about her own dream to travel, see the world, live by herself, work in a different country etc etc.?
Why is nobody seeing that aspect?”

What would you do if you were in this daughter’s place, or in place of her parents?

Take a look at some excerpts from the post,

“I had it all worked out for after my graduation ceremony in August. First, no more curfews. Then, short internships overseas, a yearly holiday to Seoul, perhaps even a fulltime job abroad.

Finishing university would be my ticket to independence and freedom. But something I did not expect is happening – my father is growing older.

…My father was a formidable force, full of contradictions: loving but harsh, intellectual but distant. He watched sappy Korean TV dramas but never discussed relationships or boys with my two sisters and me.

With time, there was a growing tension between us over this rigidity, and particularly his insistence that I give up my decade-long involvement in theatre. It was my passion, pride and joy, but he had other ideas on what strengths I should focus on.

So I stopped when I started university, but as an unspoken compromise I refused the usual applications to study medicine or law.

In my second year as a communications student, I went on an exchange programme to Seoul and those five months provided me experiences I had never had back home. When I came back, I longed to leave again.

Now, with only months to go, something has changed, and it has to do with my father’s health.

Once, we were at a clinic and my father fell to the ground. It is hard to describe how it feels to see your parent fall, like a child.

Now he goes to bed earlier than I do, and I am often the last to lock up at home, a job only he used to do.

I realise I have my freedom, but suddenly I am not taking flight as swiftly as I imagined I would.

My sisters and I have begun switching roles at home with our parents. We buy lunch and dinner. We coordinate who will be home, who will keep track of our father’s progress. We set our own curfews now.

As I prepare to graduate in three months, it is dawning on me that this ticket to freedom comes with an attached ‘responsibility’ voucher and I must weigh both carefully.

These days, my father never declares what I should do with my future, and I know he will not ask me to stay in Singapore. The time for keeping me safe at home has passed.

But perhaps it is now my turn to acknowledge that with freedom comes a duty I owe my old man who gave up his own freedom decades ago to raise three daughters.

And so the overseas plans can wait. For now, I will stay. Because even though I have never been a Daddy’s girl, I am my father’s daughter. ” [Read the entire article here.]

I thought this was sad. Not having a choice is not called growing up. It’s okay to live
your life and it’s okay to accept limitations – but can a lack of choices really be a choice? I also feel she is not happy. And where’s the mother?

Related Posts:

So what do our children owe us?

With due respect Parenting ≠ Martyrdom – Amit

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110 thoughts on ““Freedom can wait, I’m staying put for Dad”

  1. I think this is fine. She seems okay with her choice. Her father does not seem to be demanding it of her. She’s right, with freedom comes responsibility and she is being a responsible daughter.

  2. It was her choice to stay with her dad..no one asked her to.
    One could look at my life and feel sorry that i quit my job to be a stay at home mother…but it was MY choice and decision to do so.
    Similarly..in this story the girl made a decision to help her dad..how is that such a bad thing?? She could have gone ahead with her life plans but who knows..maybe if she had chosen to move away, she would have always worried about her dad and probably wouldnt have enjoyed what she was doing so much.
    As for the other things that you ask in your reply to a previous comment..about what other freedom did she have…she lived with her parents..was a lot younger and like in all households..its “my house..my rules”!
    I have re read the post and still fail to see how this article is considered sad and how it can be seen as denying a person her choice or freedom. Tell me something..some day God forbid if one of your parents required some help, would you just shrug it off saying Im not going to help them because I will lose my freedom? Hopefully you wont..because thats what families do..they stay by each other and not because they HAVE to but because they WANT to.

  3. For some reason, the topic of filial relationships tends to polarize people instantly. The stereotype of the modern youngster abandoning the poor old sacrificing parents for supposedly selfish reasons has pervaded society so completely that it makes debate on the topic impossible.

    Let’s reverse the situation. Suppose this was a mother, who wanted to care for her children better and felt that she could do so only do so by giving up her own dreams. Would we support such a woman’s choice?

    Personally, I think it’s okay to make such choices as long as it’s a CHOICE, made after carefully examining the alternatives.

    It’s important to emphasize that giving up your passions for the sake of someone else has tremendous costs.

    It may make you feel good to be a martyr today, but what about tomorrow? Will you be okay with this life fifteen years from now? Will you be able to truthfully utter the proverbial “no regrets” when all is said and done? Will you be able to wake up in the morning each day without being bitter about the world?

    If the answer to those questions is yes, I’d say, go ahead.

    If not, a rational rethink, without melodramatic considerations, is certainly in order. What is your aim in sacrificing? Is the aim truly the welfare of your parents or is it merely a way to feel less guilty about living your own life? If it’s the latter, best scrap your plans to stay back, go ahead and do what you want. That’s what your parents would desire too, and you’re helping no one by staying.
    If the reason is truly the welfare of your parents, can better alternatives be thought of? Perhaps a professional caretaker can be hired. Perhaps your parents would like to live with some relatives. Perhaps they want to travel and do something for themselves. There are a number of options. Why not take a look at them?

    Like the mommy-war myths, I personally think it’s a myth that parents can only be taken care of if the kids stay with them. To the contrary, my experience says that this breeds conflict and misery, especially if the kids are married and/or highly ambitious.
    Especially in a developed country like Singapore, where more than adequate infrastructure for taking care of the elderly already exists, there is no reason at all that people should feel they have no choice but to stay with their parents.

  4. Comment from facebook:
    Nisha Salim
    Ah! The gloriously flawed Eastern philosophy of filial piety. The problem here is that this decision – made by a rationally thinking individual (hopefully) – is being lauded as the most appropriate. There is an implication that this is just the way things should be; so errant and children who want to have a life of their own must read this article and open their eyes.

    My personal opinion is that it is parents who are responsible for the welfare of the children because they brought the kids into this world, the kids never asked to be born. What the kids do after they become adults is their business, their choice.

    Most people operate on the basis of their own personal biases and social conditioning, so what this girl is doing is not all that strange. Most Indian kids too sacrifice their entire lives for their parents.

    • There is an implication that this is just the way things should be; so errant and children who want to have a life of their own must read this article and open their eyes

      There are going to be people who will say, “oh look, that’s what SHE did for her parents, why don’t you do it too”?

      Well, because I’m not her, and her assumptions, philosophy and circumstances are not the same as mine.

      I don’t see anything wrong with this woman’s choice, because she seems to have thought it out well, but it shouldn’t be degenerated into the “done thing”, which everyone should emulate regardless of how they feel about it themselves..

      • When individuals choose to behave in ways that would normally be considered atypical, it’s always a hassle for other people who tread the path of normality. An analogy would be how people who donate to charity make the others look bad, because if you think of it, not contributing to charity does not really make someone a bad person. Eventually it’s all about comparisons and where you get placed in the relative good-person pecking order.

  5. I agree with Nish – I don’t think she’s being forced to take care of her father…Ideally, she would have traveled but life is hardly ever ideal…Responsibility often leads to sacrifice…

      • I think we can have a counter story in which parents feel that keeping an adult child to take care of themselves is not what they brought them into the world for, in which they feel guilty about a young girl about to sacrifice her career for them. That would set an example for being good parents as well. This would set some standards for being “good” parents.

  6. I dont think there is any issue here because its the girl’s choice…as long as its one’s choice, I think its perfectly okie to decide whether you want to fly away to freedom or be free to take care of your parents…the problem arises when there are expectations…by parents…that their children SHOULD take care of them…

    Once expectations come in, it becomes like a responsibility you dont want, and that leads to discontent within the family!

    But in this case, I think it was completely the girl’s choice..and she went ahead with it

  7. Tricky one and one I can identify with to an extent.

    After my BTech at IIT I had to decide whether to go to the US to do a Masters (had got a schol from Cornell) or stay back and do my MBA from an IIM.
    I chose the second option because I felt I could help my folks better by staying put in India. Now I think of that as the idealism of youth.

    However after exactly 2 years post MBA (and after being married for the same no. of years), after considerable thought, we moved abroad and stayed there for the next 8 years. My relationship with my folks is as good as ever – they came over a few times and I visited every year. We are now back in des.

    My point – the girl in question should not look at a short horizon of the next 3-4 years to take on the physical responsibility of her folks. These years are critical for her in terms of career/other options. She can delegate what she thinks she will do to maybe her siblings who are around, or make some other arrangement.

    5-7 years down the line is when she will really need to help her folks. She might be better prepared in all ways if she focuses on herself right now.

    • I have a story to stay on similar lines. I was the eldest son in the family and grew up with lots of conditioning on the regular stuff (respect what your parents say irrespective of whether they really care or understand what you want, take care of family, won’t hurt your parents, elder gets married first, etc..) . So after a MSc physics at IIT, Kanpur if I had my way I would have loved to go broad an do a ph.d But was always under lots of indirect pressure and would never do anything that would hurt them. (also had two young sisters and I didn’t wanted to set a bad precedent so that they wouldn’t be allowed to study if I do so-called wild things). My compromise was I opted for a shorter-India based option and did a Mtech at IIT, Bombay and barely I had finished it I got engaged and married on the end of the program.

      Looking back I feel it was not so important, maybe I was putting the blame of my parents and never really willing to work hard to go abroad (prepare GRE, etc). Furthermore, both my sisters are now in USA after academics, job etc and really din’t matter. And I am away from them at Hyderabad. In today’s story it really doesn’t matter where am I, USA or Hyderabad is almost as good. And I really regret that I should have done a phd in physics abroad. And parents, society etc after initial flux, everything gets back to normal.. And that I din’t go abroad, seriously doesn’t even count. Probably if I had gone abroad – they could boast about in their connections! But that is something they din’t see it when we were fighting our way out in life!

      • Agree – it really does not matter where one is located physically – India or abroad, perhaps till the point where parents are totally unable to take care of themselves. Even after that there are multiple options, these days mobility is not really an issue if one really wants it. Many of my batchmates who went to the US post IIT are now back, and many of the IIM batchmates went abroad and are still there. So that decision of mine in hindsight is almost irrelevant from that POV. But then that was then, and no regrets!

        We are three sisters and hence I relate to this girl in that sense as well. The three of us will take over our parents’ care when it comes to it – right now we do bits and pieces as and when required. There was/is no expectation of this especially given my background (Gujju businessfolk) – in fact we are supposed to be ‘like sons’, something we take offence to.

        I do wonder though what my choices/decisions would have been had I been born a son.

  8. It’s clear from the outset that this was ‘her’ choice, and in the world where everything moves too fast and changes every day, this is a perfect example of caring for one another. There will be a point when we will grow old (assuming, immaturely we are all young yet) and we too would like someone to care for us, during a time where the world is getting distant and reality of death is closing in.

    I find this women an extremely caring person – and I salute her for what she has sacrificed so far.

    • ^THIS perfectly encapsulates the reason I felt uncomfortable with the whole thing.

      This is exactly what I was talking about – people holding her personal choice as a perfect one-size-fits-all example that (by implication) everyone should follow.

      This is what happens every time such stories do the rounds, and this is why I don’t like them, even if I support the individual choices made by the protagonists.

      • To imply this is ‘one-size-fits-all’ is a cheap way to describe it. It’s called caring and on a bigger scale known as humanity. Sure, people have their own dreams and sure people have the right to choose what path they should follow or indeed invent a new path – but the reality of such situation is different.

        Often I find people, to give up their life-styles to go and help those in Africa, or go help those in areas where natural disasters have befallen, remarkable and no short of being hero’s. I guess, inside them, there is a feeling of satisfaction of doing the right thing, when you know you had other options which only benefited you.

        • “I guess, inside them, there is a feeling of satisfaction of doing the right thing, when you know you had other options which only benefited you.”

          I guess PT’s point is that doing something or sacrificing for others should not be held as the “right” thing, thereby implying that people who chose to do something for themselves are doing the “wrong” thing.

        • “Often I find people, to give up their life-styles to go and help those in Africa, or go help those in areas where natural disasters have befallen”

          It is appreciative work they are doing. BUT it is their personal choice too. Those who don’t go to Africa or help befallen cannot be automatically classified as non-caring. That is actually the point.

        • @The British Asian Blog,
          …people, to give up their life-styles to go and help those in Africa, or go help those in areas where natural disasters have befallen, remarkable and no short of being hero’s.
          That is their choice but it is not for every one. We cannot judge all those who do not quit their jobs and lives to go helping out because we do not know what their circumstances are what personal monsters they are dealing with. Then there are few who go around helping rather rescuing coz’ they are running from personal monsters. It is easier to fix other people’s problems than to face your own.
          To each their own but the bottom line remains how to draw a balance and not put a martyr hat and sulk or brandish your sacrifices. It is pretty Desi thing to say I gave up XYZ for you especially desi moms saying, “I slept in the wet and kept you dry…”
          Yes, world is a kind place that runs on the cycle of kindness you get from one you pass it on to the other. DG is living example of that, if it were not for the kindness of strangers she would have been dead. http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/how-to-help-an-abused-2/
          Satisfaction again is a personal things, what satisfies you may not be my definition of satisfaction some set the bar too low for themselves and you can’t help it.
          Peace,
          Desi Girl

        • Caring for others cannot be looked at ‘doing the wrong’ thing when you have the option to either do it or not. Besides, who is the judge of calling such situation right or wrong?

          It would be wrong, if the father had forced this girl to do what she is doing, but the reality is much different – it was her own choice. Assumption of child conditioning or not doing what she really wanted to are invalid here. As what is in front of her is the ‘reality’. In the given reality, what she did was the right thing -as grass on the other side will always look more greener.

        • Caring for others cannot be looked at ‘doing the wrong’ thing when you have the option to either do it or not

          My issue is not with this statement, but with what is left unsaid in this statement.

          I’m not saying that it is wrong to care for someone else at your own expense. I am saying that it is perfectly fine to NOT follow this course of action as well.

          You cannot EXPECT great sacrifices from people, nor should you expect them to martyr themselves for a cause you personally deem worthy.

          If I am drowning in the ocean, I can expect the life-guards to do their jobs in a reasonably competent manner, but I cannot expect them to perform death-defying stunts or sacrifice their own lives just to save me. If they do it, great. If they don’t, they can’t be blamed.
          Not risking your life to save other peoples’ does not make you a bad lifeguard, or even necessarily a less effective one. Similarly, not partaking in acts of self-sacrifice for others does not make you any less of a person, nor does it necessarily mean that you would be less effective at caring for your folks.

          Going to Africa may make you feel like a hero, but a generous donation to Medecins Sans Frontiere from the comfort of your favorite Wi-Fi enabled cafe may actually turn out to save more lives.

          Sacrifice is not the only way, or even always the best way, and people must not be held to it as though it were the only morally justifiable thing to do.

        • “Often I find people, to give up their life-styles to go and help those in Africa, or go help those in areas where natural disasters have befallen, remarkable and no short of being hero’s. I guess, inside them, there is a feeling of satisfaction of doing the right thing”

          http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

          I’m not being judgmental, I’m a wanna-be do-gooder myself, but I’m well aware that part of what’s behind it is the romance of it, the feel-good factor.

          And it’s your personal choice to believe that caring etc is “on a bigger scale” than a career, but it’s good to be aware that your very belief stems out of social conditioning.

        • To girlsguidetosurvival
          I weird how you come to the conclusion that “We cannot judge all those who do not quit their jobs and lives to go helping out”. Of course, the discussion is around those who choose to take time out of their own personal lives to look after someone, to care for them. Never have I said otherwise. It really easy to make up assumption but you need to be accurate in making your point.

          To Praveen
          In relation to your confusing “My issue is not with this statement, but with what is left unsaid in this statement”. How can you be the judge of what is ‘unsaid’ in the statement – isn’t this just dis-information and imagining what the commenter would have said. Jesus, its difficult talking to you when you so easily fly off in a tangent.

          No matter what people say here, in my view – being there for someone else in the time of need is natural to human and is part of humanity. Patriarchy and male dominance doesn’t come anywhere into it no how much some people argue that it does.

      • Completely agree with you PT. I have experienced it numerous times, esp when my ex-MIL would praise other DILs of the family quoting similar examples of their ddication towards their in-laws. She would directly put me down or openly critise me but use this subtle hurtful method.. grrr

    • Would you like to be loved and cared for by someone who considers the love and care bequeathed to you as a sacrifice? Or would you willingly like to be at a stage in life where unknown people care for you as a part of social service? I bet you’d rather prefer to be able to afford a paid nurse for caring, and love of family/friends given willingly.

  9. I don’t know how people treat their children like sh*t and then expect them to forgive them when they are old and helpless. I was driven to commit suicide multiple times, with my mom HANDING ME ropes, knives and stuff. I have NO friends from my childhood as I wasn’t allowed to socialise. People in the neighbourhood thought I was the servant of the house, and were surprised to know I was their daughter.

    And now, when I finally got out of there with the help of my boyfriend- with ACL injury in my knee and not being able to function well in public- my dad wants me to “forget what happened since it happened in the past” and include them in my life.

    And y’know how I treat such people? By giving them the same care they gave me when I was helpless- NOTHING. I won’t stoop to making them kill themselves or beating them black and blue. But, they should know that karma bites one in the ass. People should think ahead before mistreating dependents. Don’t forgive them.

      • Well, having had no social circle and not being out in public except for errands, I am severely socially crippled. I cannot work because I do not function well in public. I was the 10th std topper of my school, among the first 10 students in 12th std, and got through AIEEE into a nationally reputed college (rank 8 after IITs). After graduating, i got 4 job offers and an internship in France.

        I could not join any of them as I wasn’t able to handle the pressure of interacting with people. My boyfriend and now fiance stays with me, takes care to take me out bit by bit, make me comfortable with myself in public. I feel so handicapped by the fact that I get panic attacks in public and can’t cash in on the opportunities I get because of my intelligence. I have to work SO HARD to overcome the damage done.

        I think the girl above should think long term before acting all “good-daughter” to a father who mistreated her. Otherwise, she too is going to regret these missed chances…

        • Do get help, there is a lot of support out there. Things WILL get better – the major step is normally that first break and getting out of a toxic environment. Lots of good vibes to you.

  10. I do feel sad for the writer that she is not able to do all that she had planned on doing because of the situation that she is in, but nowhere in her article does it seem that she is regretting her decision or that she is being forced to decide. She has chosen to keep her plans on hold to look after her father, out of her own will. So if she has that freedom to choose- be it going abroad and making a life or staying home to look after her father- then in my opinion it is perfectly fine.

    • Yes and I would agree, but it seems other commentators here would rather ignore the human(ity) side of this individual and what remarkable choice she has made, when most of us would probably stand on our egos and continue on, heads down.

    • What is there to feel sad about? I don’t understand, many of us had big hopes from life and then one day everything changed due to events and circumstances beyond our control. We all make a choice, if we’ll do the right thing and accept the facts do something about it or keep cribbing about it and change nothing.
      …her father- then in my opinion it is perfectly fine. Fully Agree but not sad.

      DG has problem is with all those people who throw it in your face that so and so did XYZ so you can and should do it too. They never say so and so jumped off the bridge you do it too or do as the son/brother in the previous post did. But they son/brothers can come around and throw it in your face, I could have been as bad as those guys… as if they are doing you a favor by being good.
      Whole system is codependent, self proclaimed martyrs…
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      • Loved your comment Desi Girl and agree with every bit of it. Its so common to hear ” cheat karta hai to kya hua, marta to nahi hai”..”humne tumhare liye itna kiya aur tum aise badtameezi se baat karogi”… etc. etc. emotional blackmail seems to be our favourite pre-occupation.

  11. This I feel is the story of a typical Patriarch…..
    A father who directly decides everything for the daughter using strict verbal rules when he is young and strong…..and indirectly trying to decide everything for her by non verbal ‘commands’ when he is old and sick!
    And the daughter becomes proud of her sacrifice and boasts about it!

      • Conditioning from childhood.
        Even I feel I can make out her subconscious is resenting this choice. This article is an attempt to convince herself.

        • Arun, exactly my thoughts. it seems to be an attempt to convince herself. I am reminded of the many many similar scenarios when I tried to convince my self loudly ( now realise how wrong I was and eat my words). I sincerely hope she never regrets.

        • I agree, OP is seeking validation. It’s very hard in these situations to dismiss the conditioning and see it for what it is : manipulation.

      • BAB,
        CondItioning is always there in the way children are brought up. We are all brought up in a Society which conditions us to believe that Males are superior. We think fathers has to be strict and emotionally detached.
        This girl was brought up with an overdose of duties and responsibilities. Sacrificing fun became a forced habit for her. Only period of freedom of 6 months she got in Seoul was a heavenly experience for her. Back at home seeing her father’s illness she reverted back to her default position of sacrifice.
        This is a good example of how Patriarchy transmits it’s values to next generation.

        • Well, this was her chance to cut her loses and run for her freedom, but then I read the title of this post “Freedom can wait im staying put for dad’ and that explains it all. Staying put for dad – goes beyond the ‘Patriarchy transmission’ you argue for – it’s something called ‘family values’ which in my part of the world means a relationship which is formed out of love for one another – it’s not just about ones freedom over others – otherwise this girl would have gone a long time ago.

        • BAB,
          You can call it any names- love or family values,…..
          But that will not change the fact that this decision of this girl is greatly influenced by the strict control her father had over her throughout the childhood. A girl brought up differently may still take care of the father if there is a real need, but in a different way, with less publicity. A less autocratic father would never allow her daughter’s dreams to be curtailed due to his illness.

    • Arun, some years back I met a younger woman who recounted to me tales of her father-in-law’s autocratic behaviour. After trading some in-law experiences with each other, I tried to console her by saying, “These people will end up needing us one day.” She replied, “But Chechi, wouldn’t our life be over by then? First they rule us and have their way, then in old age when they become helpless, they suddenly need us and we serve them. Again they are having their way, Both ways we are losers and they the winners.” I realised she was right.

      • Spot on, the victims of this system are forced to take care of the very ‘actors’ who made their lives miserable. My simple advice is to get out of the system as soon as you are financially able otherwise you will live to rue it, this blog is a testament to this.

  12. Well,
    This seems okay if it was the daughter’s choice to stay and take care. TOmmorow if I choose to sacrifice going abroad for someone I love, I may be sad but I did it because I value the said person and the time I have left with them than my immediate need to go abroad/be free kinda thing.

    On the other hand, morally indoctrinating us with this asian philosophy of filial piety ( it is a big thing among the chinese I know) and saying that is what every child should do and making us feel guilty and bad if we choose not to is not a good thing.

    When I talk of lack of choice for us women in terms of marriage, education, career, freedom, clothes etc, i am often met with a response of me being selfish and caring only for myself and not caring the humiliation my parents would face if I were to marry someone i chose and them being good women because they stuck to society’s rules. Of that I would not approve.

    Also I do not get why people choose to glorify emotionally unavailable strict men as perfect dads at times

  13. My response would be to show them the movie ‘Eat, drink , man, woman’ by Ang Lee set in Taiwan. The old father of three daughters gets to start a new life with a loving companion once the three daughters fly the nest.
    Facebook shared stories are mostly hypocritical, people are failing their exams and sharing posts like ‘stop putting your parents in old age homes’ . First, be true to what you are doing currently then worry about the world.

    You can’t make anyone happy by ‘sacrifices’ , you either do something out of love or you are expecting something in return( label of good daughter, thankfulness, praise or freedom from guilt) and anytime these expectations are not fulfilled, you will be disillusioned,hurt and angry. And no one likes someone behaving like a martyr for them.

    Lastly, you can’t give to others what you don’t have for yourself. If you aren’t happy, you cannot make anyone else happy.

  14. I think she is doing it out of her free will. In life, these are the choices we make, and our choices must almost never be governed by how others will perceive us or whether we are setting the right example for others. We should do what we believe is right. She is a thinking, responsible individual who has decided to do what she feels is right. Life is not fair, and everyone is not dealt the same cards. Would these discussions take place if she were a boy? Would “his” decisions be then judged differently?

  15. There is this soppy forward that used to make the rounds some time back about an apple tree that took care of a child, gave him tasty apples, shade to rest etc etc. But then the apple tree grew old (like everyone does), by then the boy had grown and moved away. So it is implied that in the apple tree’s old age, the boy who it helped grow was not there to take care of it.
    Stuff and nonsense I say. The apple tree did what it thought was its duty. I asked this question: “Then what do you want the boy to do? Sit idle under the now old apple tree waiting to watch it fall??”
    Of course by the story they mean that youngsters neglect parents. There are a lot of parents who say such things too and shed tears. But if you ask me, children should go where they have to.and do what they want to. That had been parents’ aim when they brought them up right? Now if they WANT to stay back, without any pressure being applied on them, it is their choice. I dislike all these soppy stories that try to invoke guilt in the young for quite natural happenings of life.

    There is a Malayalam saying that says, “Pazhuthila veezhumbol pachila chirikkum” When the dried leaf falls, the green leaf laughs. That is, the young laugh at the old. This used to be repeated by older people (who are hale and hearty, nothing wrong yet) when we were kids for no reason. One such time, (I was in college) I turned around and told one of them, “The truth is, the dried leaves even as they fall taunt the green leaves, ‘you too will fall’ and cackle in glee. They are had their green stage, but are jealous of the next batch of green leaves”. They were taken by surprise by what I said, ;)

    • In the movie ‘Baghban’, the parents (after retirement) were in for a rude shock when they realized that their kids were not comfortable having them around at home. The parents should have made arrangements for their old age rather than depend on their children. If kids do take care of the parents, it should be considered a bonus. Besides there are other ways of care giving than making them a part of their nuclear set up.

      The whole movie was an exercise meant to show the kids in a poor light, and parents as martyrs though they were active and healthy. The message of the movie to the audience was “Don’t be selfish. Your parents made sacrifices for you and now its your turn”.

      Do parents give birth to children with the sole aim of getting old age security? Don’t people have kids for the experience and joy it gives them? Is love and parental care conditional?

  16. So, is feminism now taking form of Ayn Randism? ( just a provoking thought :) , personally I think no good father would agree to her daughter holding back her life for him)

    • I can only guess at what you mean by “Ayn Randism”, but yes, embracing individual rights has always been important within the feminist movement. Collectivist modes of thought are instrumental to propagating patriarchy.

      • PT, I for one am among those who think libertarianism (Objectivism) and perhaps even capitalism as it works in our world are on the opposite end of the political spectrum from feminism. For instance, libertarianism sets itself against taxpayer-funded parental leave or subsidised daycare at the very least, and in some flavors it is even against anti-discrimination laws like equal work for equal pay. Capitalism as it exists in our world is intrinsically patriarchal, too, in that the market does not recognize women’s work as real work worthy of pay – and even when it does, it’s “pink collar” work that is devalued and underpaid (childcare workers, secretaries).

        In an Indian context, I definitely see how the tyrannical ethos of sacrifice-female-for-community is the main barrier to women’s rights. But individual rights don’t lead you to a feminist paradise either – it turns out other patriarchal systems simply rise up to take the place of community. Instead of ONLY saying that women ought to have individual rights too, it’s very necessary to say that people other than just “females” need to share in the sacrifices community demands.

        There is a large faction of mainstream feminism that describes itself as Anarchist, which is very much collectivist. I have not been won over by their economic ideas but there is not a single other branch of feminism that is as comprehensive and MINE as anarchafeminism. It marries the essence of third wave feminism – the ever widening feminist umbrella that encompasses LGBT rights, racism, classism, ableism, fat activists, etc – with anarchism’s bedrock of work on the dynamics of power and consciousness and oppression. I would call myself an anarchafeminist if not for the fact that I am much more the ‘feminist’ than the ‘anarcha’.

        • Nandini,

          Perhaps you should define what you mean by collectivism.

          Modern, mainstream anarchism is not generally considered to be a collectivist movement in the traditional sense. Most anarchists today tend to be strong supporters of individual rights and would certainly not support coerced forms of social organization over alternatives like free association.

          What most left-wing anarchists believe in is a form of Libertarian Socialism, which is against the perceived oppressive influence of the capitalist hegemony, state control and patriarchal social systems on individual rights.

          Libertarianism comes in a huge variety of flavors. Not all forms espouse capitalism or even unregulated free markets. The idea is freedom from coercion, and many Libertarians believe that the capitalist system, like the State, is little more than a tool for coercion and destroys the rights of individuals.

          B,

          That is an indefensible position. Patriarchy has always thrived in vertically collectivist societies.

          An individualist society protects the rights of EVERY individual, including female individuals as well as minority members. A vertically collectivist society protects only the rights of the community, or family unit, leaving individuals free to be exploited.

          You are essentially contrasting perfect collectivism (where everyone carries out their role as they are supposed to) with imperfect individualism. The reality is that neither of these are perfect in practice, and individualistic societies with greater individual liberties have an immeasurably better track record of destroying patriarchy.

        • PT,

          collectivism is an ethos that emphasizes interdependence, community awareness, and collective action (not necessarily forced!). Individualism is an ethos that promotesc self-reliance and independence from community. Both libertarianism and anarchism eschew force and legal compulsion for voluntarism, true. But anarchism not only self-identifies as a collectivist movement but also focuses a lot of its energy on concepts like solidarity and communal living while libertarians are very gung ho about ruggedly going it yourself and good fences making good neighbors. There’s a big difference between the two even though there is some overlap in their principles.

          Libertarian socialists may be quite similar to anarchists, but they’re not what one thinks of when one says “libertarianism”. They’re a very small faction, and most libertarians would say they’re not really libertarians at all, much like most anarchists will tell you anarcho-capitalists (basically libertarians) aren’t anarchists at all. I think we should stick to the common understandings of the two words when we talk about them.

          Anyway, while libertarians do tell me that individual rights will be protected for all under their system, including for minorities, very few among them are analyzing the HOW. They seem to assume that we’ll just change the laws to say “everybody gets rights” and poof, it will happen, and social hegemonies will disappear by themselves. Anarchism on the other hand spends a long time identifying ALL existing systems of oppression (not just governments) and activising against them. To me it seems like they’ve got a route map to get from our reality to that ideal world where oppressions have gone and a simple law saying “all are equal” is sufficient to guarantee that all are indeed treated equal.

        • Nandini,
          I think economic systems per se may not have inbuilt gender bias. Capitalism is patriarchal (but less than feudalism) because it is built on a Patriarchal Society and it always favors the powerful.

        • Nandini,

          That’s not really a standard definition of collectivism. One usually defines it not as a stand-alone philosophy, but in contrast to individualism, as a philosophy that stresses group goals over individual goals. Interdependence isn’t really a feature of collectivism per se; it is related more to socialist modes of thought than anything else. Maybe I am outdated (my university days are far in the past now), but this is what I usually mean when I say “collectivism”.

          Libertarian socialists certainly don’t advocate going it alone. The so-called MYOB (mind your own business) principle that civil Libertarians espouse is not a part of left-wing Libertarianism.
          In fact, there is actually no real distinguishing factor between left anarchism and libertarian socialism and I do believe that the terms are used interchangeably even within academia. Saying that they’re not libertarians, but anarchists is kind of meaningless. It’s a bit like saying that gasoline is not inflammable but flammable – they are two ways of saying precisely the same thing.

          Libertarianism itself isn’t a very tight-knit, well-defined movement. Indeed, most people are hard pressed to define it even in loose terms. Instead of seeing it as a movement with various factions fighting for different things, it is better seen as a sliding scale, with minarchists on one end of the scale, and anarchists proper on the other. There is no “main body” of libertarians; every faction is a very small faction. Most libertarians do agree that government is bad but everyone has a different conception on exactly how much government there should be with very little actual grouping.

        • … I’m quite losing track of what we’re arguing about, lol!

          Re: definitions, wikipedia backs me up, check it out. Re: the rest, I’m not thrilled at all about what seems to be your effort to classify anarchism as “a form of libertarianism”. :P

          This has been an interesting discussion!

      • Patriarchy is about personal ownership, to the extent that women and children become a possession as well. A collectivist society may have its faults, but patriarchy does not stand a chance in it.

      • In a society where collectivism is given importance, some stand only to lose and some to gain. Its obvious who will propagate such a kind of system.

      • I have never been a big fan of Ayn Rand or objectivism, but I do appreciate some of the ideas put forward by her. According to Ayn Rand, everyone has a hierarchy of values and she days it’s okay to sacrifice something of lower value for something or someone you hold up to a higher value, but it’s not okay to do otherwise. For example, you can decide to give up some comforts for the sake of your spouse if your spouse is your highest value. But it’s not okay to put yourself at a disadvantage for someone you don’t value that high, be it a neighbor, friend , family member or a spouse.
        Despite all the social conditioning, I think we all know in the bottom of our hearts what we really want. In the case of this young lady, all of us assuming that she values her job/freedom/career over her dad are just speculating. Same is the case with others defending her decision saying that she values her dad more. Only she knows what’s in her heart and the bottom line is, it’s a sad situation if her choice is not exactly what she wants. If she indeed values being with her dad more than her career , more power to her.

    • How convenient, B! :D You have preemptively decided that no father who does hold back his daughter from her life is “good”, the implication being that only good fathers are worth sacrificing your life for? Nah. Not even good fathers are worth that, in my opinion. And anyway, I’d wager 99% of fathers are bad fathers by your criterion. I know my own father has on many occasions stopped me from making my own choices. And certainly, this woman’s father doesn’t qualify either because he has pressured her all her life to give up her freedom just for his principles!

  17. First of all there is no right or wrong thing as long as one is happy with his/her decision and of course nobody is getting hurt. But the fact that this person has gone to such lengths to write about her decision to stay with her father seems to me that she is trying to convince herself and also seek the goodwill of the society. Each and everybody’s parents have struggled to brng them up [rare exceptions are there of course]. I feel the struggles my mom underwent to bring me and my sister up before and after my father’s death makes her a likely candidate for an award.

    However, if every offspring decides to limit his/ her choice of career and take care of the parent, then personally I feel they are not doing justice to their parents. True, parents want their children to look after them in their old age, but they do not raise the children for that sole purpose. And if they do, they are very very wrong.

    My mom lives all alone in India, I am worried abt her all the time. However, I need to make my own life as well. I make sure she is keping well and has adequate facilites to take care of her in my absence. And also to keep her occupied. My sister does the same. My mom does miss us and as you know the Indian society would not let her be happy even she wanted to. Recently I was amused to hear something from my mom. She went to visit this old lady in an old-age home few weeks ago. This old lady is the mother of a famous Indian actress and is a close family friend. The old lady has a son and a daughter apart from the actress. they are all doing fantasically well in life. However, for some reason none of them could accomodate the mother and she now stays in an old age home. When my mom went to meet her it seems this lady asked my mom- what happended to you? why are u staying alone, cant your daughters take care of you? I was so surprised that this lady could say this to my mom when in such situation. Obvsly this visit made my mom feel a bit low and my sister and I had to assure her that we are there for her.

    Like one of the readers has commented, the kids are conditioned by their parents to look after them and if not feel guilty about it. To avoid this, some of them leave their career options/ academic options and stay close/ with their parents. Which I dont agree to at all.

  18. She’s making the biggest mistake of her life. It sounds like her father has quite a few years left in him still. There is absolutely no need for this woman to stay and care for him right now, and yet, because of lifelong conditioning by society and lifelong control by the father, she is behaving like a caged bird who won’t fly away even when the door is open.

    Her father will only get worse as the years go by, so her chances of flying the cage will decrease exponentially. Probably the only way she will leave if is if she gets married, which in itself shuts down her chances of realizing her dreams of unfettered travel and complete freedom. If she has any kids, forget it, her life is over.

    • I hit “post” too soon.

      Meant to add: STORY OF A WOMAN’S LIFE. Interesting how social and familial forces ALWAYS conspire to make it such that the only “choice” a woman can make is sacrifice of her own self for others.

      • Your comment here makes me think you want people to feel sorry for your view of women in society. Family is a system which is not just a bond of responsibilities but of love and affection – which is what this women demonstrated, she choose to stay despite all the temptations for her not too.

        You talk about sacrifices, well don’t you think the father throughout the up-bringing of the daughters would have gone to similar sacrifices such as security (especially when the children are young), there are sacrifices made by the parents which are oblivious to you – but in reality the parents must have gone through many sacrifices to get the daughters at the level they are at.

      • There are a lot of men as sons who do the same kind of ‘sacrifice’ towards their parents, in fact there are more such men than women. When it comes as a sense of ‘duty’, I question, if its purely out of love, why not?

  19. We all sacrifice to a certain extent, I think what makes it palatable is we decide when to sacrifice, how , what and for what. If it is her choice great, but if she is being idealistic ,will regret it later, she is the one going to pay the price. not anyone else not her dad. so all people around her can do is educate her and let her decide.

    I do personally think that her dad’s situation if it won’t get better may get worse, and maybe now is the best time for her to stack up her career and travels and then in the later stages be around to help – that’s the only thing i would think about.

    If i were her PARENT – i would talk to her about the long time consequences, care needed and being the mom of 2 almost adult boys, i know how precious the time right after graduation is , it’s a timeto open your self o the world , for new experiences and if they were to consider such a sacrifice, I’d rather they go about their life and if needed help me in my later stages when i’m worse. or maybe seek other options for my care. Hopefully i’ll have planned for oldage and sickness .

    • thumbs up especially for the last para ! what wisdom! and where do I get some like this.
      A good parent would have done exactly what you said.

  20. Culturally enforced filial obligation towards parents by grown children does not necessarily constitute morality and any such instances of ordinary decent human behavior should not be paraded as exemplary behavior that all children must necessarily emulate. If the parent’s earlier sacrifices, love and affection has created a deep bond between the child and the parent, then naturally the child will act decently and humanely at the time of the parent’s need.

    But the eastern concept of filial obligation stems mainly from indebtedness rather than friendship or love. What we forget is that parents are not doing the children a favor by bringing them to this world, or providing food, clothing, shelter or education. You create a life, you take care of it – it’s as simple as that. These are not favors or investments which can and should be extracted with interest at a later date.

    Almost all such articles convey a sense that it is the divine right of the parent to be taken care of at the expense of the child’s life merely because – this is my personal favorite – the child was carried 9 months in the womb, or any of the x y z parental duties which they performed.

    Choosing an option which “benefits only you” is heavily punished in all Asian societies. Why is caring for oneself so bad? Why should leading your own life not give you a feeling of doing the right thing? The society is so heavy-handed with punishments for those whom they perceive as selfish, while at the same time positively reinforcing self-sacrificing behaviors which will most likely lead to a less-than-satisfactory and resentful life when you get older.

    You then tend to impose the same strict moral code on your children, denying them the right of choosing their own life and this vicious cycle continues.

    • But the eastern concept of filial obligation stems mainly from indebtedness rather than friendship or love. What we forget is that parents are not doing the children a favor by bringing them to this world, or providing food, clothing, shelter or education. You create a life, you take care of it – it’s as simple as that. These are not favors or investments which can and should be extracted with interest at a later date.

      Precisely.

      Parents don’t do their kids a favor by raising them as well as they can. They are legally and morally obligated to do it, it’s part and parcel of bringing life into the world. It is unacceptable for a parent to NOT raise their kids properly.

      The concept of filial obligation always reminds me of that Simpsons episode, where Homer calls up Jerry and says:

      “Remember last month when I paid back that loan? Well now I need YOU to do a favor for ME.”

      • Where does the ‘morally obligated’ end? Does this not condition the child – as so many of you ladies are against condition of child at young age. The words such as love, compassion, family don’t really go down well in your views, so does one sustain a relationship with their children? The society may ‘morally obligated’ you to raise your child, but since you ladies believe this society is male dominated – why doesn’t parents sell off their children – if they do then is it frowned upon this practice as negative.

        I feel there many of you contradict yourself on this blog, as each comment differs from one post to another – and for me its hard to keep up with so many contradictions. I think I am in the wrong place on this blog.

        • I agree in part with you, mr british asian. ;) There are many contradicting philosophies that you will find among commenters (me included probably) and I think it’s fine to contradict yourself as long as you’re aware of it, or else it’s just hypocrisy. It takes a long time to establish one’s beliefs and even then they are often susceptible to change.

          I’m in favor of what this girl did, whether it’s a true story or made up, and I think that all these statements saying that children don’t owe anything to their parents are rather harsh and seem to reject reality. It does have a ‘Randian’ tone to it, as another commenter noted, and smacks of Objectivism, that utterly flawed philosophy which preaches selfishness.

          Instead of debating children’s duties to parents, we should probably be debating the choices of an individual. Every person always has at least 2 choices, even when it appears that there are none, the other choice is usually the hardest. For example, if someone commits suicide after a lot of suffering, people say, he or she had no choice. Well actually there was a choice to live, they just didn’t see it. (Hope some of this makes sense. :) )

        • er… “you ladies?” Really?

          These are the kind of false values that really irk me about those who preach how wonderful our duty-bound, self-abnegating culture is.

          The words such as love, compassion, family don’t really go down well in your views
          This is a very enlightening view, the implication being that people who argue for individual rights are unable to love, feel compassion or take care of a family. Unfortunately, this is the view that many people hold.

          The society may ‘morally obligated’ you to raise your child, but since you ladies believe this society is male dominated – why doesn’t parents sell off their children
          I am very curious to know what this really means. Does this mean that parents raise their children only because society tells them to? Or that people are all delusional when they think that the world today is male-dominated? Or that people would willingly sell their children if society had not strictly prohibited them from doing so?

        • I’m a “lady” now?

          Society isn’t morally obligated to raise my kids. *I* am.

          Your point about selling children doesn’t even make sense. Where did that come from?

        • PGW,

          Some choices can be hard enough, or at least seem hard enough, so as to be essentially meaningless.

          When people say, “I had no choice”, they don’t literally mean that in an absolute sense. What they usually mean is that there were no other effective choices they could realistically pursue, without adverse consequences which would outweigh the benefits of pursuing that choice.

          For example, I don’t like the overly long check-in procedures at Indian airports. I travel frequently for work-related reasons, and these procedures waste a lot of my time, but I have no choice except to submit. Technically, I could hatch a plan to get on the plane illegally – strictly speaking, that is a choice. However, such a plan is unlikely to succeed and even if it does, it is not worth the risk and bother. Such a choice is illusionary, it does not truly exist for me.

          There are also situations where personal perceptions are aligned in a way that many choices practically cease to exist.

          Revolutionaries are a good example of this (they see violent change as the only way out), as are many mothers in bad marriages (they are too afraid of harming their children by leaving their marriages).

          The fact that the perceptions may not be realistic does not matter at all. What matters is that THEY see the world that way, and act accordingly.

          Please do explain why you think it is rejecting reality to state that children don’t owe their parents anything. Do you really think it is rejecting reality, or do you just find the concept morally repugnant? I ask because it usually tends to be the latter, which is fine, as long as one is clear that it is opinions being dealt with, not facts.

        • //”The society may ‘morally obligated’ you to raise your child, but since you ladies believe this society is male dominated – why doesn’t parents sell off their children”//
          What exactly does this mean? I really don’t understand why if “ladies” believe this society is male-dominated, parents should sell of children. What is the connection?
          BTW it is not just ladies’ belief that this society is ‘male-dominated’. It happens to be true.

  21. Well, she seems determined to make a martyr of herself, not that there is anything wrong with martyrdom coming from a free will. First she is under the rule of a strict father, who decides what path she will choose, then the father’s health will choose what path she will take. Some days I have to take my hat off to Asian parents. They have figured out a way to completely dominate their children’s lives using the perfect combination of fear and love.

  22. All of us have different reasons, different backgrounds, different upbringings that shape us, and our decisions. While we cannot term a particular thought process as right, any particular decision or thought process cannot be wrong if it is made by the individual by thinking clearly. Similarly, in this example, it looks like this girl has thought about the whole thing quite clearly. She obviously has a choice to either stay or to go, and she is choosing to stay after much debate in her mind. So I think it is perfectly fine! On second thought, I dont think I am even in a position to say if it was the right decision. If this decision works for her, her conscience, her life, it is the right decision!
    However, what she is doing, is not the ONLY good thing one can do for the parents. Hence, such articles I feel do sensationalize that sacrifice is great and is the best thing one can do for anyone. Whether I would have done the same thing in her situation? Not for my father, but for my mom I can really do anything! She has never bound us by telling us we ought to do particular things for her, but its just that I feel like taking care of her in her old age. Even though I do not stay close to her now, she says it quite often how much I am of a support to her-just by being there for her everyday in her life, on the phone, skype, chats. I mean I know more of her schedule staying across continents than my sister who stays with her! Both of us sisters help her out in our own ways.

  23. Ok. I applaud the daughter for deciding to stay back. A very difficult decision indeed. I doubt if I would have taken it myself. I value my freedom too much. This is very common in our part of the world, just that noone puts it out there this openly and so clearly worded.

    There is no right or wrong here. To each his own solution. She has done something quite a few of us would have done without a second thought, she has worded it better than most of us and she probably is taking care of the father in ways most of us havent even thought of, let her be. Theres actually nothing to discuss. Its her life, that was her rant. She has to find her own peace.

  24. ‘Freedom can wait’? Are you telling me this person is happy with her choice? When one looks at being with her parents as losing her freedom, I find it hard to believe it isn’t a ‘sacrifice’. There are ways to be there for your parents without physically being there. I can spin it around the other way as well: ‘it is my duty to fulfil my potential because that is what my parents have worked for!’

    I think people make this choice everyday in all parts of the world very quietly. And go through life doing it too. To me, that would seem like true choice – when one just does and doesn’t feel like they have given up/sacrificed/compromised, et al.

    It is difficult to make a true choice when all around people are held up as good and bad based on their decisions. It is then ingrained in the person to the extent that wanting to do something different (from taking care of parents/XYZ decision against societal approval) causes enough guilt to overcome free choice.

    Maybe her father/parents would even prefer a setting with other elders, maybe they would want a different life to what their kids are offering? They have only one life too and they seem to be done with their ‘responsibilities’ in educating their children and giving them their wings!

  25. I have not read the other replies, but hey, I would do it for my dad too. I have the ‘freedom’ to make my own choices. And I would drop everything to look after my dad and my family. It is nothing but ‘love’.

  26. I feel for her, but I do admire her decision. I would have made the same decision if the need arose, I think. I don’t agree with the “the children didn’t ask to be born so they shouldn’t have to do this” theory. In this case her father, though a tough disciplinarian, did provide her a good upbringing and took good care of her. She does not mention her mother so don’t know what that situation is. Like you I did wonder where her mother is. I also wonder why won’t her sisters share in the caretaking responsibilities. Maybe she is the eldest.

    When I put myself on the other side of this situation – that of her father – and think about what I would want my daughters to do if something like this happened to me, I am very certain that I would NOT want them to make such sacrifices for me. But I do also hope that they would not just “drop” me and run because they believe they deserve and want their freedom. So, I am making sure I save enough for my retirement and any such eventuality. At the same time I hope I am teaching my daughters the right values of loyalty, family and responsibility. These decisions are not easy, never made in a vacuum and can differ from person to person and situation to situation. What I am really hoping for is that if I am ever in a situation that the author’s father is in – unable to take care of myself, I would have enough money saved to enable my daughters to put me in a retirement home where I am taken care of, and for them to be able to lead their own lives but still either be around me or come to visit me.

    IHM, I feel that many times in our lives we get in a situation where we have to make a decision that we may not want – it is part of being an “adult”. There are a few responsibilities you have to carry, whether you like it or not. This could be one of those for her.

    • Loved this reply! While I totally agree with you on this “At the same time I hope I am teaching my daughters the right values of loyalty, family and responsibility” I can see a whole bunch of people pouncing on this saying this is conditioning! Like you, while I would never want my daughter to sacrifice her dreams for me but I wouldnt like to be just swept away under the carpet because she thought she didnt owe me anything!

      I cant believe one simple article has generated so many responses!

      • Thanks Sonia :)

        Yeah, some might term the way I am raising my daughters as conditioning, but aren’t we all conditioned one way or the other? :)

        I believe that the best thing a parent can do for his/her children is to give them a debt-free start in life when they go out on their own, not load their own debts on the children. And the best thing the children can do for their parents is to be there in the parents’ old age. Not to “serve” them, but just to be a part of their lives.

    • I don’t believe in the “children don’t owe anything to parents” theory either. This becomes a huge problem if parents start manipulating, emotionally blackmailing, inducing guilt into the child deliberately in order to break down their spirit so they remain close & be the parents minions forever. If parents do this then children don’t owe them anything.

      Children owe their parents respect, not their lives. Life without freedom is a live
      wasted.

  27. It doesn’t seem like this choice is entirely of her own volition – when I studied advertising, we studied this principle that said that every decision we make, somebody or something is pulling the strings, influencing our decisions. I think that’s what has happened here. I also do not like the idea of this being held up as some sort of exemplar of a dutiful daughter, and that all daughters should aspire to it. It’s sort of like the servile daughters-in-law/wives they portray on TV. It’s unfair to measure all daughters by this one’s actions. Honestly, part of me feels sorry for her because it seems like she sees it as something she HAS to do, or feels duty-bound to, as opposed to a free choice.

  28. To all those who said that they would do the same for their parents, my question is what would you do if you were married and sacrificing involved sacrificing your spouse’s dreams and freedom? Would you still stay back or would you go away? And what if your spouse does not want to sacrifice?

    • The answer is simple. If you are a daughter, you must stay unmarried if you want to sacrifice your life for your parents.
      If you are a son, you are entitled to sacrifice the life of your wife and kids for the sake of your parents. That’s how it is usually done :D.

    • As I said in my comment earlier, these decisions are not “one size fits all”. Each decision is made based on the need, the constraints, the requirements etc. If I were in the situation you described, maybe my husband and I would decide that I’d stay with my parents for as long as it is necessary to get them good, long term care while he goes off to pursue his “dreams” (or just to his job which would be necessary for us to pay for my parents’ care). As soon as I get good care in place, I join my husband and visit my parents every so often to meet them and to supervise the care they are getting. That’s one viable option, right? The other option would be to have my parents move in with us, where ever we are. The third option would be that my brother and I share these responsibilities. The fourth option would be for my brother and his wife to do what I described in the first option. But knowing my parents, the option they would choose would be to hire full time help, staying where they are and have none of the “sacrifice” stuff. As I said, no one-size-fits-all decisions exist.

  29. Quick question to the ones who said children dont owe their parents anything ..suppose the situation had been different. had it been a spouse-say the woman who was sick and if it meant her husband couldnt pursue his dream of going away to…. say Harvard..and if he stayed home and gave up on that dream..what would the reaction be?
    a) Is he obligated to forgo his dreams for his spouse?
    b)He owes nothing to his spouse..so can he just go ahead and pursue his dream?
    Again this hypothetical situation assumes that the wife hasnt asked him to stay home to take care of her.
    Thoughts? Comments?

    • A spousal relationship cannot be compared to a filial one.

      Unlike a parent-child relationship, a marriage can be dissolved if expectations are not met. The protagonists in a marriage are always free to find other partners if they are not happy with their current ones (at least in theory) and also unlike a parent-child relationship, people are free to thresh out their own mutually acceptable terms and conditions in the marriage.

      A husband is not really “obligated” to do anything special for his wife, apart from respecting her legal rights, but the wife is not obligated to stay in the relationship either. If things don’t work out, and if the expectations are not met, the relationship can be dissolved.

      He can go ahead and pursue his dreams if he so wishes.

      In most peoples’ eyes, this would certainly make him a less-than-ideal husband and not a very good person, but he’s theoretically free to do it, as long as he understands that that his wife has similar freedoms as him.

      • The way I see it, the girl also has the complete choice not to support her dad but she does so out of her free will just like the man in my story can chose to stay with his wife! Infact a marriage can be dissolved if expectations are unmet whereas in this case the girl doesnt even have to bother about dissolving the relationship. She could have chosen a different option and wouldnt even have been answerable to anyone.
        “In most peoples’ eyes, this would certainly make him a less-than-ideal husband and not a very good person, but he’s theoretically free to do it,” Isnt this exactly the girls situation too?

        • “In most peoples’ eyes, this would certainly make him a less-than-ideal husband and not a very good person, but he’s theoretically free to do it,” Isnt this exactly the girls situation too?

          Of course.

          The difference being that in my personal opinion, the husband would be a bad husband if he left his wife, but the daughter would not be a bad daughter if she left her father.

          The difference is not in the actual choices they have, but in the extent that their choices can be morally justified.

        • The girl will not become a bad daughter if she left because, unlike a spousal relationship where adults willingly enter into a committed relationship (which is more a contract really), a parent-child relationship is not created with the knowledge or permission of the child.

          The responsibility and duty of child-rearing rests solely with the parent, not vice-versa. They must also have enough common sense, love and ability to let the child go when she grows up. This includes planning for a retirement fund, cultivating outside interests, getting a life of their own, hiring help etc. rather than place the burden of their happiness on the child’s shoulders.

  30. I fail to understand,( being an Indian daughter and much like in similar circumstances .. quit everything else, study science, become a Doctor or Engineer) why some people are finding it difficult to digest? Freedom and Responsibility were always connected but you do not see it when you are younger, you only realize when you get older. How many of us could have partied till 3 AM when we were teenagers and still had energy next day? Now, when we are well in adulthood, raising our own children, who has energy to party till even 1 AM? Actually couple years ago, I, who was a stubborn daughter and had much more freedom than any other girl in our joint family, acknowledged and told my parents — Now I understand most things much better, from simple things — don’t make lots of noise when my dad or uncles came home late in the evening — because we were 8 kids in the joint family — to complicated things — be home by 10 PM and do not drive very fast. I was brilliant in school and had lots of scholarship money to spend and I was often out with my friends, mostly guys till late night — because I did not understand the dangers at that time .. I thought they were restricting me while they were protecting me… I am much more open with my kids and communicate about the rules .. so they agree. But we were told and suppsoed to follow the rules. I came to US and studied very hard .. and then years after working I decided to quit the job to raise the children .. my choice and my sacrifice, for me they are worth everything and money and freedom is nothing compared to the joy and satisfaction. My parents are with me almost 3 months in a year and we travel. My father is also aging and his health is not as good, but I will LIKE to spend time with him .. and my mom, even though they were not loving sort of parents when I was growing up. But now when I am older, I can understand that they still wanted the very best for the children, and yes, they made the mistake but they did not want to hurt us. Everyone of us have choices, and we decide what is more important for us .. money, our dreams and ambitions, our family. Our views of freedom and responsibility also change. Once in my life, I wanted to have a big house .. now I have a big house and I can’t wait to sell it and move it to smaller house when my kids leave for college as it is such a hassle to keep such big house and yard. I know many many of my friends who longed for different things when they were young, and now they all feel for many things that “Only if I knew it then” .
    So if this girl (or boy) is making the choice for herself to stay with her dad .. good for her. She is also learning to think beyond herself and understand what family is all about.

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