An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

Patriarchy empowers Parents of Sons, but it controls (not empowers) those Sons (or younger men).

Whether young Indian men are raised like spoiled princes or as obedient Shravan Kumars – they are traditionally valued for being Budhape ka Sahara who provide care givers and dowry for their parents’ old age. That’s our ‘family system’.

Most of Indian culture seems to be about ensuring that young Indians do not choose their own partners because we believe that Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

Isn’t that why we claim it’s our culture/tradition/values to control the personal lives and choices of young Indian adults?

Sharing an email.

Hi,

I have been reading your blog for the past few days. I especially liked your posts on the conflict between modern and the orthodox India, and the problems that arise as a result of it. When reading your post “How i spent 4 years in this hell-hole” about the horrors faced at college, I felt as if I was reading a story of my own life…

I am a 18 year old male, from a traditional (read: backward) Indian family. Just to give you an idea, love marriages are considered taboo, and any sort of interaction with members of the opposite sex is frowned upon. You may not believe me but I’ve had instances where I was having a conversation on a mobile phone, suddenly my father walks up to me and demands that I put my phone on loudspeaker mode so that he can listen to the conversation. When I refused, he put his ear to my cellphone’s earpiece trying to eavesdrop.
Enraged, I disconnected the call and told him that he was intruding upon my privacy. This enraged him and he told me that I was getting spoiled and was falling into bad company. Actually there was nothing of that sort, I was just talking to a female friend (mind you, she wasn’t my girlfriend). But I knew that if this was discovered, there would be uproar in my home and my father could even call that girl and tell her not to talk to me after that, he could even have asked to talk to her parents. I didn’t want her to embarrassed because of me, that’s why stopped talking to her, except on Facebook.

Basically, my parents are control freaks. They want each and every aspect of their kids’ (yes, they consider us kids, even my elder brother who is 23 years old and is a banker) lives to be controlled. I have no life of my own. I have never been to a movie. I don’t know what a mall looks like (from inside), I haven’t ever partied with a group of my friends. I can’t even work at my PC for half an hour without someone coming in and standing behind me to see what I am doing.

I don’t know what to do. I have no social life. No girlfriend. No friends. I feel lonely sometimes.
Sorry about the rant. Just felt like telling someone thats all. :)
Any advice for me how to deal with this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:

How illegal bans on Valentine’s day and birthday parties are connected with dowry deaths and sex selection.
Boys and girls holding hands.
Don’t fall in love NOW!
Boys!
Girls!
Girls these days.
“Wonder how I survived for 4 years in this college!!”

89 thoughts on “An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

  1. So very true. Most of our Indian households are like that. Parents believe that since they have given birth to a child, they own his/her life. Every decision ought to be theirs. And this does not happen only in rural India, rather it’s more visible in urban India, the cities. The phone episode in the email is very common. One of my cousins was not allowed to eat anything from his friend’s place. He was forced to throw up. I believe by putting up such acts, these parents are loosing out on the little respect they might get on account of giving birth. I can’t see any harm in being friends with the kids. Rather it helps them open up to you and they share the happenings in their life which helps us get their confidence and as a result be more aware of their surroundings n circle. A strong bond between parents and students is a must.

  2. I dunno. We had a rather independent upbringing. Both of us brothers, our mom had a hell of time managing us, but we were never discouraged from pursuing our dreams. Night outs were frequent…But that did not turn us (hopefully) into bad people.

  3. My mom never let me feel that way… but as for the guy… I guess there is only one thing I could tell him… revolt and keep revolting and fighting till they understand ! Do not give up… Sometimes we have to teach our parents too !

    • Although I agree that his parents are wrong in their actions and they actually need to give him freedom but I don’t think that revolting and fighting will be the right approach. I believe that parents are well wishers but in this case their way of expressing their concern is totally wrong. I think that the right approach for him and his brother would be to gather courage and convince their parents in a logical manner that they need to change their mindset with time and if they find it difficult do this on their own, then they can surely take the help of a relative or a friend of their parent’s age who can them realize their mistake and it would really be great if the parents can be convinced to have a session with a counselor. My son is 17 years old and I went to meet his counselor in school and the only thing that I wanted to ask her was how to be a better mom.

      • I don’t mean to say that he and his brother should never revolt but what’s the harm in making an attempt that might improve the situation before opting for the anger route?

      • I do not mean revolt in the sense fight… I meant state what is correct and ask for a little more privacy… Ask for space and also make his parent understand. He is 18 and he must get it and if he has to be adamant about it till his parents understand so be it..

      • With parents as described, the only feasible solution for the email writer, is for him to move out and live on his own, preferably in another city, and keep his parents at whatever distance he needs for him to feel comfortable in his life.

        Of course, for this he first needs to complete his education and gain economic independence.

        • I don’t necessarily agree that moving out is the only or even a practical solution for the writer at this point. I agree with the previous comments – he needs to voice his concerns, and try to make his parents understand why he is objecting to their controlling ways. And maybe, if that really doesn’t work out, and his parents are so set in their ways that they do no respond to rational conversation, he may want to think about more serious steps, such as moving out.

    • Some people are hard to please, no matter how hard one tries. So it is better not to try. Instead start doing things which are in your own interest as soon as possible. Parents will have to get used to this. The more one obeys the unreasonable demands put on them, the more will be the expectations.
      Appeasing never helps.

  4. Sorry to hear about the problems you are having. I can understand how frustrating it must be a young person to have no freedom whatsoever. My only suggestion to you would be to study well, get a good job in a different city and move out. It is important that you put some distance between yourself and your family so you can breathe. I shudder to think what would happen to the girls you boys get married to,

    Please remember after 18 years you are an adult and have the legal right to your freedom. However it may not be possible if you are under your parents roof. So education and a good job is your way to freedom. Best of luck.

    • Agree. If advice is what you want, I’d say : Study hard and pick a good college FAR away.
      Going to college away from home has traditionally been the route of choice for young Indians to gain their space and freedom. Staying on your own at this age also teaches you a lot about who you are, and gives you the confidence to stand up for yourself. Use the distance to simeltaneously re-negotiate and repair your relationship with your parents.

      One more thing- at this stage it’s important to pick a career that you actually want-take your parent’s advice (after all they want the easiest route to success for you) but don’t let them dictate terms. Alternatively, go along with getting a degree in something ‘secure’, but start work on what you want as soon as you can.

  5. Honestly, I don’t know if anything will work with your parents. Especially when you are financially dependent on them. But definitely the wrong way to do it would be to have a fighting match. Try and explain your point of view in a calm, assertive manner. Try and rope in your brother to see if he can help you (and himself) out with this talk.

    Maybe these lines from Prophet by Gibran will influence your parents:

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    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.

      • Lovely poem! I wish every parent read this the day their child is born, or even when the child is in the womb. When a parent has this attitude toward one’s child, he/she becomes this amazing creature waiting to be discovered. Parenting becomes a joyful adventure. Your child will grow up to your best friend. Different from you perhaps, but still your best friend.

  6. This post was funny, yet tragic. This scenario is not uncommon. Even boys in our culture do not have it good. They have a heavy burden to bear right from choosing the career their parents want, to choosing their bride or deciding to marry or not. Every step taken is monitored and managed by the elders of the family. Only death can free the Indian from the shackles of our culture.

  7. As long as you are not being home schooled or physically restrained, you should have ample chances to do exactly what you want. It’s your own mental hurdles you have to cross. You can miss a day of college or school and do whatever you want to.

    • I agree it is the mental hurdles once has to cross. I was bullied in school from std 3-std 10, my mother used to put me down, both my parents emotionally abandoned me after I was molested by an uncle, always alone on the first day of college/work/any other group, academically shunned by institutes etc. Today I am working my way into becoming a photographer, overcame extreme social disconnect, inferiority complex is passé, married the man I love who has a hard past, love my life. Still rejected by my mother and now MIL. It does not matter. I am not here to impress them. I have a life to live. I chose harmony and mental well being.

  8. Eh… this sounds just like my parents and my upbringing. :) It wasn’t much different for my brother. Though he had comparatively more freedom than me , talking to girls , going out late, staying over with friends, dating was taboo for him too.
    But this types of experiences are invaluable. It lays the foundation for learning about different types of people, how to deal with them. how to manage relationships and overall be a socially well rounded person. You also make the the best of friends then!

    I don’t what the “correct way” is. Initially i asked to go out here and there… I reasoned and coaxed. When that didn’t work. I rebelled , fought, manipulated, threatened, argued, lied, deceived. I made sure I went to a college away from my parents house, so I could live in the hostel and with friends. Getting a job was what truly made me independent though. After that there was no looking back.

  9. Same old story.
    Dear Sir,
    All you have to do is to get a nice job away from your home – in another city, in another country. Live your life independently. It will be rejuvenating after what you have been living through. I choked just reading it.
    But just don’t leave. Before that talk to your parents. Sit with them and tell them why you are leaving. Don’t fight. Just talk. Do not expect them to change. They are too old for that now.
    Also, after you settle in your new life, make a promise to yourself – That your children will have the freedom to choose. That will be the day when you will become a change, something this country needs desperately.

    • Amit, I don’t think anyone is ever too old to change. How old can parents of an 18 year old (and a 23 year old) be, after all? They might not change, of course, that’s a different thing. But age has less to do with it. People of every age have the capacity to change.

      • Shail, you are right. The irony is that parents who are ready to change are already sensible enough to understand the notion and don’t treat their children like this. They way this guy’s parents treat their children, I have great doubts that they will be willing to co-operate.

  10. All I can suggest is what I did. But my situation was slightly different.

    I grew up in a small town in Haryana, Jat family, very conservative. I had chaperons when I stepped out of the house and proposals for marriage started arriving when I turned 16. Boys didn’t exist and if there were strange beings that might have been boys-one-was-not-related-to, one certainly didn’t talk to them.

    My advantages were two brilliant, sensible, loving parents. The extended family was right out of the book of stereotypes though. Don’t talk to boys, don’t talk on phone, why do you want privacy, what do you have to hide etc etc. And each time someone said something stupid, I took them on. If they objected to the fact that I wanted my suitcase/diary/room to be private, I’d make a big fuss about how they are insulting me by casting aspersions on my character. I’d invite them to have a look see and then insist on an apology when they found nothing incriminating and then would warn them against such attempts to malign my honour and dignity. A lot of emo dialogues on how it hurts when those who are supposed to be my family elders/cousins (and thus the people I ought to be able to depend upon) trust me so little and spread canards about me.

    They soon learned to leave me alone and I had space to be myself.

  11. Focus focus focus…study really well but before that do a research of what you should study that would help you have a successful career away from your city. You need to be patient for next few years as that can make or break your life. This kind of nagging atmosphere can really put you down but you have to be strong and work towards your goal of financial independence which will take a few more years. That’s the only way out. Do no waste your time and energy fighting, explaining, changing your parents. Once you are economically independent then sit down for a talk with your parents. Explain your point of view. But never make the mistake of staying in the same city. Some distance is needed. Never let your get emotional blackmailed. This is your life…make the most of it. Do promise yourself you will not repeat your parents’ attitude with your children.

  12. You have lived a tough life, and I’m really sorry for you. It’s hard, I admit, to feel sorry for you when every other girl lives this life in India; but it’s wrong all the same. If you have parents like me, they will ignore whatever sense you try to talk into them. If so, then do what I did. Get a job/ study course away from home. Tell them clearly that you are being stifled. You have no social life; you are becoming depressed and suicidal. If they still don’t listen, wash dirty linen in public. Tell your neighbours and acquaintances how backward your parents are. Believe me, you need not feel guilty about it. They deserve it. Maybe they’ll respond better to social pressure than to their son’s own sadness.

  13. This is so sad to read. Once as teenager, I was writing to a friend (a girl) from my old school (I had just moved to a new school on account of my father’s transfer), My mother wanted to read the letter. I refused. Not that there was anything incriminating, it was the invasion of privacy that I resented. When she insisted, I tore the letter into bits and smiled triumphantly.
    I don’t buy the idea (like someone has said in a comment above) that parents are well wishers and the only problem is their approach is wrong. Not all parents are well wishers.Many are downright selfish and want ONLY their way. The society matters more than the welfare of children for some others. For still others it is a goddamn ego battle, they think ONLY their approach is right.
    Like Hitchy says sometimes children too have things to teach parents. If the parents accept and learn, it is good for the family as a whole. if not the resentment is not going to make things hunky dory ever.
    The letter writer has the option of braving it out and then moving away to peace ad freedom once the time comes. Somehow I don’t think sitting down and talking is going to work here. But of course, one can always try anything. If it works well and good.

    • I could sooo relate to this. Being the youngest in the family, my mom and even my eldest sister had this thing of reading my letters, diary etc. I didnt realise they were doing this. I thought they were psychic :D. Once I was feeling so resentful (about something silly like not letting me wear something i wanted to) n bitter that I really ‘bitched’ about my family to my diary (since i couldnt share these things with my friends- washin dirty linen in public and all).
      I guess they read and they were shocked. Confronted me. But this proved to be a blessing in disguise because I could convince them to giv me some space.
      I could also convince them to stop goin through personal stuffs. though they were like ‘waht secrets can an 11 year old have’
      After that I jus made sure to lock my personal stuffs.
      Now when I go home, I smile to see to see unopened letters for me on my table.

      • I was shocked to hear some mothers say they go through their children’s school bags, children here refers to +2 students. I consider that a gross violation of privacy. Especially since I have faced this ‘letter/diary reading’ phase in my own life, I made sure my children were given the respect due to them. Unlike you, till the time I left home at 23, all my letters were opened as a matter of course. No amount of rebelling against it changed that. :(

        • Whatever else the parents may do right or wrong, trust clearly is lacking in such cases. By insisting that they read your letters, they where saying in clear words: “We don’t think you can be trusted”. The logical thing for the child to do in response, is to stop trusting the parents, and instead hide as well as possible in order to have -some- privacy.

          Why are conservatives so scared of trusting their children ? What horrible thing would you have done, if afforded a little privacy ? (my guess: nothing, you’re a decent person and would have behaved decently even with complete privacy)

        • @Agrajag, Yes, distrust was the default settings on their part and I became distrustful of them too.
          If I were trusted, maybe I would have shared willingly. But their nature made me extra secretive and also extra possessive about what was/is mine that I stopped sharing anything at all.

      • “Matru devo bhava, Pitra devo bhava, Acharya devo bhava and Atithi devo bhava” are legacies handed down to the masses. No questions allowed. No answers given.

  14. I would say you are among the sensible few who identify and realize the problem in the first place and want to fix it – compared to a lot of others who just fall in line to become obedient children.

    Plainly speaking – you are just going to have to fight it out. Its your life and your freedom. So YOU have to fight it out.

  15. What’s with some many thumbs down on all comments which seem to be sensible enough. Would the thumbs downer explain his point of view instead?

  16. My advice to you would be the same given to the many women who have written to IHM, detailing the problems they have in their family and/or marriage.

    Your problem has two parts. One is that your parents try to control your life to an unreasonable degree, you describe this part well in your letter. The other part, is that because you’re dependant on them, it is difficult for you to escape from this control, or to reject their attempts at invading your privacy.

    Work on improving your independence. Finish your education. Get a job with a steady income. Get a place of your own to live – preferably one with a little bit of distance to your parents. If you can manage this, then the rest of the problem will solve itself. With a place of your own, and without dependence on them, you will have the privacy and the autonomy that you desire. Sure, they may not *like* it, but they’ll no longer be in a position to impose their will on you.

    What they are doing is abusive. And ideally you should stand up for yourself and refuse to let the abuse continue. The problem is that as long as you live in their house, and perhaps also otherwise are dependant on their resources, that it’s basically impossible for you to be seen as an independent adult by them.

    In the meantime, I think you’re entirely justified in lying to them or hiding things from them. Sure it’d be preferable if you could simply say the truth, but they brought it upon themselves with their obnoxious and abusive behaviour. If you can’t talk to a female friend (or girlfriend!) in peace *with* their knowledge, you’ll just have to do it *without* their knowledge.

    • Well said and I would second all of this.

      Only one thing to add, please don’t allow people to make you feel guilty if you want to move away for college or work. It does not mean you are rejecting your parents and ‘leaving them’, simply means you are trying to find your way in life. You will probably in a better position to support them in the future if you aren’t stifled under their shadow.

      In many Indian families the suggestion of moving away can lead to some charged emotional situations. You might find your mum crying and your dad upset and so on. Please remember that you are not being disrespectful to them by simply trying to live your own life. Only you are responsible for how your life ends up, not your parents. You might feel that it’s noble to make ‘sacrifices’ for them, but if the sacrifices lead to an unsuccessful/ unhappy life, it was still be your choice and you will only have yourself to blame.

      From what I have seen, it often takes some distance for parents to be able to see their children as independent grown ups. It’s a bit of tough love that will lead to better relationships and more happiness for everyone.

      • In a family different children get different treatment. Reason is because one is more of a rebel and the other is the obedient one. Its obvious on whom the expectations will fall on.

  17. College. College is the answer. Go to a college somewhere far away and find your own life there. Your parents won’t be able to control you there:well, not so much, anyway.

    • Job, not college is the answer. Since parents can exert just as much control in college its called “compy or defame” or “comply or we stop paying your fees!”

  18. Hi guys. I am one whose mail you all have read over here. And i must say really sound advice, especially the one about becoming independent. I would’ve been independent, had i studied hard the last year and gotten into some college along with finishing school. But i didn’t and now as i sit at home preparing for another attempt, the situation only gets worse.

    I hope this time i can get into a good engineering college and gain my freedom. Cheers guys for your replies, and tonnes of thanks to IHM for her swift response. I mean i sent this mail at aroung 12:30 last night and look at first comment appeared at 10:27 am. Only if our country’s police forces were as swift as you.. :D

    BTW, you’ve just won yourself a new follower and admirer. Keep up the good work..!

    • Study hard, focus on your aim and ignore the other issues for now. Every time you feel annoyed, just tell yourself to put it on hold. ;)

      Good luck.

        • IHM, I think the ‘email’ posts are fantastic and are essentially what sets your blog apart – the USP, really.
          A lot of times it can feel like being on the internet is ‘armchair activism’, but your blog proves that wrong.

      • I agree that the email posts are the best. Real people. Everyday problems that arise from our shared upbringing in this crazy country of ours :) Great advice on this forum. People responding to each other’s comments. Feels more like a community.

    • Hello theLOLguy! I shared IHM’s post further on FB as an example of how patriarchy does not really benefit sons either. I hope you don’t mind. It’s nice of you to acknowledge the responses from well-meaning people that have been pouring in. Here’s wishing you good luck and all the patience that you need to deal with and overcome your situation. I hope that some day you and your parents share an amicable relationship.

    • Hey there! First off, I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’m a girl, and my family and I live abroad, and even I don’t have to put up with as much as you do, which is saying something.

      That being said–you’re not alone in your second attempt. I’m on my second attempt too, of sorts, and I wish you all the best! Getting your second wind can be a really fabulous thing, and now you have something to work towards. :)

      As for the chronic loneliness, I would suggest reading a lot. Pretty much anything you can get your hands on. It can be a really good way to combat that, as well as keep your mind active.

      I would end this with the words, “Study hard, party harder.” but those don’t seem applicable right now…so just study hard my friend. :) And see where that takes you.

  19. Parents need to understand that just like girls are not liabilities boys should not be treated as assets and hence always “protected”.
    how many of us as parents would choose to have a good talk about safe sex with our teenage boys and not choose the easy way to just enforce bans on night outs,girls and internet?

  20. Nothing you can do will change your parents. however that shouldnt stop you from telling them exactly how you feel about them. study well, become independent and live your life, continue advising them.. maybe one day it will sink in, if not too bad you tried. lead your life and don’t let them influenc eyou, if possible work on your brother. maybe he’ll see you happy adn break away too. might just save his future wife’s sanity.

  21. I agree with many of the comments here. First off, it’s nice to see that you are thinking about these things, feel the need for freedom, choices, etc. That’s the first step. Some men (and women of course) are so stifled by our ‘traditions’ they have lost touch with their feelings. They do not even crave choices and in fact, fear them.

    I had half traditional half liberal parents. I really did not rebel at all. Not proud of it – but in retrospect, it seemed to be the right way for my family. My route was – study hard, go to an excellent college, continue to excel in studies. With academic excellence, came respect from my parents – they stopped questioning when I started doing things differently, bit by bit. To them, I evolved into someone they partially respect and partially disapproved of (my dad especially), but it happened gradually so there was not much conflict. I can honestly say my mother was always on my side inside her heart but couldn’t stand up to my father’s dominating ways.

    My father is confused – on the one hand, he wants his daughters to be ‘intelligent’, pushed us to study hard, gave us opportunities. But when we became women, he wanted us to become more docile. I think this mental conflict is very common among middle class families. In my case, rebellion would’ve produced shock and extreme lack of acceptance and possibly ties cut off. Because I went the gradual route, I feel my parents evolved, along with me. We have ties, bonds, affection. My children enjoy their grandparents. My parents see me raising my children differently, with trust, with respect for their individual selves, with choices. I think the other day, my father was surprised when my son said, “Grandpa, I know you don’t like me wearing shorts but I like wearing shorts and it’s okay for you to not wear shorts, don’t worry, I still like you, even when yo wear that long white cloth thingy.” Ha ha:) My father was speechless. With me he ad to change some. Now again with grandkids, he’s growing some more:)

    I wouldn’t assume that all parents are well-meaning, all women are good, all men are aggressive, all of the poor are innocent, etc. These are stereotypes. Anyhow, ‘well-meaning’ doesn’t matter, your actions matter. If your parents’ actions are causing you distress, you need to sit down and have a talk with them – maybe try to get agreement at least on some issues – “Please do not interrupt when Im on the phone” etc. If this doesn’t work, the best route is study hard, get away to a college, and find yourself there.

    But your work will not be done even then. Parents such as ours will continue to try and exert control on their adult children’s lives. Continue to have a talk with your parents about your views, when you visit them from college. Let them see that you are changing, evolving, learning, growing, in small ways – you may see them learning and evolving too in response to your growth. Continue to make independent decisions through college, finding a job, and marriage. It is highly likely that one day, your parents will accept you as your own person, and love you for who you are. Or they may accept only partially. It doesn’t matter. This is your life and you need to live it fully.

    • This is such a sweet comment! However, isn’t it sad that we need to gradually teach our parents to accept us as individuals with their own different opinions and choices, instead of it being a natural order?

      • Pallavi, true, it’s sad that we have to gradually teach our parents to accept us as individuals. Sometimes I feel I’m the grown up and they’re the kids. When I have a personal problem, I can’t ask for their advice. They will either worry, panic, or regret the past. They will never say, ‘You hang in there girl, you’ll do fine!’ Or think about next steps. So I resolve my problems myself. I only share good news. Heck even my kids who are still growing/developing/learning about the world seem more mature/logical.

        • Yep, that’s all we need… a simple ‘hang in there, you’ll do alright. let us know how we can help and we will.’ At least when we’ve turned adults, no?

      • Yes i
        it is sad for us that we have to parent them in a way. The problem is this co-dependence and sometimes emotional blackmailing and abuse has been going on for so many generations that they do not know any better. The younger generation has this task of raising consciousness by valuing individuality

  22. Indians are asking you to rebel by conforming a little more. I recommend your rebel by dressing up like Noomi Rapace in the girl with the dragon tatoo.

    • Okay, I know this is not the advice this guy needs. Besides, its not like there is a goth scene in India, he won’t even find the clothes or a tattoo parlour which is affordable and hygienic.
      But I still love, love this advice… :D

  23. Agree with what everyone on here has said about becoming financially independant and moving away. A job/studies in another city is a good excuse to live away from parents without them accusing you of ‘abandoning’ them or other emotional blackmail. Also, I would rebel in small ways. Maybe mention to neighbours that you’ve never been inside a mall or other things that might embarass your parents. Shift your PC so it faces a wall (so they cannot see what you are browsing). Do these little things so you get used to standing up to them, and so it does not come as such a shock when you eventually tell them how you feel.

    One question though, how is your parent’s relationship with your banker brother?How do they try to control him, does he live at home with you and your parents? Maybe join forces with your bro if he feels the same way as you do.

  24. Wow! This sounds exactly like me at 18 with a major change, I am a girl! Now being a girl is a major change because …..we you know, I am ‘khandan ki ijjat and the other crap’. Not only could i not talk to boys, but if i was heard talked about boys with other girls (my parents were ALWAYS listening on the extension, though they denied it) it was declaration of war! Once I received an invite for X’s ( X is a boy) birthday I was beaten for a hour (how was some random boy inviting you for his birthday) before I could finally tell them that X was Y’s brother (Y was my friend from school). I was finally given permission to go but couldn’t, I didn’t have any clothes long enough to to cover up the bruises! I lived with my parents for the first 20 years of my life most miserably. By the time I left, I had no friends and no life. Why no friends, because until recently, I never told anyone about how miserable those 20 years had been. Since no one knew, I couldn’t join my friends for any activities when
    a. I had bruises form some beating
    b. my parents said no or worse
    c. when my parents initally said yes and then said no right before i left (some excuse of my bad behaviour was concoted for denying permission last minute!)
    d. I never invited any one over since I was never sure how my parents would behave (they regularly threateded me that they would tell every one how horrible a person i was if i didn’t toe thier line!)

    No I didnot have access to any feminist material, no internet, no computer (how i became a Software Engineer through this is anouther story). When i graduated, i had a job offer from A IT Company and was sent to CIty B for training. I wouldn’t have got even this chance if I had not had the fortune to graduate in 2008. Why fortune? Since in 2008 job were so scarce, my parents were worried that if I didn’t take this job I might not get any other!

    Suddenly the horizons opened before me. I had a job which paid well, I lived away from my parents and I could do what ever I wanted. I have since discivered that even with such rebeleous thoughts i hm actually a very nice person with many friends whom I meet whenever I like. Its been 6 years since, i haven’t returned to my parents house. I am now married (civil ceremony) and living in New York with my husband and like a fairy tale, I live happyly ever after!

    So my advice, get through your graduation,get a job in another city (other end of city is not an option since…), get out of the house! It worked for me!

    Though as an after thought, it might not be so easy for boys since DH lives the boy version of this tale, may be he will tell you his story when he gets back from work!

    Until then, hugs my little brother! Just hang in there until the Holy Grail of Employment set you free!

  25. I too endorse most of the opinions of the commentators. Moving away from home is the answer. Looking at your lack of exposure to basic things that is expected of most modern cities/countries of today, I have a feeling (Initially at least) you may suffer from inferiority complex/self pity/social disconnect with yourself and new surroundings. I would encourage you to overcome them. Once you move out I would suggest you participate in college activities which give you the highest chance of meeting young people your age/peer group that will help you in gaining confidence in yourself. Do not shut yourself out.

    I would like to congratulate you for realising this situation. Most of us succumb to emotional blackmail. You don’t have to now. Your parents are insecure. They are poring out their failures on you without realising it. They are setting themselves up for disappointment by having such expectations out of their sons. But do understand where they are coming from. Did they have such equally backward parents, were they constantly judged for the behaviour, punished? I think you can win this battle if you understand this as it will free your mind from anger and negativity which I am sure must be burning in you.

    Most of us are taught to ‘lash back’ or react or show anger and arrogance while dealing with insecure people like your parents. Incase of a worst case scenario, if a parent dies and we can only remember anger then the guilt that follows breaks us. Instead tell yourself, you support peace and forgiveness. You don’t have to become your parent. Show yourself your full potential.

    I personally take inspiration from Kung Fu/Chinese Martial Arts. It does not support violence, revenge, anger, bad attitude. It frees me from the chains of others, does not allow anger from others flow in me. I feel in control of my mind. If the most physical art form can support these I think you can easily help yourself.

  26. While I was reading through the comments, I realized that the person in question is 18 years old. Which most probably means he is facing the dreaded board exams. I have noticed this phenomenon in India where parents morph into dictators because they do not want their kids wasting time with ‘distractions’ which include malls, girls, movies etc.

    Can it be that it is the board exams that are making your parents behave this way? If so, sit down and talk with them about how their invasion of your privacy is making it more stressful for you ( which ofcourse will affect how you study). Talk to them about needing breaks to let steam off once in a while. Agree on a schedule. Like, for example, you will visit malls once a month or your phone conversations will not exceed 30 mins a day. Once they know and realize you are not going to let go of your entire life and fail the boards just because you spoke to / are infatuated with a girl, they may behave in a more normal fashion.

  27. I can go on and on about my mother’s controlling behavior. Luckily I am away from home living on my own, but whenever she visits for 1-1.5 months a year, my life is back to controlled teenager days with lots of good home cooked food. I am in my late twenties now with a good career/education but they have not changed one bit, When my mother visits, she will read any christmas/new year/wedding invitation cards from my friends, ask pointed questions about who I hang out with and pass her narrow judgement on who is good or not. She will even freak out about the shows I watch on TV and inspect my bank account. I can’t wait until she leaves and our relationship is back to daily phone calls. She would even ask me to share any email conversations with the guys she picked over shaadi.com to make sure I am writing to them appropriately. No sense of privacy/personal space or trust whatsoever. She is never going to change, I have accepted that and now lead my life and make my own decisions (boyfriends, breakup, closest friends) without sharing with her. I miss having a close mature relationship with my parents (mom is too controlling, father is too detached) but I am an adult woman and refuse to have my every choice/decision/hiccup scrutinized and controlled.
    My advice is along the same line as everyone, study hard and become financially independent, then lead the life you want for yourself but also keep in mind your parents might never change .

    • Wow! well done you. I am in a similar situation since I returned from abroad. I am in my early thirties and still controlled by parents and extended family. I lived abroad on my own but was safe and had friends. I have worries about doing this in India as a single woman. What are your views? Do you have any suggestions?

  28. Some people advised to go behind the back of the parents and even lie about things you do etc. but i think in.such a situation it’ll make matters worse. I think one needs to remember that there are no ”perfect’ children and by default no ‘perfect’ parents.Maybe you are comparing them with your friends parents’.May be they are too interfering but you need to see the situation as a whole.They are spending on your education and prolly continue to pay your rent till you graduate. So if you cannot reconcile the issue with negotiating with your parents for small freedoms and waiting for the bigger ones later, i suggest you start earning from now only. Work and learn which is difficult by itself.Rebellion without responsibility is useless !And will probably will make you an ungrateful child. Can you handle so much work now ?

    My parents sacrificed and worked really hard to bring me up so giving up late night parties and discos,drinking and spending money uselessly seemed very small in that comparison.I think for a girl i have been brought in a very liberal way. I could voice my opinions freely ,read and watch movies what i want either at home or at theatre.Roam and loiter with friends.Since my friends belonged to middle class ethos too we never went to pubs or late night parties.
    Now when i am in 30s ,i find no inclination for these things because my interests and priorities have changed.I have not given a single salary to my parents nor have they demanded. I spend for myself since i started earning and for them too[though they don't like it]. I make my decisions but always ask my parents too. Their opinions matter to me a lot. They refrain from giving advice now but i still ask.
    So if you want to maintain some relationship with parents without coming across as ungrateful, work your ass off for it.

    • I am a mother of a 3 year old. I had a really carefree existence before my daughter arrived on the scene with plenty of disposable income to boot. Now, thanks to the expenses and responsibilities of having a child I no longer party late into the night or buy expensive clothes.

      The fact is I made a CHOICE to have my daughter. My daughter did not make a choice to have me. I, as an adult weighed in on the consequences of having a child and decided it was worth it for me. I cannot expect my daughter to be grateful for the ‘sacrifices’ I have made because I did not ask for her opinion while deciding to make those sacrifices. Infact some of those sacrifices are my responsibility as a parent. And once again, I CHOSE to become a parent like all other parents who make that conscious decision.

      The fact also is that my daughter is an INDIVIDUAL. I cannot get away with being controlling and behaving obnoxiously just because I made all those ‘sacrifices’ that my daughter never asked for. She still has rights – right to being treated with respect and dignity. Right to develop into a person who may be different from me. Right to make mistakes. It is my responsibility as a parent to make sure she grows up into a person who understands right from wrong and makes her decisions because I cannot lock her up ( and do not want to ) for ever.

      And just because I am a parent does not mean that I am never wrong. In fact my 3 year old has pointed out many times with her simplistic logic that I have been wrong, that I have not done the right thing. And most of the times I mustered up some grace to apologize. I am proud of the fact that I said sorry to my daughter and will continue to do so because it will help her learn to correct her mistakes and to trust her instincts when she is right.

      So in the above case, yes the boy is legally of age. And while we sing ballads about how kids ‘should’ take care of their parents, lets think of these parents and the responsibilities they assumed when they had him. It is their duty to provide him with atleast the opportunity for a good education so that he is prepared to be a contributing member of the society. To hold him hostage on that issue reeks of anything but maturity.

  29. I don’t advocate deception but mummiji & dadaji need to get out of their almost grown son’s face, and he needs some space before he’s actually out of their clutches and graduated with a job far far away. After a certain point if they act that way after setting some boundaries and they refuse to listen, well if you take these measures, they’ll have earned it.
    In no particular order:
    If you can figure out a way to get an alternate line under your own name (your own mobile) attached to your own mailbox that they do not know about or an alternate place to look at stuff on a PC they don’t have access to, do so. Continue to use your parents’ computer & mobile so they don’t get suspicious and occasionally push back like you’re insulted.
    Save your female friends’ names under male names on your mobile(s). On their home computer create an administrator account(that they don’t know about) and a guest account (which they see, no sign in).

    Make a copy of your legal documents (birth certificate, etc) and have it in a bank safe deposit box they do not have access to.

    If you get any pin monies or any monies, have your own account which they don’t know about and an account which they know about. If mummydaddy insists on a password to your email, make sure it’s the dummy account. Have one which they do not know about. Actually when you’ve moved out continue to lock down your computer, browser and mobile, because we know that mummydaddy loves rifling through your things and will do so given the opportunity.

    Purchase a nice shredder (for the flat you will live in.)

    Since there’s a high probability that mummydaddy loves impromptu visits, make sure you have a doorman/person/setup where they cannot just waltz in.

  30. Just a short quote which may be a propos:
    “A slave cannot be freed save he free himself. Neither can you enslave a free man. The most you can do is kill him.” Of course, first he needs to realise that he’s a slave…and then that he is being killed, in this case his spirit.

  31. Hi everyone who has posted here, thank you. This also helps me because I have a similar problem at home even though I am much older. Where can I meet like-minded people like you? I lived abroad and returned to India recently. So my social scene is pretty much non-existent

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  38. I have a very similar situation but mine were Chinese conservative parents! Missed out on a lot of natural socialization processess and have always been shy on top of that. Anyways, going to university and studying away I really had to hide my personality from them or else deal with the disapproval treatment. After finding a job and moving out really earned their respect and they know it’s not a big bad world anymore. In fact, they trust me with unconditional love and gave me the blessing of marrying a wonderful Indo-Canadian man! However, with his conservative upbringing, it was a battle to achieve respect and unconditional love even with all his relatives. It’s still a working progress at the age of 37 and two beautiful kids. We’ve had serious emotional blackmail from his relatives even though we show love and respect in every way but nothing is good enough. Even though we both have accomplished careers and gave everything there was interference from all levels. We have since set boundaries with the help of therapy and it’s hard to fight “culture” (can’t argue with culture) I am extremely proud of how my husband has handled all the abuse to him and me and will continue to love but in a different city and on our terms. One day they will accept our choices but change is hard for them because the value system has been entrenched since they were young. For example, if you don’t do this you are a bad girl, it’s very black and white. In order for them to change, they have to overhaul their whole belief system and it’s not something they want to do. But we have to live our lives to our utmost potential and live in happiness. I’d like to think I know what’s best for me now at 34 years old I hope! :-)

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