“When the time comes to support them, they back out and and blame the children for misusing their trust and freedom.”

What exactly is Misuse of Freedom and Trust? Why is choosing one’s life partner seen as a ‘betrayal’ by many Indian families/parents?

Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

I am back again asking for your help regarding a problem. Would be grateful if you could post this on your blog – I would like to know what people who have been in such situations have to say.

My husband and me had a love marriage – we are from different religions/caste/language and different states. We waited and fought for 3 years for approval from his side – which never came. He was given an ultimatum to go and lead his life or forget me and stay in the family. My husband chose the former and we have been so happy ever since. His folks (mom and 3 sisters & their husbands) gave more importance to society and relatives approval and “what will people say” rather than his happiness. But within a few months they back tracked and accepted him back into the household because his mom couldn’t be without seeing him. He lost his father a few years before we even became good friends… (and that also was brought in as a reason to oppose our union). His 3 elder sisters and family are cordial and warm to him. It’s going to be 10 yrs since we’ve been married, but I have not been accepted into the family. His nieces had not been told about his marriage, but as 4 of them grew into adults, they came to know of of the matter. But no one talks about it and the family prefers to brush anything regarding us under the carpet. “We” are never talked about, but assumptions are made by them on how we lead our life. We are more than happy to be away from all this family politics and orthodox values, superstitious beliefs etc.

Now coming to the real issue – his 1st niece is in the USA. She went there 3 yrs back to do her MS and is now working there. She is in love with her good friend there. He is of a different caste-and that is the only difference. She has known him for the last 3 years and they have been going steady for the past 1 year. He is a good boy, with equal education, a great job and from a good family. The last couple of months her parents have been pressurizing her with proposals and when she could take it no more, informed her mom about her love last month. The nightmares have started since then, her mom doing the crying, lamenting, not talking phases, emotional blackmail, threatens and everything else.

They are playing the caste card, the boy being a non-Brahmin. They claim that relatives will desert them, no one will talk to them, marriages of the other 5 girls (her own sister and 4 cousins) will be a problem, how will they face the world etc etc. Another important fact – “how can we agree for this when we opposed your Uncle’s marriage?”. The same accusations and reasons and fights that took place 13 yrs ago is repeating itself. Horoscope, society, caste and everything else matters more. None of them have changed even a bit. It’s like living through all that emotional abuse all over again. She has tried in all her conversations to explain that he will keep her happy and her happiness should be important for them and how their interests, goals and likes match and how they will make a good couple. But none of this matters – the parents say “our happiness should be more important to you than yours”!!!!

Another problem – this girl’s younger sister just got her visa for her MS and will be going to the same city that her sister stays. The parents and aunts (mother’s sisters) have started to blackmail and brainwash the younger one asking her how is she going to stay with her sister because she has fallen in love, she will not take care of you. Why can’t you not go there now, do your PG here in India”, etc etc. They are trying to turn the younger one against the older stating that “she is doing a favour by spending for you, because she wants our approval in return. She has become rude because she in earning in $’s in the USA” etc etc. The sisters are very close to each other and are stunned by this divide and rule and lies and twisting of stories from the parents side.

Both of them are not putting up their views very strongly fearing that their parents will not allow the younger one to travel. It’s another torture to listen to all the arguments and emotional abuse and blackmail and not voice their opinions.

A few days back the parents laid down conditions to the younger one – that if they send her to the USA

1. You have to go and try change your sister’s mind
2. You have to come back after 2 years of studies
3. You have to work and repay your study loan yourself (as in not take money from the elder one)
4. You cannot think of having a love marriage.

The parents are in a fix because the elder one will not be coming down to India anytime soon, because she just had her visa status changed. They feel she is so far away and is out of their hands, so they are trying to guilt trip her into accepting that because of what she did (falling in love) she is responsible for spoiling her sister’s future if her parents decide not to send her to the USA.

They are definitely not going to accept this and I fear the boy’s situation would become the same as mine – a son-law who’s not accepted though they might accept the daughter back, in case they go ahead and get married by themselves.

All the years of growing up, achieving in studies, being a good child – all this apparently becomes of no use because you fall in love and choose your own partner. Why is it that parents think that their happiness lies in only whom their children marry whom they are told to marry? They do everything for their children, but when the real time comes to support them in their happiness, they back out and and blame the children for misusing their trust and freedom.

I want your readers to please advice on what they should do and how should they react to all this emotional drama and assumptions and mental torture. There might be many who have been through such situations…..I need their expert advice.

Note –
1. These are not some illiterate, from the village type parents. These are educated and young parents in their 50’s.
2. The boy’s side is very liberal and broad minded. His sister also had a love marriage and there is no problem from the boy’s side.

Thanks in advance to you IHM and all your readers.

Related Posts:

LOVE – Is it a Crime?

Against your child’s happiness

An email: I want my parents to know the real me, why do I have to lie?

Why do we hear concerned voices about ‘misuse of freedom’ the moment we talk about Freedom?

‘We grew up in a very liberal family. We knew what our limits were and our focus was our education. We never betrayed our parents.’

39 thoughts on ““When the time comes to support them, they back out and and blame the children for misusing their trust and freedom.”

  1. IHM, this is so ironic – the “misuse of freedom and trust” and “betrayal’ that the parents feel is actually what they themselves are engaging in, with their children.
    Children trust their parents to love them and express their differences honestly. They expect their parents to be fair and considerate. They expect their parents to act like adults and resolve conflicts maturely, without resorting to threats and blackmail. These parents have betrayed their children’s trust and defied every one of these founding principles of a healthy relationship.
    A big part of a parent’s job is to model honesty, trust, and respect, so the children can grow up and have healthy relationships of their own later in life. They have failed miserably on this front.

    I’m not even so upset about parental disapproval here. Parents who have been raised in another era may find it hard to accept their children’s choices – choices that they themselves have never experienced. What I find unacceptable here is the manner in which this disapproval is being conveyed. Blackmail, vengeance, meanness, unjust conditions, playing one sibling against another, shoving problems under the rug, not taking responsibility for mistakes – these traits make it impossible to have any respect for them.

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  2. Unfortunately, the only sensible thing to do would be to completely ignore these people. If the elder sister can help with some arrangements (air tickets, etc), the younger one will still be able to make it to her MS program with the help of an educational loan ( I took one such loan, and there is no payments necessary till you graduate and get a job )

    It would be even better to warn the younger sister that the parents can potentially get abusive and resort to locking her up ( unfortunately, I have seen this happen😦 ) So she needs to be really quick and careful about making her decisions.

    People like the parents mentioned in the story care only about one thing – control and peer approval. Letting them know strongly and repeatedly that their consent does not matter is the only way to deal with the situation.

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  3. Dear LW,
    Parental conflict in love marriages is not uncommon. If parents express their concern in a loving, respectful manner, the children have a chance to engage in an open dialouge with their parents. Negative feelings on both sides may not be assuaged overnight, but eventually these type of parents will value their children’s happiness higher than society’s approval. The process of acceptance of change then happens without any real damage to the parent child relationship.

    When parents indulge in mean tactics like blackmail and revenge, then they are incapable of reasoning. It is not worth it to waste your tears over them. Gray hair does not automatically confer wisdom on people. A young, mean/unreasonable person will most likely age into an old mean/unreasonable person. You sound like a rational person and you seem to have a happy marriage. Distance yourself from the family drama. Be proud of who you are and the decisions you made.

    For your nieces, I would advice the same thing. Since they are academically inclined, education is a great weapon for them – they should use it to get away from this unhealthy environment and make their own decisions.

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  4. If the elder sister is willing to spring the money and the younger sister is legally an adult, I really don’t see the problem. The younger sister can borrow money from the elder and pay it back later. If the sisters are close and willing to help each other, what’s the problem, really? It’s not as if the younger one is dependent on the parents. In fact, it’s the parents who should be scared that they would lose both their daughters in one stroke. My advice is that the sisters just plan everything together and then inform the parents, and carry on with whatever plans they have made, irrespective of who says what. As for not being ‘allowed’ to travel, the parents don’t have the legal authority to prevent that at all. So grab your courage in both your hands, put some cotton in your ears and go forth to find your future.

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  5. Wen will this caste issue end ?? Anyways ur inlaws seem to be beyond help.My frn had a similar prob.She is jaat frm hariyana…one of the few educated and empowred females in her family.Wen she fell in love with a guy fr another caste.All hell broke loose…Her parents tried all tactics…even threatened to do honour killing of her bf n her..She immediately took the first opportunity to fly off to US….she finally married her bf against her family’s wishes.Even now she is tentative abt visiting her parents.They wont hesitate to kill her n her family if they get the opportunity.I m glad tht she is out of their reach.
    Sometimes we hav to be selfish.Tell ur nieces to follow their heart n not succumb under parental pressure.Life cannot be lived on sacrifices..it will only lead to bitterness.I dont understand this honour obsession among Indian parents…I thought we were done with all this in 50s sadly its still thriving

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First for you –

    We care not in charge of how people react. You still have certain expectations and wish to be accepted. It is nice to be accepted but perhaps you need to let go and just accept the fact that your husband’s family will not like you. It is okay. It is them and their choice.

    Secondly for the nieces –
    – Let the younger one accept the conditions and go to US. Then, both are out of reach right?
    – They cannot physically lock the younger one. Let her keep her passport and money and book her own tickets if she has her own money or ask her sis to send her some money form US.
    – Elder sis should be firm. If people are abusive, just do not talk until people can talk in a non abusive manner.
    – Unless you guys have been consulted, there is not much you can do. At most, your husband can try talking to his family and support your niece financially until she goes to US.

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  7. Dear Lord. Indian parents can be so cold hearted and selfish. I say the ‘children’ just go and live their lives as they please. Way too many Indian parents use the sacrifice’ bit as a trump card…. “we have sacrificed our happiness to bring you up”…. hogwash. They had you because they wanted to, and they brough you up likewise because they wanted to. There’s no sacrifice, it’s all about personal choice.

    I can only say that I’m glad my parents are open and liberal people who put our happiness above anything else. I am married to someone outside my religion, and my brother to a woman from another community. They love all four of us like their own kids, and we don’t even think about the differences! It’s the goodness of the people that matters, in the end.

    It’s a pity that out stupid society doesn’t recognize that much. Idiots.

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    • Sacrifice: give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations, it is supposed to be selfless.

      Did Bhagat Singh ever say, guys I am dying for our country, so you’ve got to make me a national hero??

      What part of the ‘Sacrifice Trump Card’ is actually selfless? Its more like an investment in future for most parents. In DH’s words after a discussion about her sacrifice with his mother, he felt like a FD!

      Honestly, ALL animals take care of their young, so what is so special about that! Its only human who insist of staying in control of the their 50 year-old ‘children’

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  8. TBH, I’m pretty sure most of these caste-fanatics don’t even know a thing about the caste they belong to, It’s all about herd mentality, and a fear of society. Society needs to be shown the middle finger.

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    • that the right way to go about it, isn’t it?
      My headmistress used to say: You are going to have to live with your decisions and possibly longer than you parents, so in the long run, its more important to yourself happy than them.

      This lady moved out of a family who didn’t believe in working women, worked her way up living in hostels to become headmistress to one of the most famous girls in Bombay.

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  9. I will say this… Agree to your parents wishes.they want what is best for you… They know better because they are elder and have experience. Just agree to whatever they say and you can live happily as a slave

    Or you can take the other way. I dont think open rebellion will help you. You can lie through your teeth, accept their conditions and go to US. Once you are there you can break every promise and do what you want. The lies and the heartbreak of your parents is the price Of your freedom. Take it or leave it.

    In india you have freedom till only you follow the line… Step out and you realize its only a shadow, a mere illusion created to keep you happy. But when push comes to shove,
    You will have to pay the price, either by tears or in blood(as in blood relations)

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  10. I was in to position of the nieces one time. One of my uncles ‘had a love marriage’, seriously! LOVE marriage? what other types of marriage are there? HATE marriage? we all know about RAPE marriage!

    This uncle completely changed my thoughts about marriage. He said that forcibly sleeping/ marrying a stranger practically amounted to rape. He announced this at a family function where we were all being preached into ‘good’ marriages. We were told later that he went on to marry his friend and went to US (are they offering refuge for love married Indians?) and wasn’t to be spoken to again. But this left a major impact on me. I went from OK with arranged marriage/ parents know best/ marriage is not a bed of roses to I want it all. I dated quite a lot🙂 and evaluated each BF as potential husband/ partner. When I found that it was not as I wanted, I called it off and moved on (a big thank you to those guys for not being crazy fools who go about throwing acid/ etc.) I married DH knowing of his family’s disapproval and that it didn’t matter to us.

    My suggestion, tell them to follow your example, you are happy, they have a good chance too. May be it might not work out, if that does happen ( I pray to God it never does, that each of us have the courage to stand up for our partners) then they should never feel that they have to lie in the bed cause they made it, there are always softer beds to be got🙂

    PS: This is so going to end up as our story!!

    Met after death of father- Check
    Waited for 3 years – Check
    His ‘Family’ wanted him back post marriage- Check
    (Though technically ‘I’ am his family, he promised leave and cleave in his vows)
    We don’t exist for extended family – Check
    Difference, its only been 4 years so far

    so please, please, please let me know the solution to this so I can help out my nieces and nephews.

    *Hugs*

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  11. Yeh hai kahani ghar ghar ke…….

    All the young people who are of marriageable age as per marriage market are facing same issues.

    Nobody realises what this daily torture is. I am facing it everyday I know it has drawn all my energy.And there is no way out of it.

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  12. It’s really really sad that in this time and age, youngsters have to go through this. I think all that should matter to parents who really care about children is their happiness- even if it isn’t parents’ choice. My sister and I, both have had inter-caste marriages. Had we waited for parents’ consent, we would still be stuck there waiting for the approval of Daddy dear! There was lot of trouble during my sister’s wedding but she completely supported me when I wanted to get married. I went to court, got married and came to Mumbai. I have never regretted my decision because I truly found my soul mate who loves me more than my parents ever did.

    Even in his case, the younger sister should just agree to what the parents say and aim at getting out of that oppressive place. The world is huge and there’s place for everyone. So get out – by whatever means – and find your own life. Your parents ideas will be obsolete before your generation is over!! All the best!!

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  13. Explain, prepare and if nothing works go your way, They will follow.
    I have an aunt who refused to go to her sons wedding her first son since he married someone from another caste, she was cute, nice, educated and an excellent human being. They got married and lived their life, he visited mom, she was not welcome, she made every effort to fit in, the rest of his siblings/cousins accepted her, think she’s his best match. even themom’s siblings thought so. a few of them – who had love marriages themselves supported the couple ( not that they needed anyones support🙂 )
    now mom is sick , needs help and the same son pays for her care, hires a nurse, visits her with the wife and everyone is happy happy. yet the mom never apologized. to the DIL, never apologized for calling her names,ruining her wedding day, trying to ostracize her from the family, the hurt she caused .
    Yet she is said to be a good mother .. sigh!!! and I’m not allowed to question her as to why she behaved this way??? such is life. ( not that it stopped me🙂 )

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  14. i read only a very few comments as of now, and some of them are going a little anti-parents.:/ Since I am also going through a similar problem as this blog post, it can be safely assumed that I am not being hypocritical. Although each one of us needs to stand up for ourselves for things we believe in, it is also to be taken care of that parents do what they believe is good for us (not necessarily what we want, of course), not because of their own selfish motives (they might care about their peer approval, but well, apart from the highly sacrifice-demanding job of being parents, they are also regular human beings who want acceptance among peers) and since they have nurtured us and protected us from every evil that may come in life, they are extra cautious when it comes to us wanting to make decisions for ourselves. I know freedom is one of the most important thing any of us can have, especially when it comes to marriages but being completely against your parents or not caring about their emotions is quite wrong. And yes, I do know how hard it is to convince them for this marriage-related thing. Going through a similar phase.

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    • So what does one do if they refuse to agree, and you know the partner is picked is right for you, your life and happiness. Give it up???
      sad isnt it what someone who claim to love and protect you put you through.
      I’m not being sarcastic in asking you the above question.
      Will a person be happy sacrificing for their parents and what if they never ever find their soul mate again, will one be happy living with someone their parents picked knowing all along that they missed out on their choice?? is it fair to the person you marry ??
      i dont know the answers but i have 2 kids , one a teen and in 6-8yrs will probably be in the same boat, i can never ever put anyone else’s approval or acceptance over my kids happiness. NEVER. how can our parents do it???

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      • I think you have misunderstood the comment. I am NOT saying that one should do whatever their parents are saying. I am saying do what you want, but while you are at it, don’t think of things like ‘I don’t care about my parents’, or ‘My life, who are you to say anything?’. Basically, alienating the parents or thinking of them as someone who have got nothing to do with you is wrong. I understand in many cases you can’t survive unless you completely cut off contact with your parents but I am sure in many cases you can do what you wish while still caring for your parents. I NEVER said not to listen to your heart or not being true to yourself, that would just be completely wrong!

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        • I was talking about the general anti-parents vibe I felt here in few of the comments that I read. I believe in listening to my parents, and knowing why are they saying no for something. And then explaining to them why I don’t agree and then convincing for my point if I truly believe in it. I agree its one of the most difficult thing in the world (by experience) and many cannot go by this approach, but I am sure many can as well.🙂

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        • Very sensible comment Srishty. I think a lot of comments are on borderline ‘disown parents’ themes.

          I wonder what tantrums I threw as a kid and I wonder if my parents ever felt like ditching me.

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      • My ex boyfriend was from another religion (and I suppose caste as well). He was the love of my life and we both knew we were going to marry no matter what. Unfortunately, his family are ultra orthodox and shamed him very badly, saying that as the only son in 3 children, his bad example could ruin marriages for his sisters etc. So he broke it off with me unceremoniously.
        Fast forward 7 years, and my ex re established contact. He has been unhappy since. He’s discharged all his duties towards his family but he’s told me so often how he wishes he could have married me 7 years ago and how he regrets it every day. His condition makes me very sad. What pains me the most is that he should have had some satisfaction or happiness by ‘doing his duty’ when it is so clear that his parents have been the cause of his misery.
        My point to you is this: I don’t know whether I believe in soul mates or not, but if your partner is really worth it, you owe it to yourself to stand up for the relationship. You don’t marry for society, you marry for you. Yes, you sort of marry his family but whose face do you come home to everyday? In all mathematical probability it will turn out well and you will have a happy marriage. Sometimes, it won’t and you shouldn’t blame yourself even then because you know in your heart that you did what you thought was right. You took control of your own life and so you won’t have to blame anyone else. It is your life and you have to live with your decisions.

        Another thing: I just moved to the US for my graduate studies too. Believe me, once your sister comes over here, she’ll understand how freeing this place is. I’m not saying that the parents cease to be a nuisance, but being in a different time zone has its benefits to be sure! Once she has her own breathing space and sees how much opportunity she can create for herself, she’ll have the guts to follow her own life.

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  15. Even if parents think they know best, adult children should have the autonomy to decide how to live their lives. Autonomy will never be given on a platter. One has to grab it with both hands.

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  16. Hi,

    I am the Letter writer here. Thank you all for your responses.

    I would like to say here that no child would ever want to hurt their parents or be anti-parents. I do understand that people who have commented here also don’t endorse that view. The image children had of their parents as loving, caring people takes a complete U-turn and they see a totally different set of people. What happens to the trust the children had of the parents?

    It is just that when children want to convey/talk or have a dialogue with parents with regard to their life and decisions, it hurts when parents resort to such tricks and manipulative methods. Yes I understand that parents also want peer approval and have a stand in society. But is that more important when it comes to your child’s happiness?.

    I always believe that in a situation like this-where love/choice marriage is concerned, the parents should at least lend a ear, listen to their children. Find out about the guy/girl. If they approve tell the world “My child liked this guy/girl. We too liked the person and the family. We are getting them married”. Will their peers and society come and hold black flags and protest???? The said so called society will accept it and grace the wedding as the concerned parents have agreed. They then will go on to live their lives and wait for the next wedding in the circle. The society anyways “talks and find faults” with any type of marriage anyways. There is no stopping them. Parents are not willing to understand this bit of truth.

    These are the kind of parents who want an arranged marriage at any cost and think that if the horoscope matches then everything is fine. The horoscope will tell everything about the boy/girl and the family. And even if there is any problem in the couple’s lives they will refuse to buy it saying the fault lies with the girl or boy and they have to try harder – because the horoscope matched. The couple should suck it and bear if there is any problem. Even after trying and if the couple want to seperate, they are will not be allowed to do so. They should bear all the problems and stay together for society and peers and because the horoscope matched.

    I wanted to have some different views on how the girls could convince their parents – and some real life examples of some of the readers of what they did to convince their folks. It was a different fight for my husband (he being a boy, though with the same family). And no, I am not looking for acceptance for myself, not after all these years. We are very happy with ourselves, leading our own life and are very glad to be away from all this politics and drama and have accepted the fact that they will never accept us. Even if they do after how many ever years they want to, we will always keep our lives distant.

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    • There is nothing you can do, Some parents will not agree at any cost, pride, ego , society whatever. you simply have to let go and move on. If they reconcile later good if not thats ok. You have to build your own family and make sure not to repeat those mistakes.
      Sometimes you can convince them sometimes you cannot. I never managed to convince mine. They were ok with me walking out maybe if i were a son they would have adjusted and gridgingly accepted since they relied on the son for their future??? maybe maybe not. I’m quite happy with my decision. no regrets and would do exactly the same if it came to that, actually i would do it a bit early and now waste my time in meaningless drama. I have my family, my spouse, kids my extended family, relatives who accept us. plenty of great friends . i think that’s what we all want a happy life.

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  17. the parents are obviously being ridiculous with their demands of the younger sister, but in order to get away, I think it is necessary for the younger sister to nod along to their demands so she can escape their clutches. Let her go away for her Masters and then do as she pleases.

    The elder sister of course, needs to follow her own mind and do as she pleases. Marry the guy she is in love with.

    You and your husband can offer emotional support and guidance to them, and even if she and her boyfriend (future husband) are shunned by the family, who cares?! YOU guys are family too, YOU guys can form your own little circle of trust.

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  18. We have also had a love marriage, not only out of state, but out of country and out of race. I am Canadian and my husband is Tamil….you can only imagine the difficulties we had from a conservative, devout, purely Brahmin family LOL.
    Let me tell you – that emotional blackmail only works if you let it. If the family wants to be idiotic and place importance over “society” and “what society will think” then let them torture themselves. It is pure drama and nobody should even entertain it. The problem with “what will happen to the other sisters” is that it is not for anybody to predict. To each their own, and some people just have a different destiny, like us who have had love marriages.

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  19. Pingback: How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  20. Pingback: ‘My parents will be ignored and ridiculed. No one will let them forget my so called shameful behaviour.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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