‘Older people in our society need to learn to have a life of their own. Instead of seeking happiness in their kids’ lives, …’

1. What prevents the Indian elderly from ‘seeking fulfilment in their own actions’?

Do they face pressure not to ‘live alone’? Or disapproval if they do not ‘help’ their adult children run their lives and have and raise their children?

I met a busy and otherwise happy 53 year old who loves her successful career, and finds it fulfilling. She was worried that she would not be able to do for her grand children what her homemaker friends manage to do. No matter how much she did, she felt ‘there would be comparisons’.

Another 73 year old independent woman continued to ‘live alone’ after her husband’s death, six years ago, in the same house, with the same dependable domestic staff, managing her own finances, and in reasonably good health.

Her children are ‘asked questions’. She too faces criticism for not wanting to live with her grandchildren. How well she knows her grand children, and how well they know her, is one question she is frequently asked. (Maybe, mainly by those elderly who wouldn’t permit their family members to ‘live alone’?)

Yet another retired and widowed elderly was judged because the children found he was in a relationship. What was the objection? Maybe there were fears that he might spend his hard earned money on himself (or on the partner)?

It seems, as a society, we disapprove of the elderly living their lives or spending their own money.

Maybe it’s not just the elderly – we seem to disapprove of enjoyment [link].

2. If the Indian elderly had lives of their own – how do you think would the society be different?

Maybe, they would have less time to think about family values, marriageability or career prospects of, not just there own, but also other people’s children?

Maybe, there would be lesser anxiety over ‘trivial issues‘ like eating or drinking preferences or housekeeping skills of Indian daughters in law?  And maybe, there would be more interest in taking care of their own health, happiness and self reliance?

Does personal discontent makes the Indian elderly more inclined to wish to control the lives of other people? Would the elderly who are content in their own lives be more willing to allow their children find out what makes them truly happy?

Do you think this could, in someways, harm the society? Could this make the adult children feel unloved and uncared for by the parents who are not controlling or atleast ‘commenting’ upon their lives?

What do you think?

Sharing Malyaj’s comment in response to this post – “I remember how tensed my family was at the time of my marriage 2 years back. Every time they were forced to do ‘Milnis and Teekas with heavy envelopes’.”

Seriously, Why do we need to involve money in everything I don’t understand !

I detest this obsession with money, especially other people’s. I hate when people tell other how much they spent on their family events, when they ask the same questions. And how crassly and casually people ask each other’s salaries and about material possessions. I simply do not understand it.


Older people in our society need to learn to have a life of their own. Instead of seeking happiness in their kids’ lives, they need to live their own lives and seek fulfillment in their own actions – go join a book club, travel alone for a few months, learn a language, pick up a new hobby, paint, run, ride a bicycle, write a blog, fulfill the aspirations you couldn’t earlier, get some more education.. the possibilities are unimaginable. But most of them are stuck with chasing their kids to get married, then to have kids and to show off their status in the process. What a waste of life that could have been reclaimed !


Related Posts:

‘How I am going to manage two toddlers, work, home, chores etc etc without any physical and moral support from my in laws?’

If I made Baghban.

To Baghpat village elders: Self reliance and education, and not cell phone bans and covered heads empower women and society.

An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”

But how do we go about accepting ourselves just the way we are?

“Everyone knows, when she decides not to keep relation, she will do that. But I don’t want to go far away from my mother, I want her to be with me.”

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

Because of my initial submissiveness, my husband and his family volunteer to take care of my chores, to let me resume my career.

100 per cent of the elderly surveyed stated that their daughters-in-law abused them the most.

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

“I have no other option than to move in with my very orthodox in laws. I need tips to not get hurt.”

“My in-laws don’t hate me at all. But ‘love’ isn’t about all this. ‘Love’ is about letting your loved one ‘live’.”

My husband gives me the usual ‘you have not just married me, you have married my family..’ sermon

“Leaving US is a tough decision and, going back to live with in-laws has scared and shaken me.”

An email: The last straw was her expecting me to practise 4 day period sit-out thingy.

“My Mother in law is very patient towards all the doings of the Males in the family.”

“He has decided that we will stop trying to have a child now as he wants things to improve between his mother and I.”

“If I was born somewhere else, sometime later, in a more liberal family, in a more equal world…”


106 thoughts on “‘Older people in our society need to learn to have a life of their own. Instead of seeking happiness in their kids’ lives, …’

  1. The elderly who choose to live alone and independently have to listen to a lot of societal backlash and their children (read: married adults with kids of their own!) are labeled as “ungrateful”.
    I know one lady who lost her husband a while back, and has two sons and daughter. All are married and are living separately. This lady decided that she wanted to continue living alone in her house and not live with the sons or daughters, nor she wanted them to disrupt their lives and come live with her. She is a phenomenally talented person, so the entire day she takes tuition for school children, teaches languages and stitching and designing to adults! She is so busy and happy in her lift that one needs to tell her few days beforehand if one wants to meet her so she can clear her time table accordingly!!! She was saying that she has faced HUGE pressure to leave everything and stay with the sons (not daughter), and people have called her sons “ungrateful”, and blame the daughter in laws for “making the poor lady alone”. People even comment on her choice of wearing all the colors instead of plain white. The family is said to have “no respect for elders, and forgot the father easily”, since they all chose their personal happiness over being emotionally dependent on each other.


    • Is it true that they forgot parents and forgot to include them in their life when they were younger ?
      Outsiders will not be able to tell what goes on inside this actually emotionally ‘independent’ household !
      Maybe the mother is scared of living under the thumb of Dils !
      I think the mother is absolutely right in living alone,while healthy and mentally alert !
      One can live with disconnected grownup children and still feel alone !

      Liked by 1 person

      • People can love their parents and still make a decision to live separately due to various factors including better job opportunities.That does not mean they “forget their parents”.

        Sure, I agree, outsiders can never tell what goes on inside the families, so they should not make comments about each individual choices.

        Scared of the DILs? Maybe, Maybe not..but you forget there is a SIL in the picture too..

        Your last line is just so true!! Living alone (independently and Happily) is much much better than feeling lonely in a group of people..

        Liked by 1 person

        • Or maybe they all get along great, but are happily living in their own homes. Some (many?) of us may not like the idea of relocating and settling down in a new place with our kids/parents, specially if we have a life where we have been living all along.

          Liked by 4 people

    • The basic issue is Indians seem to have too much time to analyze the lives of other people who are quite happy living on their own.

      -Singles are seen as ‘frustrated’ and ‘unhappy’.
      -Women without children are ‘frustrated’, ‘unhappy’, ‘unfulfilled’ and ‘will cast an evil eye on the happiness of other women with chidren’.
      -Elderly who want to lead their own lives without being roped in to babysit grandkids are ‘selfish’ at worst and ‘unfortunate, not cared for by their ungrateful sons and dils’ at the most charitable.
      -Young people who want to lead lives of their own are ‘ingratiates’. If they don’t get the older generation to care for the kids ‘they are very cruel and depriving the elderly of the company of their grand children.’

      No one can ever be right – any which way. Period.

      I think it is high time we stopped worrying about what others think and do our own thing. Let people who seek their entertainment in such gossip please themselves. Sooner or later, when more and more people live their own way and ‘people’ realize how happy each of those are, things will change and hopefully we will have a more rational, healthier society.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Oh dear – she is CONTENT. How dare she!! How can one be permitted to be content? Who is then going to b*tch about the DILs, the children, pass judgement on other people’s lives etc.? Such irresponsibility!

      Kudos to this wonderful lady for living life on her terms instead of bothering about what char-log will say.


  2. “Older people in our society need to learn to have a life of their own. ”
    – How would they learn that when most of them married – “Because it’s important to get married!!” & mostly because they married the person they barely knew because their parents found the girl/boy suitable.

    For these people…..children are nothing but an insurance policy. Somebody who’ll take care of them when they’re old. Most of these older people – because there was hardly any connection between them and spouses – their children are the only thing to cling to. They’re ALWAYS seen as children – even after they’ve grown up.

    Those older people who lived their lives on their terms(marriage, career etc) – mostly don’t interfere too much.


  3. My grandmother is 73 and has been living alone ever since my grandfather who was 82 passed way 1 year back.
    She is financially secure as my grandfather left behind FD’s and she also gets pension. Apart from that she gets rent fro 3 apartments that my grandfather owned. She leads a very active life, knits, attends various bhajans, reads 4 newspapers daily and basically spends time the way she wants.
    So 6 months after my grandfather passed away she set out on a vacation to visit her relatives whom she had not visited over the years, and the kind of comments that she had to listen to were horrible…
    People said that she was happy my grandfather passed away, some said that she is enjoying life post his death and worse still people had objections that she was happy…
    And all these “people” are middle aged i.e. 35-45 year old corporate employees who were using their English language in this manner..
    Some people said that she must live with one of her children and then started blaming my parents and aunts as they were not forcing her to stay with them etc…So I feel that basically it’s people who themselves are trapped and cannot see others leading free independent lives that they try to make other’s lives also miserable. But my grandmother did not give in, she simply told all of them that in her heart she knows what she is going through and that she need not explain it to everyone and especially since “they are not taking care of me and neither am I dependant on them”.. I think it also stems from the fact that a lot of people spend all their money on their children without saving for the rainy day – in the name of love for their children and think that they can depend on their children, but the reality is different.
    I think, that instead of spending beyond limits on children, people should start planning for retirement so that they are not going to be dependent on their children and thus they will not emotionally blackmail the kids later on in their life..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think its an affliction limited to the elderly. For some strange reason the land of yogis nowadays ostracises anyone cutting their own path in life, be it having an open relationship, a live in or even living alone whatever the age of the ‘offender’ might be. Anything that doesn’t confirm to society’s diktas is seen as ‘bad’. You are not supposed to have a life of your own using your own intelligence and discrimination. It’s become our habit to conform blindly to anything and everything right from choosing our job to the marriage partner. When you have been doing that for 50 odd years it’s unreasonable to expect folks to suddenly rebel and seek ‘fulfilment’ in life when they hit retirement 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. If older people start living own their own things will be much much different. But from my experience, I have seen older parents like to interfere because they feel if they wont interfere, the DIL will rob family’s whole treasure and give it to her parents or spend it extravagantly.
    This situation is because most of parents give all what they earned to their kids, never keep it for themselves. Every son is raised with this value that everything what their parents own is his. So the son never leaves parents and parents never leave son.

    If we deeply analyze the Indian relations, our relations are mostly based on material dependence and hardly sometimes on emotions and love. Older parents want their son and DIL provides them with food, the son and DIL do this to get the parents property.

    Our Elderly mostly think as after they retire its time to rest and its the time for their kids to feed them as they have done it for their kids when they were little. They feel they have spent their whole life for doing so much for their kids, now its their time.As soon as person’s kids are married he is being given advice, why are you working, sit and rest.

    Sometimes when I observe Indian older people’s habits, all they do is sit and talk, walk and talk, nothing more. It feels like over the years, they have forgotten that they used to had some hobbies or they still can develop some. You will always find most older women just talking, backbiting their or someone others’ Sons/Daughters and DILS.

    Our elder people have lot of free time, and in most of these people thinks traveling and seeing the world is total waste of money. Even their kids think the elders are wasting money because they want that money for themselves. The DILs like their MILs with them when the child is small, so they try to take the benefit of MIL.

    The SELFISHNESS is on both ways.

    The possible solution is that the parents raise their kids with the value that they should be independent human beings. Never put this thought in their mind that what is ours is yours one day. Whatever parents earn they should keep it for themselves, and their Sons/Daughters to make their own life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think older people should have a life of their own and this having of life should start from the time when they were young and have their hands full. Every one should have something for them, some hobby and some self goals, which would help them live a happy life when they would have less of family responsibilities to fulfill.

    My mother for example do not have any self goals like learning a hobby, other than goals in her child’s life like marriage/child becoming parents. I find this extremely disturbing. The reason for this kind of lack of life of her own is the people around her who never gave her the support to flourish as an individual. She was made to understand that she has to sacrifice her wishes/ her life for her family. The drilling is so strong that she believes this crap to be true now and bitches about anybody who is going against this crap i.e. having a life of their own.
    I try desperately to get her involved in some hobby class or something. Things are improving albeit very slowly. But I am hopeful that she would be able to have an independent life and enjoy.


    • When you do take up a hobby and keep yourself occupied you become the butt of jokes. That’s what happened to me. I kid you not. When a relative saw me with my camera, he was like, open-mouthed with astonishment. He couldn’t stop talking about it to everyone, and not in a nice manner either, that he finds it amusing (*loud guffaws*) that I have taken up photography “at my age” and a “woman” too. Living your own life is something these people can never understand. Your old age should revolve around children, cook for them, worry for them, wait for them, talk endlessly about them, miss them, shed a few tears about the ‘generation of today’ and boast of how things were in our days, feed everyone in sight, go to temples, lament about arrogant DILs and sons who now listen to them… these are some of the things old people in India are supposed to do.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That is so great you took up photography !The person who commented on you must not be having any hobbies of his own !
        You know many young people I know have no hobbies,…they can’t seeing movies and going to KFC as hobby ! I was aghast !
        I am convent educated and when I was in school we had arts and craft as proper subjects !that is where I learned basics of painting, sewing,knitting, crochet !
        Now,I came to know the new private schools do not teach these skills at all ! Ah well, creativity and doing things with your hands take a nosedive !


      • Forget old age. When I (I am 33) took up learning Japanese, everyone was on my case asking what the need was. Errr… there was no need. It’s a HOBBY! Looks like I am supposed to work more hours and earn more money than to waste my time learning languages. And oh, if I DO learn a language, then it should just help me earn more money.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Touche!
          I was recently asked by someone I know how I could “waste” so much money on a camera instead of “utilizing” it to get a certification that could’ve helped me get a better salary. WTF?


      • i though thats one of the best hobby as one gets older, in nature, calming, not too stenous, yet fun and beautiful. whats not to like. it’s perfect and you atake the most beautiful bird pics 🙂


      • Shail, I am happy to hear you continued with your hobby.
        I can share my mother’s story, she is a working woman. But does not have any interests or any social circle so to say. Her life revolves around what we do and what happens.
        Few months back she mentioned that she wanted to learn to sing and we forced her to have a tutor who can come home and teach her. Trust me 4 months down the line, she actually told me last weekend that it was the best decision and she wonders why she did not go for it earlier. But strangely, a lot of females of her own age actually do no approve of her. Because she is a female and she should have too much household work to do to keep her busy and if thats not the case basically she is not a doing her job properly.

        Good thing is she is now convinced that this is good for her and she will continue, All i can say is that i see her happier and content!!


  7. “Maybe it’s not just the elderly – we seem to disapprove of enjoyment”

    Ha ha…totally. I think that’s the underlying principle governing most Indian customs.

    4-13 yrs: Why are you playing? You should be striving to be first in your class.

    13-18yrs: Why are you socialising/doing anything extra curricular? You should be worrying about your future.

    18-22 yrs: Why are you taking it easy? You should be looking for a job.

    22-28 yrs: How long will you work and enjoy your money? You should get serious & get married.

    a. If not in a relationship: Why did you not find someone of your own?Enough fooling around.Now you have to be responsible and get married to who we choose.
    b.If in a relationship: Why did you find someone on your own? Enough fooling around.
    Now you have to be responsible and get married to who we choose.

    28-35 yrs: Simply having fun eh? MAKE BABIES!!!

    35-50 yrs: Your children are your reason for living.

    50-end: How can you be so laidback? Go forth and do unto others as has been done to you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • That’s a beautiful synopsis of The Life of an Indian Man / Woman. It really starts quite young. We are never taught critical thinking or problem solving skills. In fact, the more dependent we are on others, the better everyone likes it. We are never taught to question. Instead, the focus is on blind obedience, whether it is to parents or teachers or any other person in authority. ‘Respect’ is equated with unquestioning obedience. And even if you question, there is the ubiquitous ‘aisa hi hota hai’. In other words, ‘shut up and don’t ask questions as I don’t have answers but I intend to make you follow this stupid tradition as I too did and I would feel foolish if you showed me up’. This stuff is brainwashed into kids quite early, and then they grow up and continue the nonsense.


      • Agreed with you Fem, My parents told my Aunt and Uncle that I want to go abroad, marry my own choice, do the job where I want etc. and my Uncle replied : “Our daughter is very nice, not at all like your daughter”, whenever we ask, “we marry you in a village”, she says : “yes as you like” whenever we ask,” we marry you in a city” she says “yes as you like”. ”

        AND I just wondered, is it really the example of nice 22 years old person? Who doesn’t have a mind of her/his own is he really a nice person?


        • “We are never taught critical thinking or problem solving skills. In fact, the more dependent we are on others, the better everyone likes it.”
          Critical thinking & ‘problem solving’ are so alien to this culture it isn’t even taught at university level in India.


        • We have a lot of derogatory words for boys who are too submissive and vacillating – but some how that very same spinelessness and lack of identity in girls is seen as nice.

          Liked by 1 person

    • LoL.
      My fav is 28-35 yrs.MAKE BABIES.
      I mean, total strangers who have nothing to gain from your pregnancy, will suggest this.
      If I may add to the last point,oldies are asked to read Ramayan daily.


  8. //need to//

    i.e. atomistic existence should be the norm and deep interdependence -including emotional interdependence – is bad for everyone.

    Put that way disagreeing would be easier, atleast to the extent of “each to his own”.

    In the above cases, as long as the individuals feel strongly enough about ‘each have their own lives’ they can counter the societal pressures. But the societal expectations, pressures exists to preserve the certain structures and obligations – which, I understand is what is sought to be dismantled. Those who see value in them are apprehensive about dismantling something that cannot be rebuilt in individual cases that want them. As opposed to individuals deviating when they feel strongly enough about it.

    A sidenote: it is reductive to talk of obligations as something necessarily bereft of gentler emotions – as is always done when discussing this. This is hardly ever the case. By repeating this over and over one seeks to illegitimize expectations and worse – even demean parental love itself if it were admixed with expectations of any sort.

    However, it is notable that in these advocacies of intergenerational independence, the mutual emotional responsibilities and reciprocal obligations for a married couple receive greater sanction and much needed encouragement.

    So, pretty much the question is – what is the definition of the familial unit.
    And there, each to his own.

    But no.
    Instead of each family finding its balance, there is a gradual building of the view that, in one’s older age, rather being an active member of the household – functionally, emotionally and what not, one HAS TO find some other surrogate activity: knit, join a book club, take math tuitions, do gardening, read ramayana and generally stay in the fringe.

    Perhaps one should imbibe such a view as the ONLY legitimate one, so one can better handle one’s own eventual deracination.


    • ‘each family finding its balance’

      What about parents who have daughters and no sons? They don’t and never have and the option of finding their balance. Society demands that their daughters move away.. and in many cases that they not go back to visit frequently of offer support. They have never had this option of being a functional and emotional part of their children’s homes.

      So while you seem to be saying that independent living should not be a compulsion, it already IS for many parents. Their fault that they gave birth to girls and for this they are punished. So no, each family does not find it’s balance even now and never has in a collectivist society like in India. Society has decided the hierarchy and the ones with sons are rewarded at the top.

      This is unacceptable to me as a woman and should be unacceptable to all humans who claim to be egalitarian in any sense. It’s not a matter of ‘to each their own’ because this privilege is only available to parents of sons.

      Liked by 4 people

      • True.
        But that doesn’t urge one to illegitmize involvement as interference.

        If one were honestly ruing the lopsided-less of that equation, one would seek to find ways to change that.

        So I am guessing you invoked this to point out how the status quo – unacceptable even in its intrinsic structure of not enabling unfettered agency to a couple – also happens to be imbalanced in privileging one set of parents.

        To be fair to those who urge ‘hands off older ones it is our turn now’, their urging is addressed to both set of parents (atleast on the face of it) . That assertion proceeds from a strong yen for individualism, a notion of near inviolable primacy of individual’s concerns and viewing attendant institutions from a simply utilitarian perspective, to be cast-aside were they to retard – let alone prevent– individual considerations.

        IMO there is nothing axiomatic in the assertion that the appetite for all flavours of independence is universal.

        Coming back to your point, one could always give an example of many many anecdotal cases of maternal grandparents living with and having a say in the familial decisions. But they are exceptions which cannot be elevated to be the rule.

        But, the concept of norm and exception is precisely what I am speaking of.
        Whether one is to be intent on dismantling of a norm or push for progress with a greater acceptance of the exceptions.

        Building a reductive vocabulary that renders as antithetical, the ‘emotional’ and ‘transactional’ aspects of relationship is unhelpful. It fails to engage with the complexity that in EVERY relationship, there will be give-and-take, emotional obligations, expectations of behavior (and the resultant disappointment, disheartening) precisely because of the closeness.

        Whether this is acceptable or not in an era– seems to be based on the definition of the familial unit in that are – which is what is in flux (and at the core of this discussion). There is no consensus, nor can there be any ‘one rule fits all’ universalization of this.


        • “Whether one is to be intent on dismantling of a norm or push for progress with a greater acceptance of the exceptions.”

          Yes but realistically the only way both man and woman are capable of supporting or living with their parents is if they build their ‘own’ home and unit. It’s obviously not going to happen in a society where women are largely expected to move in with husband’s family.. their parents cannot be expected to move lives into their in-laws house you see. So we must first move away from the current ‘joint family’ structure to allow room for more inclusiveness for both sets of parents as needed.

          Secondly, ‘There is no consensus, nor can there be any ‘one rule fits all’ universalization of this’ is false. Societies do not function without universalisation to some extent. Almost all major life events are universalised at the moment (they happen to be patriarchal).. it is universalisation that leads to normalisation.. so it is in fact valid to discuss matters in a general sense. Ofcourse people are free to be exceptions, but it is the rule that must be changed for real change.


        • “Of course people are free to be exceptions, but it is the rule that must be changed for real change.”

          True. And if enough exceptions, they begin to be seen as the norm!


      • True.
        But that doesn’t urge one to illegitmize involvement as interference.

        If one were honestly ruing the lopsided-less of that equation, one would seek to find ways to change that.

        So I am guessing you invoked this to point out how the status quo – unacceptable even in its intrinsic structure of not enabling unfettered agency to a couple – also happens to be imbalanced in privileging one set of parents.

        To be fair to those who urge ‘hands off older ones it is our turn now’, their urging is addressed to both set of parents (atleast on the face of it) . That assertion proceeds from a strong yen for individualism, a notion of near inviolable primacy of individual’s concerns and viewing attendant institutions from a simply utilitarian perspective, to be cast-aside were they to retard – let alone prevent– individual considerations.

        IMO there is nothing axiomatic in the assertion that the appetite for all flavours of independence is universal.

        Coming back to your point, one could always give an example of many many anecdotal cases of maternal grandparents living with and having a say in the familial decisions. But they are exceptions which cannot be elevated to be the rule.

        But, the concept of norm and exception is precisely what I am speaking of.
        Whether one is to be intent on dismantling of a norm or push for progress with a greater acceptance of the exceptions.

        Building a reductive vocabulary that renders as antithetical, the ‘emotional’ and ‘transactional’ aspects of relationship is unhelpful. It fails to engage with the complexity that in EVERY relationship, there will be give-and-take, emotional obligations, expectations of behavior (and the resultant disappointment, disheartening) precisely because of the closeness.

        Whether this is acceptable or not in an era– seems to be based on the definition of the familial unit in that are – which is what is in flux (and at the core of this discussion). There is no consensus, nor can there be any ‘one rule fits all’ universalization of this.


        • I think the discussion here is focussed on a specific type of relationship between older parents and adult children ,one which is extremely common in India where:

          1. There is enormous social pressure to live according to the rules and traditions of the parents,regardless of whether or not the children believe in the same.
          These include day to day routines which have nothing whatsoever to do with health & wellbeing of anyone involved.

          2. The primary focus is on the emotions & (sometimes irrational)desires of the parents – and the wishes of anyone else in the family are ALWAYS secondary- even if the matter at hand directly impacts the second party.

          3. There is constant emotional blackmail to ensure that status quo is maintained.

          “But that doesn’t urge one to illegitmize involvement as interference.”
          Wanting to be part of your children’s lives, providing them with support (& gaining support in return) and wanting to spend time together in shared activities is involvement.
          Insisting that your children & their families live according to your rules only & passing judgement on their everyday lifestyle choices is interference.

          ” Building a reductive vocabulary that renders as antithetical, the ‘emotional’ and ‘transactional’ aspects of relationship is unhelpful. It fails to engage with the complexity that in EVERY relationship, there will be give-and-take, emotional obligations, expectations of behavior (and the resultant disappointment, disheartening) precisely because of the closeness.”

          There is something called a toxic relationship. In India for some reason we think it is restricted to bitchy friends and insane lovers. It can (very sadly) extend to blood relations. Any relationship which severely restricts one’s room for growth, and one’s expression(and thereby one’s well being) is toxic.

          “There is no consensus, nor can there be any ‘one rule fits all’ universalization of this.”
          There is one governing rule for any healthy relationship – best summarized by live & let live.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Carvaka, I understand your “it is either both or neither – right now” stand. While I still disagree, I understand that is likely because of the variance in our relative palatability of the intermediate states till we get to whatever is the ideal end-state. I guess that’s bad enough 🙂

          Anita – ‘live and let live’ – is a bit of a motherhood statement; which is easy to agree with but is a lot more subjective than it sounds.
          I am not confident that the labels of personal and familial realms are immutable (over time) and objective. What is a personal choice in an emotionally proximate relationship and whether it is appropriate for one to feel impacted by the other’s decision – is far far from universal. They are personal choices and which are familial changes over time – even with one’s own lifetime. And these changes too vary from family to family, based on the equations. At a later stage of relationship something may not seem like an intrusion than it may have seemed earlier.

          I get that such broad brush strokes are necessary given the context of the issues generally discussed, in this blog. Without these one cannot quite discuss anything substantive. It was just that, the emergent consensus – preempted by the wording in your post- was tending towards a PoV that ALL people SHOULD necessarily seek their identities from elsewhere and not from family – that felt a little too broad a prescription.

          I don’t think I have anything further to add.


        • Uh-Oh, thanks I find its hugely positive to understand where the other is while agreeing to disagree. I appreciate a mature discussion when I see it. 🙂


        • i dont think that, i think people can get their identities form anywhere , family too if thats what they want but they should not expect the others to get their identity from the same place , do what you want and dont restrict others. if say my mum wants to stay home and cling to me thats ok. but she cant expect me to reciprocate. im there sometime , im not sometime and she cannot control my identity. hobbies are just a way to divert the mind.


    • I agree. Saying parents should have a life of their own can be interpreted as a positive and modern comment… or as the harsh comment of busy self centered children who don’t want to take care of parents and accept them as they are (or have become). And I plead guilty of having said such comments before.

      It seems to me parents are loveable and annoying at any age, and so are children… but doesn’t that keep us grounded and force us to think again ? I am reaching the age now when I asked my mum to take care of my first baby, and I am surprised to compare what I thought about her at the time to what I am feeling now… So now when she tells me what she wants to do, I just keep this little doubt at the bottom of my mind, that maybe there is something I am not old enough to understand… yet. 😉

      There is a stage in life when one has to help one’s parents, but I think in these times one shouldn’t become a parent to one’s parents, there is a subtle understanding to find.


      • Sometimes children do not want the parents to have a life of their own. The children grow up in the same society that views dependence, sacrifice and duty as love.

        I am not sure parents need necessarily be annoying … why would that be? Just wondering. Mostly I suppose if there are control issues then naturally there would be annoyance. Otherwise?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t know if I can put my thoughts into english… When you are a small child, parents are all for you, they provide food, shelter, love, and normal children will feel a mix of gratitude and resentment. The child is always pushing the limits and trying to gain more autonomy until he becomes a fully functional adult. The parents are protecting the child from society and helping the child adjust to it.

          Teenagers are very good to make their parents feel annoying and useless 😉

          Even when you become a parent or grand-parent yourself, your parents are still ahead of you, giving advice, comments and insights you would accept from no one else, apart from your partner maybe. Parents, in a healthy relationship, are useful boundaries and reminders to come back to your senses. Boundaries are frustrating but some are necessary. When one’s parents get very old and ultimately die, then one has to find the boundaries in oneself. It’s been bothering me lately.

          I give you an example. Last time I saw my mother, I was very tired and tense because of a work situation, and she asked me if I was taking vitamins. It was really annoying. However, it reminded me I always feel tense at this time of year. Similarly I annoy her when I ask if she saw the doctor, and I annoy my kids when I give them advice.

          Would you say we have control issues ? I don’t know.


        • I think in this instance, in the context of Indian Culture, control issues are far deeper.

          You probably remember me from a previous blig post about divorce.

          As I had said earlier, my mother-in-law disapproves of me and refuses to have anything to do with me.

          When we got married six months ago, my husband was 49, I was 42.

          Yet it took my husband two years to convince his mother to not oppose the marriage.

          During this time, she went on week-long hunger strikes, left home and refused to return all in a bid to prevent the marriage.

          She has only met me once, and you’d laugh if I told you that she disapproves of me because I have an hour-long yoga regimen every morning.

          In her eyes, a woman who’s so fixed on yoga in the morning will have no time to cook.

          THAT’S why she’s obstinately insisted on disliking me. Of course, the real reason is that she’s outraged that her son chose his own wife, even at 49.

          Her other fear? That her son would neglect her once he got married.

          For many years, my husband went along with her desires, out of filial duty. He endured loneliness despite desperately wanting a companion, because his mother would a fit if he broached the subject with her.

          THAT’S where a lot of us come from when we criticise the older generation.

          Many refuse to allow their children to exercise basic freedoms, like wanting to marry

          Liked by 1 person

        • Here we are discussing interference in the Indian context, where it tends to be extreme. Parents decide at birth what profession you will enter, which caste you will marry into, sometimes even the person you will marry (a certain relative’s child). They continue this level of extreme and intense interference throughout your life – what you must wear, how you must behave, who you are friends with, where you go, whether you should even step out or not. After all your childhood and youth is spent under this control, it’s still not over if you are a woman. You never EVER get to be an adult – it continues at your in-laws house who will decide when you will go and visit your parents, what you will wear, what to cook, when to shower, and what gifts to bring back from your parents’ home. Some of us are lucky and some of us are changing but this is the sad reality for large parts of the population.
          In the Western culture – parents in general setting boundaries for kids, kids finding parents annoying – all of this is on a completely different level from what happens in India. 2 different animals altogether. It’s like comparing some level of natural conflict between any husband and wife to what happens in an abusive marriage.


        • Yet again in the West, if you come from a Jewish or Italian background or if your parents have control issues, or mental health issues, you may have to fight for your emotional independance for a long time.

          The questions is why don’t Indian children fight for their independance when they grow up ? What is preventing them to lead their own life if not boundaries they build in their heads ?


        • Agree with the first paragraph. Many kids would not like if their parents were ‘unconventional’.

          It’s not that parents are annoying, parents are always loving and caring but what they perceive as love and care can be an issue at times.
          And it is equally about the parents as well. People who have a live of their own, have hobbies and can be on their own are usually happier and lead a more fulfilling life.


  9. Pingback: of yardsticks and conformity | Anawnimiss

  10. This comment is by Mr Vishwanath Gopalkrishna, submitted via email.

    There is one option for old people none of you have discussed and which I am considering.

    And that is moving into a modern Retirement home (note, Retirement home, not old age home!)

    I am 65. Both my children are abroad. I am not expecting them to give up their careers and return to India just to take care of me and my wife.

    I am now in the early stages of retired life and enjoying every moment of it. My laptop and the internet keeps me busy and gainfully occupied for several hours every day.

    I do my early morning Yoga and take long evening walks. I help my wife in the kitchen and I do all the odd jobs around the house.

    I run errands for my wife. I chauffeur her around when she wants to be taken out.

    I read, I watch movies. I listen to music. I don’t miss any opportunity to attend weddings or any social occasions when invited.

    While I have retired from my profession, I still keep in touch and occasionally grab any opportunity to do something part-time without too much responsibility and tension. A couple of years ago, I helped an American company. They gave me a three month contract and my job was to guide and help their International marketing executive who came to India for the first time to scout for customers for their product aimed at a specific industry (which was my line of specialization). I used my old professional contacts, and toured the country with him and identified potential customers for him on whom he could unleash his marketing blitz. During leisure hours, I was also his translator and tourist guide and kept him amused with stories about India and our politics, language, and culture which he thoroughly enjoyed. It was good while it lasted! I toured the country with him, and stayed in the best hotels, all at that American company’s expense. They paid me a monthly retainer in dollars for the three month contract period apart from meeting all the expenses.

    I have now been engaged by the same company I owned and managed and later sold upon my retirement. The new owner has retained me on a temporary contract to train new recruits and initiate them into the profession. I spend two hours every day teaching them the basics. The senior executives are too busy with projects, deadlines and schedules and have no time (and specially no patience!) for hand holding and getting these youngsters to becoming productive quickly. I accepted this responsibility. I declined any formal position in their company’s hierarchy, and insisted I would be an outsider. I stayed out of the company’s projects, and thus avoided any responsibility for quality, schedules and delivery and am a detached observer and help only when asked. It is a temporary contract but it breaks the monotony. My wife is also glad to have me out of the house for these two to three hours every day! I am going to enjoy it while it lasts. The money isn’t much, but it doesn’t matter to me now.

    I know this won’t last forever. Health nowadays is not what it used to be. In the past three years I have been in and out of ICUs twice. I am moving around with a couple of stents in my heart. For six months I was bed ridden with a severe knee problem. I could not walk. These were the developments that forced my retirement. Mercifully I have overcome all that now and am in much better health. But I know with each passing year it is only going to be a “downhill” journey and I want to be prepared for it.

    I have booked my place in a posh retirement home that is coming up 40 Km out of the city of Bangalore where I live. It will take three years at least to be ready. Medical care will be available round the clock. The daily hassles of household management will be over. There will be no kitchen. That’s half the problem solved. No servants. No cleaning. Everything will be taken care of by the Administration, and that includes security, travel needs, ticketing, banking, errands to the city etc. etc. We will eat in a common dining hall. An experienced organization will manage the home and take care of us and keep us amused with activities for the elderly for which special facilities have been planned. The entire building and the apartments are designed to be “elderly friendly”. Ramps, wide doors, slip resistant floors, grip bars for holding on to, emergency buttons to press etc etc. An ambulance, a doctor and a nurse will be in readiness round the clock and an Assisted Living Centre for those who become bed ridden is located just a few yards away. A modern hospital will be just five minutes away.

    I spoke to the children about this proposal and they concurred after I explained and convinced them that this is the best thing for me in the future. While I don’t need to move in right now, I am sure I will need it a few years down the line. How many years? I don’t know but I would rather go there now before time than after it becomes overdue. After I move in there, I propose to make that my headquarters, and keep a suitcase ready to pack, and travel wherever I want, including visiting my children wherever they are.

    I am hoping this becomes the norm for everyone in future , at least for those who can afford it.

    I don’t want this to be an advertisement for the promoters of this Retirement home and so won’t take any names here but if any one is interested in knowing more, please email me privately. My address can be obtained by clicking on my handle.



    Liked by 5 people

    • As always, GV says it brilliantly. A couple of couples (relatives) I know are doing this. And they seem to be enjoying the independence. We’ll be doing the same 25-20 years down the line. A bunch of us (colleagues, ex-colleagues, friends) are child-free couples, and hopefully, we’ll be part of community like that in our old age, because we obviously won’t have anyone to care for us (without financial reimbursement, at least :D).


    • I was waiting for GV ji’s comment. Super cool dad that he is, he’d have the best solution to what all of us should do in our old age so that our empty minds may not turn into devil’s workshops!

      I will definitely be taking the name of that retirement home from you for 40 yrs hence 😉

      You know how people say that don’t do things at 20’s that you’d be ashamed of in your 60’s, I have one more, don’t do things in your 60’s that would have shamed ur 20’s self and having a life is not one of them!


      • Nice thought by GV Ji.

        Why we hate retirement home I don’t understand. Everyone loves to live with their peer group only.Whether its kid, adult or old. My sister son never wants to miss his school because of his friends, in college days I use to miss my hostel within one week but if the older people by their own will want to stay with their peer then ASAM PHAT JAEGA , DHARTI DOL JAEGE. How, why etc etc will start. In these kind of places which GV Ji has mentioned , older people will find their friends will do stuff which they love to do but happiness is against Indian culture.

        I will tell my Bua’s (Father elder sister)situation. She use to live in same colony in which we are living and was working woman. After retirement , no major work . so in afternoon she use to come to my home. There she use to spend time with my Grandma, mom and other aunties. They use to have walk. Go around till main road for some shopping or even time pass. She has some other friends , sometimes use to go to her school.

        But doomsday came for her. Her children uprooted her from the place she always was and shifted to Noida. There she lives with my brother and sister is near by. Most of time my sister use to send her kid to her home. But she didnt enjoyed it every time because her energy does not matches up with my nephew and she will feel exhausted within 2-3 hrs.So really elder people don’t enjoy with kids as much as we think. My brother is gone for complete day. Nobody is there with whom she can even talk. None of her age group is there with whom she can befriend. And in later stage its very difficult to open up with people and make new friends. She goes for evening and morning walk , have some hi -hello also but she feel lonely as she can not go to anybodys home and can chat or share her feelings. Temptation for living with her children (as all my cousin are in noida) moved her to Noida.She says that she regret that she moved from home place but she has resigned to her fate.

        Moving age old people out of their native is the worst kind of abuse. Ideal situation would have been that she kept base in her hometown and can visit Noida whenever she wants to. My family would have taken care of her if she fell ill till the time her children can come from Noida. but who trust relatives, so for children and sudden health issues she moved to lonely Noida.

        Great Indian Culture Wins again. Parents are taken care by son , how does it matter that my Bua is still unhappy living there.


    • GV-ji Are you my dad posting under a fake name? 🙂 You sound exactly like him most of the times. My dad still does consulting work on and off and he’s not dependent on his children in any way but I think he has a few more stents than you…

      Glad to hear from you again. Let us all know about that retirement home. My parents have been searching too!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. One of the things that makes India a unique country is the fact that elders are given respect. Children are conditioned from a young age to take the responsibility of their parents in their old age. Is it a rule that a man must let his parents live with them until their death? Unfortunately, the society doesnt give respect to individual opinions and privacy factors. All that matters is a new topic for gossip “Some guy in the family left his mom to live alone! He is so insensitive!”
    There a huge fear of “insult and gossip” factor hidden behind all this.


    • “that elders are given respect”

      If being given respect means living with your parents and providing personal care, what about girls’ parents? By this measure, one of the things that makes India unique is a HUGE sexist difference in respect for boy’s parents and girl’s parents.

      Why? What’s special about boys, honestly? As long as we accept this as a positive way of being, all those ‘save the girl child’ and ‘educate the girl child’ posters are useless. The system is skewed and people will continue to reward male-births and detest female-births.

      Seeing as men and women are not both allowed to ‘respect’ their parents in this way, it only makes sense to find an alternative. It’s either that or continuing with misogyny and this hell for women. An independent couple unit can provide care for both or either sets of parents as needed but a ‘joint family’ unit can only ever care for the son’s parents. It’s fundamentally wrong.

      All these discussions about join families and the respect they offer old people completely forget that it’s only true for the half the population. Or more than half because we’ve managed to kill enough girls to skew that ratio.

      Liked by 2 people

      • So very true. Infact I was just watching Emma Watson’s speech just before I read your comment.
        Personally I am a girl and the only child to my parents. I am seriously concerned about their old age and how my in-laws react when they stay with me. Luckily my husband is in support of all of this & I have made things clear to him from Day 1.

        “All these discussions about join families and the respect they offer old people completely forget that it’s only true for the half the population. Or more than half because we’ve managed to kill enough girls to skew that ratio.”

        You are so very right. This has to seriously stop (makes my blood boil)


    • I have to disagree with your first line here.
      Elders get respect everywhere around the world, not just in India.
      Elders get respect in India not because they have earned it, but just because they are older, which does not fall in the realm of common sense. Even if the elders are manipulating, blackmailing bullies.


  12. “Older people” is just a tag here, won’t you agree? For, the same people when they were younger, do you imagine they had a life of their own then? Those who did when they were young are still living out their twilight years beautifully. I am actually friends with a whole lot of amazing oldies who wouldn’t cringe at being called so and would put my 30 years to shame with their great outlook, activities, optimism, and the ability to bring happiness to others. It’s not about the age, my friend, it’s about the mind. These “oldies”, these particular oldies you refer to are the product of that very stringent view of a very flawed culture that thrives on control. That’s all they’ve seen, that’s all they’ve learnt, that’s all they have done, that’s all they’ll ever do. They will never question it, they won’t allow you to question it either because that would destroy a system that works beautifully for them. At any point of your life, why would you accept a deal that would leave you worse off! – Suppose they started opening up to your need for independence, wouldn’t they be left alone? to fend for themselves when they want a cup of water or a cup of tea? Suppose they started “allowing” DILs to financially support their own parents, wouldn’t it reduce their share? You tell me, does it not make sense to stick to a system that works for them? They stick to it because their comfort, their status, their sense of power, etc matter to them more than seeing others happy around them. This attitude is not about age, then. It’s about culture and upbringing.
    I see around me a whole lot of new-age elderlies whose sense of self, independence, and disdain for such traditions is totally delightful and disarming. I am going to be one such myself. 🙂
    If I had a word for people such as the original LW, it’d be, “run, Lola, run”.


  13. My opinion of being controlled by parents is completely different.
    It could be great to live in family where Parents themselves lived their life based on morals.It would be great to to raise progeny under guidance of grand parents which could provide their vital sound knowledge of life and their experiences. Such families are respected naturally . Such families would provide more happiness to life with ease of living and maintenance.

    We need to understand that such families could not able to build if Parents themselves are not worth to live upon morals. Or children isn’t raised in proper values which matches with them. It is also not possible if grand parents expecting the morals from their children which they never followed themselves. Many times i have came to conclusion is that the nature isn’t damages with age.(for eg. It is not true that every older person has to become messy with age). Otherwise there is common scenario is seen that older people becomes too much demanding and they don’t even think that they have never completed the wish of their elders which they are expecting from their children.


  14. Leave aside the debate on joint living, monentary support, parents of sons, daughters ,sexism etc., and it comes right down to, – every individual adult should be able to live the life they want without interfearence. from anyone – parent, child, society etc.,
    So irrespective of if older people choose to be busy, free, have hobbies whatever, however they were forced to live, the cycle needs to break, the strings have to be cut and thats when we will progress inthe right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A clarification regarding my comment:
    A lot of people understood my comment to mean that older people should live separately when I said they need to have a life of their own. This may or not not be relevant as I think that living alone and having a life of one’s own are two different things.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was just wondering that why does “life of one’s own” have to be “house of one’s own”. My MIL lives with Mister and I, but we are not the be-all and end-all of her life. She reads, writes, listens to music, keep abreast of current affairs, meets people from her circle, she prays. Predictably enough, she has no time or energy to “interfere” in our lives. She’s just happy having us around, as are we.
      Life is so much simpler this way!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ‘life of one’s own’ doesn’t NEED to have ‘house of one’s own’. But not all MILs(ILs in general) are like yours. You guys seem to live like 3 adult in a family (I read your blog and love it) but most don’t. For most couples, physical distance is a necessity to establish a degree of freedom. This blog has many examples of how even that doesn’t help. This is just a solution for the masses, the real one is finding such a MIL-Husband combo and you have found one. For me, the MIL is a pain, DH thankfully is an adult, in his words “he is old enough to do parenting and too old to be parented”. Even then we have to keep distance while living in the same city. 3 months that we tried to live with her were full of ‘do some cooking’ if I didn’t or ‘ u r trying to break up the kitchen’ if I did. Even now when she comes over, she starts rearranging things in our house to which DH goes all Mr. Knightly on her and says “only one Mrs. DH makes changes to this house”

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can understand where you’re coming from, and you’re right, it is the reality of many young couples. I have given the ‘move away’ advice to several people on IHM’s blog.

          My comment was mostly targeted at old people – because they are the ones that seem to be interfering – in their children’s lives, in their neighbors’ lives, in their relatives’ lives.It is mostly older people that are found rudely commenting on how such-and-such is taking up hobbies instead of taking care of grandchildren – “yeh bhi koi umar hai yeh sab karne ki, is umar mein to satsang karna chahiye” is mostly an old people’s thing, right?


  16. Great post Maltaj, you put it beautifully. If elders had fulfilling lives of their own, they would not have the need to control their adult children, who would then have the freedom to find out what makes them genuinely happy. If elders were as self-reliant as GV is, then they would not have grudges when their d-i-l buys herself something. But as others have pointed out, this programming starts early. The elders, even when they were younger, never had a life of their own. They were never asked, ‘What makes you happy? What do you really want to do?’ They were told to do things that benefited others and they did them. Now they think it’s their turn to benefit from this system that runs on control. If you give up control you lose your benefits. This is what they’ve seen from a very young age. So they desperately hang on to that control and make other people’s lives miserable and they themselves are not happy either.
    We need to break this cycle. Hopefully this generation will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The decision to break this cycle does indeed lie with this generation.
      They can choose to:
      1. Give their parents what they want and give the freedom they desired to their children, thus becoming the lost generation that will err.. suffer on both ends OR
      2. Give up on parents, take the hit and blame there) and live life to make themselves happy and hence be happier to pass that freedom on to the next generation
      But knowing how successfully ‘sacrifice’ leads to bitterness and harassment of next generation when grandparent interfere with the lives of grandchildren too, option 1 is very dangerous, we will have to take option 2 and make the most of it. To hell with the loag!


      • Point # 2 is especially hard to do.

        My husband and his have a difficult time getting along with my mother-in-law.

        The old lady is stubborn, irate, sharp-tongued and and endlessly bitter about life.

        She’s had a moderately comfortable life. Her husband worked hard all his life to providing for the family.

        My husband and his sister are wonderful people; kind, generous and tolerant to a fault.

        My husband is 49. His sister is 55. My mother-in-law is 76.

        Yet, they can never get anything right. During our honeymoon, when my husband called home to check on his mother, she told her grandson to say that “her son was dead to her”.

        All this because he married a woman (me) that she disapproves of.

        I feel so sad when I see the way my mother-in-law treats her own children, whom she is completely dependent on, financially and emotionally.

        She throws tantrums, sulks, refuses to eat, curses her kids in moments of anger.

        She is the child in the family. Her grandchildren, who are in their 20s, call her every day to persuade her to calm down and not berate their uncle (my husband).

        In moments of anger, my husband wishes he could never see her again.

        Yet he and his sister feel compelled to take care of their mother, overlooking her abuse, because “she’s old and it’s our duty”.

        I don’t understand how you can reach the age of 76 and still be so full of anger, bitterness and pettiness.

        I look at my mother-in-law and promise myself that I will grow old gracefully, without causing hurt and misery to those around me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe she has a endocrine disorder ,..hormone fluctuations which can cause mood swings and chidchidapan ! Women post menopause have lot of problems sometimes !
          Hormone fluctuations of course affect younger lot too !
          Maybe you can disregard her bitterness and be the bigger person !
          Being the bigger person ,I find causes less stress to me ,I have learned over the years !
          Everyday I try to forgive and let go of the past !sometimes I succeed sometimes it doesn’t work !


  17. Yes, it is imperative for older people to find ways to keep themselves actively engaged in activities that are independent of their children’s (read son’s) lives.

    When a mother gives birth to a son, the entire family, even the woman, rejoices because they have found thier ‘Budhape ka sahara’. This is instilled, discussed and reinforced since day 1. I have seen it happening in my marriage where if my husband gets up to bring water or juice for the parents- they beam with pride and state how he is thier ‘sahara’ and look how much he is doing for them.

    All elderly people eventually need some form of support, most of all emotional. The issue lies in converting this ‘sahara’ into a national duty. A duty which needs to be monitored- thus controlled by them. There have to be updates given to them- for which there is always criticism and advice ready. There is nothing right which the son, daughter, and especially the daughter in law is doing right. There is a focus on cloning all around into themselves- rather than let individual personalities, interests and lifestyles thrive.

    Very, very few senior citizens I have come across who actually do anything significant outside of saas-bahu TV serials watching and talking about politics. Some do it because they cant due to physical limitations- but most do it because they feel that they “should” be doing nothing and now its time for others (Especially the son and daughter in law) to do thier ‘seva’. I would love to take care of older people I care about. But out of love- not obligation- not because I was ‘supposed to’- not because I want to earn ‘Seva brownie points’.

    That is, what I think, gives rise to modern day joint family issues of control, space invasion, no boundaries and general disruption of peace, in the mind and in the house.

    I have in laws who can do so many things- they are very well educated, are financially independent, in the pink of health vehemently opposing me and my husband move out and set up our own house, just a stone’s throw away from their place. They feel we, rather I, should do thier ‘seva’, update them on everything I do from the time I wake up so that they can critique/gossip/sulk about every single thing about me- be it the way I dress, manage the kitchen, professional growth to larger behavioural traits. This latest move of ours has added some new dialogues into the scene- ‘log kya kahenge’ ‘naak kat gayi’ apart from ‘hamari seva kaun karega’.

    If only they had the insight early on to keep themselves actively engaged and find sources of happiness outside their son and his wife, perhaps they would themselves need that space and independence-thus understand where I am coming from. They wouldnt have time to cook up stories to deal with the society and extended family about this new living arrangement that we are proposing. They would not be dependent on controlling our lives, to fulfill the empty spaces in the minds and lives.

    Kudos the people mentioned in the post – I would have been proud of your choices, and would have loved to have you as my Mother/Father In Law 😉 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • If sons and daughters do their work many parents beam with pride ,but dils and son in laws(whatever little they do in some very rare cases) do not get credit,acknowledgement or even a thank you !
      I think more elderly need to say thanks and say sorry too in India !We all make mistakes ,…Indians don’t say thank you much !
      Just a tangent observation !


    • I suggested an old mami of mine ,jokingly to let go of running household chores and daily management to her Dil and just help her , her face became small and she glared at me ! I went on and said her Dil is good person and maybe she should learn new things,do what she always wanted to do but didn’t have time earlier !
      She balked at my idea and grumbled ….,now I should do mehnat to learn new things ,what ! She was so violent about it that I stopped suggesting alternate things to cribbing old aunts,mamis etc !


  18. I’ve shared this before and I’ll share it again. My parents are in their late 70s. They still insist on living in their own home, no matter how much my sis has asked them to come and live with her. My sister lives close by and she is the go to person for any kind of situation due the physical proximity. My brother and I live farther away so we are there for financial and emotional support (frequent phone and skype calls). My dad is incredibly busy (has been all his life) with his stamp and coin collections, his photography, and he is quite the artist. He has recently discovered the internet so he uses wikipedia and youtube to learn more about his interests. My dad also is the President of the building association and loves enforcing rules that ensure that the building is properly maintained. My mom is very social and has lots of friends in the building. She goes shopping and to the movies with some of them. She loves Karnatic music and practices everyday. She is deeply involved in her domestic helper’s life who happens to have a very intelligent daughter and my mom makes sure she doesn’t drop out of school, pays her tuition, etc. She loves to cook and still insists on doing the cooking – she insists “it’s not much work as the domestic helper cuts the veggies and washes dishes so the before and after are taken care of, all I have to do is the middle, put on the tadka, that’s it”. She is best friends with my brother’s wife – this is something I’m really proud of. She not only makes mine and my sister’s favorites but also my s-i-l’s favorite dishes when we all visit. We all have a great time cooking together. When my s-i-l visits, she is truly one of us. My parents have shown me it IS possible for elders to have productive, happy, fulfilled, self-reliant lives without interfering in or controlling their children’s lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And then coming to my generation …. my husband and I give our kids (almost 16 and 12) lots of choices, allow them to make mistakes and teach them to be responsible. The focus is not on, “Who will you become to make me happy?” but “Who are you at the core? Find yourself. Go live the life of your dreams!” We will NOT dictate who they marry or what careers they pursue. Because as much as we love them both, we also want them to love themselves, be themselves, and be happy. We also have a life, interests, and passions that keep our minds occupied, so we don’t have to obsess on their trophies. And we enjoy a sense of control in our own personal lives that we don’t need to control our children to feel powerful or to feel that we matter.

      I know other friends (40s or around that) and their families (yes, Indian) that also think and act along these lines.
      On this blog, there are Shail, MR, Radha, and IHM who (I think) are somewhere in this age group with older (at least teen or older) kids, and think like this.
      If there are more, please come forward and share your stories. The next generation (people in their 20s to 30s) needs to hear these positive stories. There is definitely hope and things are changing for the better.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Agree 100%, we need to be very aware of this issue and not perpetuate it forward. We can only change some of the older gen, but we can change oursef 100% so the next gen doesnt face this issue.
        In my example my in-laws are v independent, i dont know if they have enough hobbies or what they do but my MIL has a pathalogical dislike to staying with DIL’s , her daughter stays close by, she doesnt go to her house either but my SIL provides the support for her. we help if required financially. She is a very sweet lady and very non0interfearing, a few of my relatives actually have an issue with that, they think either i did domething an dmy MIL hates me or she is a strange weird lady. actually its neither , she was tormented for the first 2 yrs of her married life her maid used her as a general pupose maid for a family of 10 . and she is the only child so that left a deep impact on her, when i got married she said 2 thngs.
        1. ‘ im so happy today, i dont have to worry my son has someone and he’s not alone – i always worried what if something happened to him or what if he has no one to talk to – now He’s off my worry list’
        2. ” i will never live with you guys, i like you and admire how you do stuff but i want to do things my way, but i would love to visit you and have you visit us’
        and this is the same rule she maintained with all 3 of us DIL’s , she doesnt even care about what we earn, how when, where we go etc., she is very interested in her grandkids lives, but non intrusive, she celebrates every victory, every A grade and consoles every C grade and tells my son, ‘ its not a must that you get a A+ but it’s a must you do your best ‘ she boosts their self esteem and mine too. for this i admire her . i wish i could be like her an dthis is after shes with my FIL who is mercurial and patriarchial.
        now if a 70yr old with no education from a small town with no exposure can do this , I hate to think why the rest cant.

        Liked by 1 person

        • What lovely words to say to your d-i-l, “I’m so happy today … my son has someone …. he is not alone.” What a healthy way of looking at the relationship between your son and his wife – as people who will be there for each other – gaining love rather than losing a son. And how empowered a m-i-l needs to be to be able to say that. If she had been encouraged to follow her own dreams, or if she was even aware of them, she can then wish the same for her d-i-l.


      • We don’t consider ourself retirement aged yet 🙂 old but not done. The boys are mid way thru their college and all settled, empty nesters and loving it. I love my boys but there is so much freedom in not being thee for them all the time, getting lunch brk fast, HW, classes whatnot. We enjoy setting the pace now, it feels like we are back to our no kids days. I can travel with him if I want, cut the workload a bit. Hit every art festival, wine tastings, We go to impromptu movies, dinners, walks, last weekend we took a short trip to goa. And in feb have a white water rafting trip planned. Hope I survive It is so easy to up and leave without worrying and accommodating 2 others 😌. Of course I love for them to come home during breaks, we have loads of fun and we are very happy to see them leave too. When kids are on their own and happy it feels like a job well done.
        So they are off, they will find their partners, get married or not, I’m ready to help if asked. Or im ok with just dressing up and dancing at the weddings too. But most of all we Re enjoying this 2 nd youth and will be selecting a fine retirement home with a bunch of friends in our later years.


  19. Ihm,
    For some unfathomable reason I am unable to post comments from my laptop.
    I tried every trick I know, but failed.
    This is a test to see if I can post a comment from the ipad that I have.
    I don’t use it any more. My wife uses it all the time.

    I have received a few enquiries for further information about this retirement home from some people who know my email address.
    Just in case others are interested, they can contact me at any of the following addresses
    gvshwnth AT yahoo DOT com
    geevishwanath AT gmail DOT com



      • Eureka!
        My laptop is okay now.
        I am now able to post a comment from my Primary Laptop which I use all the time.
        I tinkered with the Internet Explorer Advanced settings and and lo and behold my comments have started appearing again.

        For the informaiton of the techno savvy:
        In Internet Expolorer, I checked the box against : Tools/Internet Options/Advanced/TSL protocols.
        I don’t know what these settings mean, but I am glad everything works now.
        Earlier I was using Google Chrome and had no problem.

        Looking forward to participating more actively now.


  20. For sure – when people choose to do with the lives they are given, they have less time to live others’ vicariously. Most elderly I know aren’t wise, they are just old. They are neither interested or willing to develop themselves personally, including following their own advice to others! Imagine that irony!

    Several have no hobbies, nothing to occupy them that they enjoy – it is almost as if fun and enjoyment aren’t legal! They just have to sit and eat and do their routine in the wait to die after retirement. I think this concept of retiring at 60 has to go – people could just resign from one job and take up something else, maybe something that will challenge them mentally and take them out of their comfort zones. In this whole endeavor to be respectful, no one dares to tell people to well, grow up and butt out – elders being given advice, no that’s a one-way river, how dare we?!

    The few I see who have their own lives, stuff they have crafted for themselves are positive and happy, able to appreciate what they have when they have it, seeing that it isn’t the case for many around them. It has come home to me many times that ‘wise’ isn’t a function of age, it is a function of what people make with their life experience and other exposure. But hey, say this at your peril – every generation in India, yours included will jump and tear you from limb to limb.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The thought of the ancient people like our grand parents differ with those of ours actually and this trend is continuing from long back. They do not have the mind set to listen to current generations point of views. What we have to do is to make them understand, however I know that it is next to impossible still. Then too if they deny with our decisions then we can move forward according to us. And this problem is gradually becoming a great issue….


  22. Pingback: “Practically, what can an introvert DIL do to communicate that she means no disrespect by wanting her own time?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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