Dynamics of Relationship

between the Young and the Old in India

Change is a way of life. Life transforms perpetually. It is difficult to find any set pattern in this world except the pattern of continuous growth and movement. From a barbarian to the present day civilized man, human beings have always endeavored for something new and remote. But it seems that with the advent of machine and its innumerable and multiple forms, human society was never undergoing more drastic transformation. The implications of this machine phenomenon are wide and varied. It has completely changed our attitude towards life.

Intentions play a very important role in any long term relationship.

Man and his values, man and his relationships are all changing very fast. Materialism has hit us in a big way. Any other consideration except the materialistic one seems queer and funny. We are more skeptical than ever before. Man is self-encased. Every person thinks of himself. It has become out of date to look beyond one's own selfish interests. West and its progress, (or as some call it pseudo progress) are simply storming the world.

India, too is not untouched by these selfish, commercial and materialistic trends - India is definitely undergoing cultural crisis. Our feet are no longer on firm ground. Many of us do not know exactly what to do –'this is not done. This was never done' but at the same time, 'Now times have changed and it is done all over the world.' We shake, we hesitate.

Information inflow has increased miraculously. One often feels that even children are no longer children these days; they know everything. Earlier parents and teachers used to be the sources of information and knowledge for kids but now other means in the form of television, magazines, net and films are easily available. Children have easy access to such agencies from where their parents learn. Before coming to an appropriate age, children know almost everything. They know all about marriage, divorce, murder or rape, nothing stuns the present generation. Everything is done and can be done. A son can kill his father for property or a person can marry many times-all this and much more is there every day in newspaper or television. The present generation has no inhibitions and therefore no hesitations. 

In such an environment as this where every type of behavioral pattern has some kind of sanction, the relationship between the young and the old become a very interesting study. The hold of society is getting light and loose. Even if the immediate circle does not grant a particular kind of behavior, the individual gets the sanction through net, media or literature. The family has little grip over the individual; instead fashion, modernity, television, West and above all the present day omnipotent force MONEY are commanding the individual. The family is gradually becoming a disintegrated body. 

The old model of relationships can be called a bit too idealistic and impractical. The joint family system, as it existed earlier, demanded too much sacrifice on part of the individual. Personal freedom had little place. Children living with parents have to maintain too much decorum and discipline. Joint family system in its prior from, was basically pro-old. It seems, the younger lot, especially the females had to keep on obeying for a long time before being able to command. The husband- wife relationship had little chance to flourish. Collective will dominated the individual will. 

Now the scene is different. Earlier, most of the people had no regular and official job. Duties were performed collectively by all members of the family. Every member, young or old had his share of work. Now, after education, children usually get into job. Many times, that job is at a new place. Parents have no utility or role at that new place. Younger women today are not ready to sacrifice. Women in a family and society, at large, play an important role in maintaining harmonious relationship between the young and the old. 

Even today, there are certain families who maintain the joint system. In many families, the young and the old are living together. But if we go to the root of the matter, we will find that it is money that binds people. Many children obey their parents, not due to any feeling but because parents have property and money. They are hypocritical. Many grown up children are nothing but parasites and so they have no option but to respect their parents and live with them. 

One the whole, the relationship between the young and the old does not seem to be very good. In fact, these relations have deteriorated so much that even old age homes have come into existence. Even people who have many sons and daughters have to go to these homes in their old age. The question is why such a culturally strong country like ours is facing this situation of incompatibility between the young and the old. 

Intentions play a very important role in any long term relationship. Sometimes the older generation shows a deep desire to dominate. They start using kids as puppets. It is true that some parents want to interfere in their child's life to an unjustified extent. After a certain age, every individual has a right to decide his course of action. If he wants, he/she must be given autonomy to choose his clothes, food, friends, job, spouse etc. It is a fact that Indian parents try to bulldoze things a little too for. To be true, every healthy minded person should know that his/her desires are his own and it is no use forcing those desires on someone else. Any healthy relationship demands space. Relationships should, in fact, add to the individual's life and not curtail its horizons. Suffocation leads to rebellion. Moreover, a bit of understanding will go a long way in improving this relationship. Thomas Carlyle said, "The end of understanding is not to prove and find reasons, but to know and believe." It is better to accept things positively rather than to obstinately keep on trying to tame and mould others. 

Earlier, the word of the older generation was considered law. It was believed that whatever comes from a white haired person is true and correct. But now, the younger generation knows what is right and what is not. The young often express themselves freely. Anyway, there are ample examples before us which tell that a mother or a father is not just absolute by virtue of being a mother or a father. All of us, young or old, will have to examine ourselves whether we are doing things in genuine welfare of our children or not. We can see that parents beat their kids in a total outrageous manner. We know of parents who try to develop misunderstanding between their child and his/her spouse. So, it is totally wrong to presume that parents are always correct. As has been mentioned earlier, pure intentions on both sides are needed. 

Someone has beautifully compared life to a temporary stay like picnic or camp. Santayana said, "There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval." We are in this world for a short stay. One life is simply too short to successfully keep someone under one's thumb permanently. We must not expect too much from the other generation. The younger generation needs realization of the fact that too much selfishness and materialistic considerations will finally counter it only because it will also get old one day. Children do not learn from our words; they learn from our deeds. Similarly, the older generation should try to be useful in limited ways. One does not get respect by force; one earns it. Sometimes, it is over- expectations that sadden the old. They want to fulfill their long- starved ambitions through their children and if children fail to do so, they feel miserable. The biggest challenge before the senior citizens is to keep themselves busy in a meaningful manner. We cannot say it better than George Bernard Shaw," We have no right to consume happiness without producing it.” We will get good behavior from someone only when we ourselves treat that person nicely.   


More by :  Prof. Shubha Tiwari

Top | Parenting

Views: 3415      Comments: 1

Comment so true... lovely article, Shubha Mam. Thanks for sharing :)

halak b
21-Feb-2013 03:44 AM

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