Recently, I met a friend after several years. Ours has been a time-tested relationship.
As we got talking, I realized that he was quite frustrated with his 25-year old son.
The son was a brilliant chap working in IT in a reputed organization. He had a bright future. Like many young people of today living separately from the parents, the son seemed to have ‘reclaimed’ his independence. He now had a set of friends and they lived their life in their own way.
The father’s frustration seemed to stem from the fact that the son did not observe their family rituals. Theirs is a traditional family with well laid down protocols and rituals. There are some daily rituals that are to be followed, apart from following a certain way of life, in general.
The son’s lifestyle of late night parties, pub-hopping, and mingling with his co-workers and friends of the opposite gender was creating a lot of issues at home.
My friend was very anxious. He wanted to monitor where his son was, who all were with him and what he was up to. Obviously, the son was fiercely protecting his privacy. He was not going to allow anyone to ‘stalk’ him.
This conflict was playing out every other day and my friend’s wife seemed to be caught between the two generations.
Over the past few weeks, I had noticed my friend’s posts on social media that were reflecting this conflict. He had found some like-minded friends who were supportive of his stance on Life.
While I was driving back home after the meeting, I was reflecting on the situation.
It was not that my friend was unreasonable in expecting his son to carry the family legacy forward. He had done the same in his life. It was only natural for him to expect his son to continue the legacy.
I couldn’t blame the son. He belonged to a new generation that had a different take on Life. Probably, the son did not think of these rituals as a family legacy that he was obligated to carry forward. Probably he placed his convenience at a premium or considered following rituals a matter of choice.
Click here to read my other related post, ‘Why Pain is Necessary’.
I was remembering a distant relative of mine who had made life so difficult for his children that they grew up to hate him. He used to emotionally blackmail his grown-up children. While the children were at a stage when they were grown-up but still financially dependent on their father, the father would loosen the purse strings only if a certain ritual was followed by them. Such situations put enormous pressure on the relationship. At a certain point, both grown-up children communicated with their father only through their mother. Things came to such a pass that when the father passed away, the children heaved a sigh of relief.
Going back to the ‘roots’
Generally, I have observed that for some of us, gradually, we feel drawn to our ‘roots’. Especially, as we approach retirement age or when we are past it, we go through a realignment of our perspectives. We could be feeling that we have ‘wasted’ our life in pursuit of a materialistic life and that it is time to atone for our ‘sins’ and return to the fold of traditions and rituals. This is partly due to the availability of time and partly to recommit to the ‘community’.
Ritual vs. Relationship
I don’t believe there is anything wrong in following rituals just as I don’t believe that the next generation choosing a particular way of life different from their parents’ is, in any way, wrong too. Both perspectives are valid.
If the parents and the grown-up children are in complete alignment, things work well.
However, when it comes to observing rituals or following a certain way of life if the grown-up children have a view that is quite different from their parents’, things can get complex.
When such circumstances occur, there are some options available to parents:
1. Parents focus only on such rituals and that particular way of life and cannot see or don’t care about the impact on the relationship.
2. Both sides readjust their perspectives and meet halfway somewhere.
3. Parents focus on the future of the relationship and are not overly concerned about compliance to ‘rituals’ and to that particular way of life.
What stays after us
As I write this note, I see my father’s picture on our Living Room wall. He passed away over 8 years ago at the age of 84 years.
It could seem insensitive when I state this but whatever my father stood for ended with his death. This is true. It is going to be the same case for all of us.
However, because he was the person that he was, as children, we have very fond memories of him. We greatly value our association with him and his immense contribution to who we are today. We still miss him. Our memories of him even after his death says a lot about the option that he chose in his life.
It is eminently clear to us that he opted to focus on the relationship…not on the rituals.
Click here to read my other related post, ‘Are You Worried About Generation Gap?’
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