From Unwavering Support to Abandonment

The Duality of Parent-Child Relationships
Representational Image
Representational Image Pixabay [Creative Commons]

Let us begin with the thought-provoking inquiry, "Why do the majority of adult children neglect their parents?" It is a saddening reality that offspring show little concern for their parents, rarely keeping in touch or visiting them, and disregarding their well-being. This phenomenon is increasingly prevalent, and the reasons behind it are multifaceted.

There are instances where adult children justify their distance from their parents, while in other cases, the reasons are elusive. When we become parents, we presume that our bond with our children will endure, that it will remain affectionate, genuine, and unwavering. However, life does not offer solid guarantees, and the filial ties between parents and children can be severed.

Such situations often leave parents feeling insecure and distressed, unable to understand why their children have chosen to distance themselves. They cling to the hope that their phone will ring or their child will pay them a visit. They may even try to reach out to their child's friends in the hopes of connecting or simply to ensure their well-being.

Each family and family member has a unique personality, disposition, and the dynamics between parents and adult children can vary widely. Nonetheless, the absence of filial piety can cause great pain and suffering, and it is a phenomenon that deserves our attention and understanding.

Nothing on the face of earth can justify the indifference of the adult children towards their parents, nonetheless the root cause of aloofness in parent-child relationships is not always clear. In many cases, the departure of an adult child (specifically a son) after marriage marks a pivotal moment in the parent-child relationship. As the child becomes preoccupied with the demands of their own family unit, a noticeable decline in visits to the parental household can be observed, serving as an early indicator of potential strife.

One plausible explanation for this phenomenon may be the strain of maintaining a delicate balance between the needs and expectations of both one's spouse and children, and those of one's parents. This can result in sporadic and infrequent visits to the parental abode, as the adult child strives to navigate the competing demands of familial obligations. In the vast majority of cases, the delicate act of balancing familial responsibilities is woefully neglected, leaving elderly parents to bear the brunt of the burden. Ironically, those who once cared for us in our youth are often left vulnerable and unsupported in their twilight years.

In recent years, more children are breaking ties with their parents, indicating a shift in the traditional family model. The old paradigm of children being subordinated to their parents is no longer as rigidly enforced.

Indeed, it is important to acknowledge that there is another side to the coin. As the saying goes, "Every coin has two sides." It is crucial to consider all perspectives and possibilities before coming to a conclusion or making a decision. By doing so, we can gain a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of a situation and avoid potential oversights or biases. As the writer Anne Frank once said, "Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness." In other words, by illuminating all sides of an issue, we can gain greater clarity and insight.

Let us examine the scenario of a married son who, while residing independently from his parents, made regular visits to and provided financial assistance for them. Alas, despite his best efforts, he experienced a persistent sense of unwelcome whenever he returned to his childhood home. His parents exhibited an indifferent attitude towards him, preoccupied with domestic chores and activities, thereby exacerbating his feelings of isolation and emotional pain. To complicate matters further, his well-intentioned suggestion to convert a section of their residence into a coaching center was met with hostility by his father, only worsening the already difficult situation. Additionally, the parents demonstrated a clear bias towards their daughter's offspring, failing to visit or acknowledge their son's rented abode. Such a predicament highlights the complexity and nuances of familial relationships, where attempts at support and affection can sometimes fall short of expectations, leading to misunderstandings and resentment.

In some cases, relationships between parents and their children's spouses can also become strained. Parents may not accept their children's choices and insist on "deserving better." This can lead to the relationship becoming a battlefield, resulting in a breakdown and distancing. Conversely, the partner of a child may also have a poor relationship with their in-laws, causing them to cease making visits.

The favoured child often becomes the source of highly intricate dynamics within the family. When parents show selective affection, the other siblings often distance themselves, leading to resentment.

When reflecting on our relationships with our parents, it's important to acknowledge the numerous times they have demonstrated forgiveness and selflessness. They have undoubtedly overlooked our faults and shortcomings, extending their love and understanding when we may have fallen short. Countless times, they have sacrificed their own desires and material possessions to ensure our well-being and happiness.

Even when we have made mistakes and acted in ways that may have disappointed or hurt them, our parents have not abandoned or neglected us. Instead, they have continued to support us and provide guidance, even when it may have been difficult or challenging for them.

In essence, let us not forget the immense love and care that our parents have given us throughout our lives. Their unwavering support and sacrifices serve as a reminder of the powerful bond between a parent and child.

Children who love their parents always stay in touch. Daily calls and a need to stay connected keep the bond strong. However, there are some children who ignore their parents during their time of need, leading to loneliness and abandonment. Often, they find it a burden to take care of their parents when they become increasingly dependent. These darker realities of society must be addressed because humanity demands that we provide assistance when our loved ones cannot fend for themselves.

The Quranic verse from Surah Al-Isra 17-24 reminds us to have mercy upon our parents, just as they took care of us when we were young. For the younger generation, it's essential to remember that an apology doesn't imply who is right or wrong, but it means valuing our relationships more than our egos. We must act now before it's too late.

Dr Zubair Saleem is a Senior Geriatric Consultant and Gerontologist and Dr Showkat Rashid Wani is a Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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