>Age, wisdom and parenting

>The wisdom that comes with age also brings with it an arrogance that doesn’t become that age.

Everyone grows older, and everyone accumulates wisdom through their experiences. But not everyone grows wise enough to know that their’s isn’t the only wisdom in the world. They do not learn that somebody half their age may know differently. Which is why sometimes I think, parents don’t always know what’s best for their children, even if they wish them the best in the world. They forget that when they were young, they learnt from their own mistakes and that their children must make their own to learn things. And sometimes, what seems like a mistake may not be one at all. You don’t stop learning even if you’re 65!

Age gives parents the authority to substantiate their point of view with years of experience. But their experience may be different from mine or someone else’s. And the lesson it teaches may be still more different. You cannot substitute my experience with yours.

An adult is not a child even if you are a parent. And under the guise of a well-wisher, a parent cannot take away his children’s point of view. You cannot expect a 30-year-old to follow blindly in your footsteps like he did when he was three! As a child first and then a parent, did you not learn that you must let the child come into his own? Did you not learn that the decision to charter his own course is not a lack of respect or a lack of love for you but something more innocent?

If years of parenting has not taught your child to differentiate between right and wrong, nothing you say now can teach him. And parents sometimes forget that to teach is different from imposing. They forget that to support your children is different from creating dependability, to love them is different from binding them.

And when children have grown up they don’t just want love, they want respect too. Just like parents do. I know that because I’ve enjoyed that kind of relationship with my parents. I also know that because not everyone has been there.

I’ve seen adults grapple with their unsatisfactory relationships with their parents. I have seen disappointed children in 30-year-olds shed tears because the parents they love so much don’t understand them or their choices. These are the parents I talk about: 5o-year-olds who live with the arrogance of being their age, who feel abandoned by their children but have driven then away with their own behaviour.

I do not intend to make sweeping statements. But I hope I never become the kind of parent who drives her own child away.


21 responses »

  1. >Even i ponder on this topic very often…Am in total accordance with ur post.!!Now we cant change the perspective of the elder generation..What we can do is bring the change in ourselves…I hope all the readers of this blog post start thinking on those lines..!!:)

  2. >’The wisdom that comes with age also brings with it an arrogance that doesn’t become that age’.’But I hope I never become the kind of parent who drives her own child away’.D: I enjoy reading what you write. You give your unique perspective to what you write, and, you write well. I must confess that I am on the other side of 50 and still agree with you completely. This is probably a typical Indian parental trait that we never seem to leave behind with age. I do hope you do live up to your second quote, reproduced above. That is the most important part. Like Gandhiji said, ‘We must be the change, we wish to see’

  3. >Great insight, especially for someone who has not experienced it. I totally, wholly and completely agree with you on this one. I have the kind of parents you have described here, where a child is good enough, only as long as he follows their dictates. I hope I don’t turn out to be anything like that ever as a parent.

  4. >Oh you have no idea how much this applies to me at this point of time on my life…I just have a few thoughts…If its my duty to earn the trust of my parents, isnt it theirs to earn my respect? For how long can I respect them out of fear, for how long is such a respect supposed to last?Is only the path they took in life, right? Can there be no other right path? why cant they accept the fact that there may be somethings which appear so wrong to them, but in fact are just different from their choices and may infact be right?

  5. >omg! something tht was on my head from yday nite tht din let me sleep.. extly been with parents who respect their kids and their opinion and scared of gettin into a world where ppl dont do it!hmm… some of my uncles say m old m experienced so i kno everyhting better than u .. i wonder if they have even for starters been in a kindergarden like the one i ve been in to .,. to kno how it feels!Maturity is accptin that ur not the only rite person.. true knowledge is knowin tht there is a lot u dono yet!

  6. >@Vinz: I guess that would be too much to ask for, but it’s not a bad thought!@JPJ: Coming from somebody your age, this means a lot to me :)@GM: I’ve seen it from close quarters and knhow how exasperating it can be.@sunshine: I debate that in my head so often – how long can someone respect their parents only because they must and not because they want to!@sansmerci: There’s so much you can learn from people younger to you. They are the people who represent the changing world.

  7. >very true D!my parents have always respected my choice and make it a point to appreciate qualities I have which they dont. and when telling me something would always say after its your life, so final call is yours.on the other hand i have seen parents who want to meddle in every little thing in their “adult” children’s lives. starting from which fridge to buy to what colour saree should he buy for his wife!i hope i too am a parent like my parents are! great post yet again D!cheers!abha

  8. >I agree … Respect is a two way street .. and just because someone is old doesn’t mean they have all the wisdom in the world .. I have seen the most childish immature old people and the most intelligent children.Although, I also respect my parents for putting up with me. Having me for a son is like having George Bush as President. It’s dangerous, terrible and someone is going to choke on a pretzel.

  9. >Really liked this entry! I have the type of relationship with my parents that you described in here… they have guided me, loved me, and taught me well. But they almost always let me make my own decisions (even if they don’t always agree with it immediately), and if I fail for whatever reason, they make sure I learn from it. Of course for some decisions my parents take on the air of I-know-better-than-you and, usually, they are justified because I am grappling with some issue I am fairly ignorant on, so their input and advice is definitely needed. They offer all the guidance they can, but they still let me choose what to do at the end. And that’s the best way to grow up … with guidance AND the freedom to choose after being taught all angles of the possible consequences. Even children need to fall down and scrape their knees to understand that they need to be more careful the next time they run around. It’s one thing to hear something, it’s an entirely different thing to feel something.

  10. >@Abha: Exactly my sentiments!@Ramby: Oh yes, and I respect your parents enormously for putting up with you too :D@Sindhu: I’m glad you’ve been allowed to take your own decisions – for better or for worse.@Sriraj: Thank you!

  11. >Well, I am on my way there, 50 I mean. And I agree with every word you said. I have held this opinion since long, pretty long right from my own college days. As for me, I have let my children gradually free as they grew older. I am gratified when they talk about the problems faced by their peers from their parents and quickly add, ‘but not you Mom!’ I am disgusted by adults who are so obsequious before their parents, obeying each and every diktat and the parents equating this blind obedience as love and respect. Pah! Making puppets out of children who are grown adults! How can anyone do that and be proud of his/her child??!!! Beats me. I would be ashamed if my own children behaved that way. So I made sure they did not grow up to be that way and they are their own persons.When I hear an octogenarian in some Bollywood production asking with all seriousness to his son in his mid fifties, “So you took the decision without consulting me!” (mind you the oldie voluntarily retired handing over the reins to his son) Oh yeah, why don’t you go crawling to Papa dear even at 55 and ask him if you can or cannot do something. Parents do not always know best. Period. And even if they do, it is for the children to live life on their own times. Only loving parents can let their children go and watch as the kids live their life on their own terms, making mistakes and learning from them. Rest are not parents but puppeteers and I have met quite a few in my lifetime.Sorry, was that comment long??

  12. >@Piper: Mailed, now hurry up and say whatever it is. I’m curious.@Shail: Yes, that comment was long but lovely 🙂 It’s great to come across people who can give their children space to be their own person. That’s what you’ve done. And your children will always value, love and respect you for it!

  13. >I am totally with you on this D.Age does not automatically bring wisdom, how I wish it did! If we were prejudiced and narrow minded in our youth are we suddenly going to become open minded and intelligent senior citizens? I have always objected to such thinking and thankfully have thrived on it.

  14. >A lot goes in to make the parent-child relationship stronger. Love and respect has got nothing to do with the child agreeing to do what parents say. When will the child learn if the parents keep holding their hands and dont let them decide. Let the child take the decision and let the parents stand by them as a rock.. Only then the child will gain wisdom and love/respect his parents. For me, I learn even from a 5 years old kid..

  15. >@morpheus: That’s a good question – who fears what – the parent or the child?@soulmate: There is so much to learn from children, it’s amazing!

  16. >What’s everyone doing for safety precautions for Halloween? My husband came across an article (http://i-newswire.com/pr220892.html) with some info about background checking neighbors. I thought that may be a little overboard but it had some other good suggestions for some precautions I haven’t thought about. Last year my youngest son came down with a massive fever after Halloween. I almost thought about just taking the kids to our church’s fall festival this year instead of door-to-door to prevent that from happening again. I don’t know yet. What’s your advice? Am I over-reacted or just being a concerned mom?

  17. >I am here for a second time, loved these brilliant lines too…"And parents sometimes forget that to teach is different from imposing. They forget that to support your children is different from creating dependability, to love them is different from binding them."Agree with every word here of course!

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