A running battle of words and arguments is often what typifies the relationship of today’s youth with their parents. Nishah Zargar reports on this edgy relationship, the conflicts that ensue and the consequences that result.
Parents often expect their children to listen to them just as they did when they were kids. But as kids flower into youth and step into their teens and twenties new personality traits emerge. The equation changes. The teen somethings and twenty somethings increasingly demand more space to live life as they like it. More liberty to take decisions.More freedom to conduct their affairs.
And as youth think they have arrived, parents often take this as an affront. Worse, a snub. “How come you aren’t following what I say.” This is what you often hear parents griping and grumbling with a huge frown. And to puncture the new-found confidence of the young ones they will tell them, “You’re just a kid. You don’t know what is right for you.”
Psychiatrist DrArshidHussain regularly dea
ls with such cases. “Till age ten a child just listens and parents think it will always be like that. But during adolescence the child begins to think and speak. This is where parents feel something is wrong and this phase is the crucial time of parenting,” explains DrArshid.
As happens often the young ones press for having their way-- this way or that way. Or come what may.
It is here trouble begins. Swords cross. Hot words are exchanged. There are arguments and counter arguments. Or worse.
Soon the bitter brew spills all over the relationship.
And if things go out of control, this hot and cold war of sorts can result in grim consequences and personality disorders among youth. Experts say these later play out on the larger social canvas. Sociologist Farah Qayoom who teaches at Kashmir University has conducted several studies on social issues. She warns, “Children who have conflicts with their parents are more prone to behavioural disorders which directly affect the entire society."
Serious issues and questions arise in a situation like this.
Are parents being over protective, over caring, over concerned, overbearing? And at times plain oppressive? Or, are the young ones being rude, rebellious or what you have? This or that?Or both? Or just lack of understanding of each other’s perspective?
Tayibah, a 14-year-old girl has had a swipe with these difficulties. She believes parents don't understand their children at all. “Parents just want their children to listen to them no matter what,” complains Tayibah.
A common grouse among youth is this: Parents often think their children aren’t mature enough to take decisions.
Tayibah seconds this opinion."Our parents want us to do whatever they think is right, but they never see things from our point of view."
Tayibah goes on to make an innocent complaint. “Even if we have to buy a ten rupee fashion accessory we need permission. Why?"
Dr. Arshid attributes it to the over caring nature of parents. “They want their children to stay within limits because parents want to keep their children away from unethical activities.”
In Kashmir the parent-children relationship operates under some peculiar conditions. The Kashmiri society is in a state of transition. Values, traditions, ethics of yesteryears are under an enormous strain. A new wave of customs of a ‘modern’ life is seeping through the society from down up. That sets up a strong clash of outlook between parents, who are rooted in cultural and social tradition, and their young ones who see no value in this way of life. And as they try to break free, parents smell rebellion.
Farah Qayoom explains this further. "Today's parents have spent their childhood in a very different way. Parents want their children to grow up in the same traditional and cultural way in which they have grown up but children clearly reject that. This is where the parent-child relationship comes under stress."
Dr. Arshid backs up this view. “Kashmiri parents are rooted in their past and they want their children to respect old values. But today’s children can’t adjust themselves to it and that results in frequent war of words.”
Changing lifestyles apart, the Kashmiri society lives in an unending cycle of suffering because of the politics and the accompanying security scenario of the region. Today’s parents carry a huge baggage of trauma. Their youthful years were consumed by an intense period of violence. At the other side, today’s youth were born and brought up in turbulence where physical violence and mental suffering have been rife. This situation makes the parent–child relationship in the Kashmiri society very volatile. Experts say it plays out negatively on this delicate and already stressed relationship as both generations are permanently on an emotional short fuse.
“In Kashmir parents want their children to stay away from any kind of trouble related to conflict. But as the world is changing, children can’t stop themselves just because of conflict and politics. This also creates differences between parents and children,” explains DrArshid.
Parents and children are always high on expectations from each other. Parents want perfect children and children want perfect parents. These expectations just keep on growing until one fine morning they become unsustainable. And the relationship hits a roadblock. It is here the first great war begins: the war of unmet expectations.
Parents expect their children to be super duper performers-- in exams, discipline, obedience and everything else. That obviously is never how it works out. DrArshid warns children should not be pressurized to do something beyond their capacity.
What youngsters complain is that parents want a complete control over their lives ‘as a matter of right.’ DrArshid believes exercising a right over children is fine in every sense as long as, he cautions, “it doesn’t cross a limit.”
Experts feel parents treat any sign of independent thinking among youth as an alarm bell of disobedience not as a ‘positive sign’ of growingup. They further say parents often respond to this with a ‘general clampdown’.
But, what may appear to youth as a heavy handed or oppressive behavior from their parents may actually be something else-- love and concern . “We always want the best for our children and want them to obey us because that way they will be successful,” says Bilqees, a mother of three.
Parents think that obeying them is the perfect success mantra for children otherwise, they feel, children will ruin their life. “Parents are the real well-wishers of their children and whatever they tell them is never wrong. They must listen to their parents and do whatever their parents want them to do,” says Nargis, a mother of two.
As teenagers move into their late teens or early twenties they think they are mature enough to live an independent life. They begin to have their own opinions, thoughts, and values about life. Experts explain this helps them in developing their identity and world view.
But here comes the twist. Psychologists say parents find it difficult to adjust to these new realities. And here starts the second great war – the war of adjustment. Arguments and fights become frequent.
“We want to create our own identity. Our parents want us to behave as they did decades ago but we can’t adjust ourselves that way,” says AreebZahoor, a teen techie.
Sixteen year old Fayiqa chips in with similar views. “Our parents don’t understand us. They think whatever we do is wrong and they want us to live our life their way which is just not possible.”
The misunderstanding of each other’s perspective is quite too obvious in what Fayiqa’s fatherZahoor Ahmed has to say . “My children always tell me that ‘I don’t understand them’ but the reality is that no one in this world understands them better than me and their mother. They don’t want to accept this fact.”
As misunderstandings grow and things get tough, you often hear youth saying: there is no point in talking to my parents, they don’t understand me. And parents retort with: he/she will never understand, it is a gone case.
So enter the third great war – the war of understanding. Or better ‘the war of misunderstanding’.
Sociologist Farah Qayoom, believes these spiralling misunderstandings affect both parents and children psychologically. “This clash can create a communication gap between parents and children. Children feel isolated which can affect them mentally.” DrArshid believes the way out is that while looking back parents must also look forward.
With so much gadgetry and exposure around, today’s youth are far more pushy and confident than their equals twenty years ago. They also enjoy a lot more liberty and permissiveness in conducting their lives. And that doesn’t square up well with today’s parents which they see as a loss of their authority.
Farah sees the root causes of this conflict as the difference in the thinking and life styles of parents and children. “Parents think quite opposite of what their children think. Today’s children are more into gadgets and new media while parents want them to stay away from such things. And issues like these create further conflict between parents and children.”
How far has this clash of generations gone? Judge it from what 16-year old BerjeesQadr has to say: “Parents want us to respect their opinions but if they don’t respect our opinion how can we respect theirs’. They never see positive things in us. They always remember the bad things we do. I don’t think this will ever change.”
Even if Berjees and many like her think this will never change , not all is lost.
Or is it?