Many parents unknowingly deprive their sons of pure and selfless love after a certain age. A son, unfortunately, is often treated like an asset, an investment or ‘an adhikar’. And a few things done for him are somewhere, unwittingly motivated by the selfish desire for a return on the emotional or monetary investment. Phrases like ‘shravan kumar’ and ‘agyakari beta’ or ‘maa ka ladla’ are showered upon him as a reward for adhering to the behavior expected of him.
He is taken care of and pampered endlessly in his early years, all his whims and demands are catered to, often subconsciously with the expectation that he will return the favour. In many cases, he is compelled to choose an education and career which suits the family business (in higher income or business families) or has greater earning prospects (in middle or low income families). Similarly, he is persuaded to marry a suitable girl, who is societally appropriate, will follow the family customs and traditions and eventually will bear a son to carry the family name and lineage forward.
Even after he is married, he is usually not given the freedom to love his wife completely without feeling guilty about the insecurity of his parents. He has to deal with comments like ‘joru ka ghulam’ and ‘biwi ke aage piche dum hilata hain’. Regretablly, parents compete with their daughter-in-laws and sometimes even grandchildren for their son’s love and attention tearing the son’s life apart.
Conversely, daughters usually never go through such an experience. They are loved simply for who they are. There are no expectations of returns for the love and care provided. Their upbringing and education is not attached with the strings of return on investment. Girls tend to experience more genuine emotions of their parent’s love or anger, happiness or disappointment. They are not burdened with any presumptions or expectations of caring for their parents, carrying the family name or business forward. Daughters are taught and encouraged to love their husbands whole-heartedly and completely. Parents don’t tend to interfere in a daughter’s married life or compare her love for them against that for her husband or children. Girls, truly experience the unconditional and unfaltering love of their parents all their lives.
Why can’t we shower this same unquestioning, unwavering and whole-hearted love on our sons? Why do we feel the need to threaten, coax or cajole love and respect out of them after they attain a certain age? And above all, why do we employ money, property, comfort, emotional blackmail and insecurity as tools to gain the love and devotion of our sons and eventually their wives and children? Can parents with money really obtain the love of their boys by wooing them with riches and comforts or baiting them with insecurity? Similarly, can middle and lower class parents win their son’s love over by emotional blackmail and ‘jimmedari’ or by counting the money spent on their sons education?
There is no denial that sons tend to become selfish and greedy after a certain age. But is it not us who have sown the seeds of this avarice?
Daughters love their parents dearly until their dying day and even after. There are several girls who take care of their parents in their old age, provide and care for them, spend time with them. But not because they feel obligated to or for monetary gains. They do it because they were raised with selfless love and affection, because they were brought up with genuine warmth and care. They are simply reciprocating those very emotions that they have felt all their lives.
Would our sons not feel these same emotions had we not encumbered them with our expectations? Why are we not that trusting and confident of our boys? Afterall, if our upbringing is right and the values we inculcate true, there should be no room for doubt.
It is time we gave our boys the freedom to live their lives without fear and guilt. Let’s free them from the burden of ‘farz’ and ‘jimmedari’. Let us allow them to love their wives and children wholly without having to worry about displeasing or upsetting us. They deserve the freedom to choose their careers, life partners, who they want to be, where they want to live without any anxiety over our ego, tears or insecurity. They need not have to worry about losing the financial security, bank balance, property for their decisions.
By dangling the carrot of money or emotional blackmail, we are in no way buying their love. We have sadly converted ourselves into duties and responsibilities and seized being the parents they love and respect. We are creating a ‘have to’ atmosphere rather than a ‘want to’ environment in our homes. At the end of the day, many of our sons have a distraught, unfulfilling, incomplete life professionally and personally because of the unnecessary pressure we create in their lives.
Let us free our minds of the shackles of insecurity and apprehension. Let us show them we love them for who they are rather than what they can or will do for us. Let’s love our boys purely and truly, without any ulterior motives, just the way we love our daughters.
Aditi Munot is a Pune based blogger.