Dear Indian parents,
Call it a humble request, or an open confession, but this a heartfelt letter from us kids. We know that our forefathers grew up in a traditional environment without access to the kind of education available today, and learnt what they could from whatever source they could. Skip a few centuries, and it appears people still do not realise that age-old stereotypes and orthodox mindset were, and still are, toxic.
So here are few things that we would like you to be a bit more sensitive and perceptive about. Please note that we write this with the highest of regard.
First, you are just a part of our lives – a very important part – but are not in control of our lives. Sometimes, we want to choose our own path without your interference and all we want from you is to be supportive of what we do.
Second, we would like to acknowledge and appreciate how you want us to have a “stable career” but honestly, no career is a straight line. So no, we cannot always be engineers, doctors or lawyers unless we want to be. Please let us also be writers, painters, musicians, sportsperson and so many other things – and no, not as our “side career”, as you say.
Also, what exactly is a side career? As far as we have been made to believe, a side career – also known as a child’s first career choice – can be defined as a profession that you call “unstable” and nonsensical to pursue in the long run. You think it might be fun to indulge such “hobbies” once a month or a year, to ward off the boredom or sadness, but not to spend our entire lives doing what we love.
We get it, that is what you were taught, but it’s time we changed this.
Third, we are particularly aware of some of your everyday habits and practices which are racist, classist and casteist. It is the result of the environment you grew up in, but one can always unlearn and relearn.
We have seen the expression on your faces when you see friends who belong to a different caste, religion or class. Let me tell you, we do not care if our friends are Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Parsi as long as they are good-hearted and supportive friends. They make us smile when we’re sad and listen to us when we are mad. The point is, they’re good for us, so thinking about their religion or their social background makes no sense. Hence, please make an effort to see past their religion – to see them as your child’s support system.
As far as marriages are concerned, we know you’re highly sensitive about this topic, but it’s high time that we address the elephant in the room. First and foremost, we do not get married for “society”. We do not get married because we have “reached a certain age” and we certainly do not get married because we worry about “what other people might think” besides our own parents.
Now, coming to the person we want to marry. We are absolutely okay if our partners don’t fit into the conventional beauty standards of being “fair”, “tall” or “rich”. We want to get married to them because they’re “caring”, “considerate”, “smart”, “funny” and a whole lot of other adjectives that makes them a wonderful person according to us. Also, most of us have no problem with the concept of arranged marriages as long as we appreciate and love the person, and can see a future with them.
However, a lot of times, the whole set up makes us feel like commodities. We have come across many people from the LGBTQIA+ community who get married without their choice to make their parents accept them. I know, you might take some time to understand this perspective, but you can always educate yourself and try to accept your child for who they are.
Coming to gender roles, which has been quite difficult to make you grasp – all we want is for you to stop expecting your sons and daughters to do a specific task and not expect the other gender to do it just because they are born a certain way. So no, your daughter is not a natural chef/cook, nor is your son a natural ATM machine/vehicle driver. We as humans, irrespective of our genders, have our own unique traits and individuality.
Also read: A Letter to My Father
Finally, why are we looked down upon if we choose not to live with you after a certain age? We know it might look like we are running away from some kind of responsibility, but we’re not. Sometimes people just need space to grow. So even if you don’t stop us from doing things, the judgmental looks that accompany such permission make us uncomfortable. Another clarification – inviting a person over of the opposite gender doesn’t always mean that we are in a relationship with them.
We love you, depend on you and need you. We want you in other parts of our lives, and meet the person we’re in a relationship with, our co-workers and more. But many of us choose not to as we know that you don’t always look at things with an open mind.
We love you just the way you are. All we want is mutual understanding, so love us for who we are. Love us when we fail or want to pursue something unconventional. Love us when we want to love someone from a different religion, class or caste or of the same sex.
Our generation is going through a lot – many of you many not understand depression and anxiety because you were taught to push it under the rug. But it’s real and we’re ready to speak about it, and confront other systemic issues.
So, when we come home and put our heads on your shoulder or in your lap, all we want to hear is, “We are there for you.”
Featured image credit: Aaron Burden/Unsplash