As children we are always taught to respect our parents. Parents are God in human forms, one should worship one’s parents and it is the duty of the children to take care of their parents in their old age, these are some diktats that have been floating around in our society for centuries.
However today we are witnessing a massive increase in the number of old age homes, or the more fashionable, retirement homes. Aged people are becoming more and more isolated and youngsters have less and less patience in handling them or adjusting with them. Many high earners and men and women with class and status in society can’t stand the sight of their aged and ailing parents and leave them to wither away in obscure old age homes, not even looking back once at the person who was the prime reason for their existence.
It really wrenches our heart to think about such suffering that the aged have to undergo, isn’t it? However, today I do not intend to talk on this often discussed topic. Yes I agree that a large number of senior citizens are often abandoned by their own kith and kin and left to rot in old age homes. However, there is also another side to the coin. There are also a sizable number of men and women who are forced to take the decision of leaving their parents in old age homes, because their parents leave them no other choice with their attitude and behaviour.
We humans, as we have so often heard, are social animals. We live in families unlike other animals who go separate ways from their parents after they grow up, we generally still care for them, till the end of their lives. At least it is true to a large extent in India. However, in this social setup, we often come across individuals who care nothing for family or relationships. For them, their wants and needs have to be satisfied, by any means. They give two pence if someone in the family needs their attention.
When such persons marry – and yes, in our country they get married whether they want to or not – the number of people get affected as their narcissism increases manifold. They won’t adjust with the missus. They won’t approve of their son, and almost always, the daughter-in-law (daughter and son-in-law is also true, but in the Indian setup, it is the son on whom the burden of taking care of the parents falls).
The children of such narcissistic parents undergo a turbulent childhood, and they grow up with serious shortcomings in some or other aspect of their behaviour. It might not be explicitly evident, but most of them will be affected in one way or another.
Many of such children will try to go separate ways from their father at the first opportunity that presents itself. A person I know went away and settled in the US, leaving the uncaring father behind, and shows no inclination of returning even after a decade. However, there are persons who still take care of such parents, in spite of their cold attitude. Sadly, despite all the love and kindness those children shower on their parents, the parents refuse to let them live in peace. They bring home one problem or another and make the life of the children a hell.
I know many who read this may gape at what I have written, or vehemently oppose it, but I sat down to write this because in the recent days I have been a witness to the turmoil caused in a friend’s family due to the narcissistic attitude of the old man of the house. The son is fully stressed out due to the problems his dad raises, but is still reluctant to send him away. He fears he would be failing in his duties if he put his father in an old age home.And that after nearly twenty years of serving him with all obedience and humility.
My question is, is leaving such parents in an old age home wrong? If the son can get some peace of mind, and maybe, so may the father, by being separate, why can they not do that and move on with their lives? Should the son carry a guilt in his heart of having admitted such a man to an old age home?
I would say no. There is nothing wrong if the son admits the father in a old age home, whether or not the father agrees. And if anyone raises the social stigma associated with throwing away parents in destitute homes, I would call the person blind.
What are your views on this?
Yamini is a software professional turned work-at-home-mom. Amidst her domestic responsibilities and a very demanding 2.5 year old son, she snatches time to write academic papers, freelance content, fiction and poetry. Her stories and poetry have been published in various online literary magazines and anthologies by Penguin Books and Cyberwit Publications. Yamini voices her thoughts now and then at http://myexpressionsandme.