Why Are Indian Parents So Toxic?

“You are supposed to be home by 8 pm!” is what Meenakshi* gets to hear often. She, aged 34, is working in the insurance sector. “My parents want me to get married and they feel that I should not come home late as I will lose on the marital prospects because relatives will set a bad precedent for me”, she bursts into tears.

The case of Meenakshi*, my friend, is verily common among Indian families that continue to treat their kids’ as ‘private property’, leaving lesser scope for the offspring to have their own ‘agencies’. This act of dysfunctional behaviortrait displayed by parents is an outcome of their intergenerational conflict too, and thus our society has almost reached a cultural dystopia filled with traumatic stories, domestic profanities, mental abuse, and physical violence.

Another predicament is a dearth of respect for consent and volition among Indian families. When I asked well-paid Meenakshi* that why she cannot leave her parents, and marry whenever she feels like it, she justifies “my dad has blood pressure issues and if I simply walk out, something wrong will happen to his health and I will be blamed thoroughly.”

I tried reasoning with her about having a free and open dialogue so she may school her parents about the importance of choices she can make, she confessed how secretly her therapist helped her with coping mechanisms related to anxiety issues and she has given up on herself already.

A friend of mine whom I speak to daily, on the condition of anonymity has told me to not disclose his name in this blog, and tells me, “He is a homosexual and he cannot come out because his family will kill him”. He is working as an IT professional, yet he is lacking the audacity to make his parents accept his own sexuality. Despite the so-called decriminalization of section 377, in this land of Kamasutra which has a tradition of celebrating same-sex values too, he fears. I have not understood that when India’s constitution has vouched upon the promotion of scientific temperament, why is our society acting so minuscule and parochial in its thinking?

The suppression of sexuality, amid overpopulation, followed by the oppression of personal emotions for the “greater good” interests has only catered to the servicing of society’s ignorance and its egotism, at the cost of individuality and identity. The volume of ‘shame culture’that we are residing in has brutally affected the lives of many individuals. I may not have organized data on this, but a simple survey of Indian families can surely reveal how deep is the rabbit hole of this toxicity.

I learned in school, that education is the weapon to bring about change but it seems that whatever I learned was merely a conspicuous theory. On observation, in real, education has merely toned down to license to improve employability and it has deflated the intrinsic essence of critical consciousness? A neighbor, the father of 3 kids, non-vegetarian by choice, altogether a schadenfreude I feel, cherishes the news when minorities are lynched over beef consumption. His plight makes me feel helpless, that I am coherently unable to unschool him his own abhorrence to date.

A year ago, amid the second lockdown, I authored a blog about a friend forced into an endogamous marriage since her family was religious enough to not scorn the ‘culture’. No doubt, her family suffers from ‘social anxiety’ and they’d to act undemocratic and illiberal. This example surely resonates with many individuals of this nation who are given the exam of “log kya kahengey?” when they tried endeavoring to decide independently for themselves.

In my WhatsApp group, dealing with stories and mental health issues, members have made me believe parenting is an art, and not every parent succeeds in that. Genuinely, I envy some good stories of parenting where the kids marry partners of their own choice, wear whatever they feel like, owing no explanation, while boundaries are unquestioned, but sadly these sound stories will take more than 50 decades from today to become mainstream?



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A libertarian professor based in Mumbai, youtubing at times, and reading books all-the-time. I write too. Dhamma practitioner.