We have had our share of struggle while teaching our parents about “millennials’ technology”. Sometimes, these lessons turn into fights. It’s time to relate and reflect.

” I just taught you! How can you forget the WhatsApp icon? It is right there!”

“No, that is not the power button, that controls the volume!”

“No! The phone will not explode”

“That is not how you hold a phone, it is not a baby”

The advent of smartphones has affected family relations. Remember the fight you had with your parents when you were trying to teach them “boomers’ rocket science”- WhatsApp. It is a peculiar affair- parents can manage an entire household, execute work assignments without hassle, grow babies but cannot use mobiles to communicate and laptops to mail. “This one time dad saw someone go live, he wanted to learn that I taught him the entire thing and he went live accidentally for an entire hour and got hundreds of comments. He then made me come and teach him how to reply to all of them.”,says Rhea D. a first year student.

Lesson one: teaching them how to hold the phone. This, in itself, is a tug of war. Trying to move their fingers that just won’t adjust. Positioning the palm, trying to motion the wrists into acute angles, failing miserably and realising thereby that teaching isn’t that easy a profession.

How long did it take to make them understand that passwords and OTPs (One Time Password)  are not supposed to be announced publicly like vendors’ prices at a flea market? Have you succeeded yet? If yes, then you should add it to your CV because that is a milestone achievement. It is hard to make them realise that “password123” or your name is simply not a strong password.

And how can we not mention the jargon disjunction! They can’t be Zuckerbergs in a day or a fortnight, you are not that great as a teacher. Do not try to teach them how routers work, do not teach them what “www” means, do not teach them about motherboards. Meditate for five minutes before the teaching voyage to avoid fights. Let them make their own words and try not to laugh sheepishly. Imagine you are in first grade, and you just realised that ‘ice-spice’ is actually ‘I-spy’ and your friends are laughing at you. Yes, they would feel the same. Aniket Singh Chauhan, another first year student says,”Whenever my parents ask me for help, a random thought comes to my mind that it is my duty to do help because even they helped me when I knew nothing. It is a tiny bit frustrating but I just love it when my parents go a bit tech-savvy.” Be calm and if that doesn’t work, remember that they changed your diapers, in a nutshell- be grateful.

Feature Image Credits: Eventbrite

Priyanshi Banerjee

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Often parents end up dictating our present in attempts to create a safe future, making us question what choice should you, as a child, make then?

Board exams are not just an examination for the students but also for their parents. Children and parents both feel the stress and anxiety. After crossing that phase, you realise how hyped these exams were but how real they felt when writing them. I remember looking back how my mother had become my one true support system and my dad took responsibility to get me whatever it was that I needed. This is how invested parents get at such a stage in our lives.

Education is important and a backbone of our futures. The strong emotions felt by our parents over this can often translate into over-protectiveness where they begin to dictate certain aspects of our course or subjects. I have heard of several instances of parents asking their children to leave Humanities for Science, to compromise on their course for a better college, to follow the mainstream than to do something risky.

Image credits: Times of India
Image credits: Times of India

The last part of that sentence becomes important, on speaking to my mother about the same she said, “Parents speak from their experiences. We are comfortable with what we know, unchartered waters arise fear and we begin to hold on too hard to our loved ones.” While times have changed parents often speak from an outdated perspective, where Engineering, MBBS or MBAs were seen as better courses by the society and created more successful individuals. There were ideas of a ‘set’ life and we can sense our folks often trying to mould us into it. Bournvita, in its initiative #lookbeyondmarks, touches upon this idea how not everyone fits in the same large sized, black t-shirt, yet parents attach the same expectations from every child.

On telling my friends or cousins how I’m pursuing an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology, did I realise how lucky I was, to be able to study a subject of my choice. While my grandfather’s reaction was, “Beta, koi professional course lele. Haye, Law kyu nahi karti?” (why not study a professional course, such as Law), endless number of people have mentioned how they were not allowed to study subjects like Psychology, Bachelor of Management Studies, International Relations, or at a younger level Arts, because of their parents.

Image credits: Scoop Whoop
Image credits: Scoop Whoop

Prakhar Rathi, a student of Computer Science comments, “While ideas like ‘go pursue your passion’ sound great, my decision of which course to study was not just mine but an amalgamation of what I liked, what my parents liked, what was expected out of me and the pressure of not disappointing them. All this led to me selecting a course I somewhat liked but mainly checked all the boxes.”

Newer courses have now come up, with the aim to allow students to study what inspires them, subjects like BMS, Anthropology, Forensic Sciences, Ecopsychology and many more that can cater to such unique interests. But for some parents this desire often leads to them guiding their children down a path which they feel is best or which allows them to live their dreams through their children.

But making this a more realistic perspective, while the horizon of opportunities has broadened, and specialised courses are on a rise, not every course guarantees a job with a big package and a good life. This is where a parent’s perspective stems from. But the debate is about who defines what a “good life” is. A typical Indian parent’s response will be that these ideas only exist in films. But what is the value of that degree when it feels like suffocating, what is the value of the job it gives when you are only going to hate it or leave it, what is the value of those years when you will only regret them.

However, there can be a flip side to this where the outcomes might not be as harsh as they seem in those moments. Deepen Gondolay, a student of B.Com remarks, “It started out when I wanted to take Humanities and they made me take Commerce. Later, when I wanted to pursue BBA, I was pushed into staying here and doing B.Com, even when it wasn’t an ideal course. I don’t regret it too much because what I want to pursue as a career aligns with commerce itself.”

Not everyone meets the same fate, some slave studying subjects they do not have the aptitude or interest for. Not all of us have the liberty to negotiate and to those I can only say we cannot predict or control how our future will turnout, even after an IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad one could turn out to be a writer, while what kind of a writer is debateable. Either way life resulting in happiness will not indicate how parents are always right and unhappiness will only lead to resentment.

It is a tug of war between generations, opinions and risks between your parents’ choice and your choice.

Image credits: Rediffmail

Shivani Dadhwal

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Loving in a culture where all love outside marriage is forbidden is taxing. Read our Editor’s take on it.

Love is the common language spoken across the world. Stories of love have existed in every society that ever told stories. When we remember how fundamental romantic attachment is to human beings, how common and natural, our society’s desire to stop people from loving, it seems toxic and selfish. Our parents don’t accept the fact that we could or would want to experience dating, companionship, or love. Most of us aren’t “allowed” to date, not that it means we don’t. We don’t tell our parents about our love life and significant others, caught in the fear that they may never approve. We don’t seek love advice from them, introduce them to our significant others, or share the details of our whereabouts with them with honesty. And if, by chance, our love strays from the hetero-normative narrative of love between a female and a male, the discomfort and fear of acceptance increases manifold.

For most Indian kids, love begins with lies. “I am going to meet Neha,” we say as we dash to the farthest end of our street for a sneaky ice- cream, and walk with someone who is certainly not Neha. These cloak and dagger games can be exciting initially but, as we grow up, we realise they are something far more sinister. Most families hold different beliefs regarding dating and love. Some might want their children to keep away from relationships “to keep them focused on academics” while others have far more rigid ideas about the same, like believing love and sexual experiences are reserved within the institution of marriage. It is in these households where young adults who are actively dating are, at best, at the risk of parental disapproval and, at worst, of losing their freedom, agency, as well as independence.  The punishment of love in India without parents’ approval can range from having one’s phone taken away, to being made to quit the pursuit of education and, in extreme cases, to honour killings as well. Our culture has intertwined love with marriage, with controlling ideas about monogamy, togetherness, and “purity”. The impact on women has been undeniably worse since the “punishment” for loving has been known to be far more unforgiving on them than on men.

We don’t grow up with the right ideals of love.  We live in a country where a common experience of all our peers is telling their first big lie to their parents with regard to someone they were dating. We couldn’t talk to our parents openly, or ask them questions about love, sex, relationships, boundaries, consent, and respect  because we could never anticipate if it would be met with disapproval or punishment. We hid under our blankets sneakily texting our 9th grade crush, or sneaked out for study sessions with our boyfriend/girlfriend, and came to college and talked to our parents about everything in detail, except the person we loved.

Love, in itself, is capable of inciting fear. We invest our time and energy into someone who could one day casually walk up to us, say that it isn’t working out, and walk away, leaving us to deal with the walls crumbling around. But aside from the natural insecurity, in families, cultures, and communities where love is taboo, people are more likely to confuse love with and abuse. After all, they were never taught the difference between the two.

The approval of our parents is important. Running home after a star in our notebooks, or winning a match, a debate, a rangoli competition, and hearing them say, “I am proud of you, beta” is immensely precious for many of us, and nothing really beats that, not when we were ten and not now as well. It is sad therefore, that our parents don’t say it enough, and sadder perhaps that the approval they reserve for academic and extracurricular achievements, isn’t extended to forming  beliefs systems which make us healthy, happy, fully-functioning human beings. Our parents will not tell us they are proud of us for breaking away from a toxic partner. Most of us would never have our parents sit down next to us, and comfort us with a cup of chai and a heart-to-heart conversation about heartbreak, like they did after every bad result, lost match, public failure.

I wish, like all the kahaaniyan (stories) our parents told to put us to sleep when we were children, the ones that taught us how to be brave, how to be kind, how to have compassion, also told us how to love, how to be respected and respectful in love, when to stay and when to leave, when to hold on and when to let go. Perhaps, we would have been kinder to ourselves and those we have loved, then. For Indian parents, who claim to do everything for the well-being of their children, do one more thing – give them the freedom to love, whomever they want and however they want.

Kinjal Pandey

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In a time when college campuses are becoming hubs for discussions on topics like LGBTQ and gender rights, how far have our parents come in terms of having open discussions about sex to their college-going kids? How far has the Indian household come?

When I was little, I had once asked my Mom- “From where did I come?” and she answered with a smile that she prayed and so it happened. The conversation could have ended then, but I asked her another question in return. “Mama, don’t the nuns pray all the time; why don’t they get babies?” That question remained unanswered, and it does so years later as well.

The elephant in the room that is never addressed is the way Indian parents see sex. The sad reality is that parents never discuss sex with their children, and yet expect them to have already known all this through various media-based platforms. The ambiguity about it is so well-maintained that we never expect them to tell us either. The relationship shared among the coming-of-age teenagers, and their culturally and traditionally submerged parents is so drastically aloof from the western style of parenting that a lot of sensitive topics are left unmentioned.

A silent understanding is reached where the latter expects the first to be smart and efficient in understanding such matters, without ever making sure that it so happens. Indian parents generally shush such matters, and when they do arise unintentionally, then these topics are manipulatively buried beneath the carpet so as to keep the kids away from it. We all must have experienced that awkward moment when a kissing scene comes on television, and we don’t know what to do when with our parents around us. Sex-based conversations are sensitive, often offensive, and have materialised into taboos.

It becomes all the more problematic with girls, where they are forced to hide their love lives from their parents, and live in the constant fear of being caught and may even experience guilt about hiding secrets from them. Most girls in the Indian society are given regulated freedom to the extent that they can study and build a life for themselves, but the basic decisions and steps in it are controlled. A matter as private as physical intimacy is turned into a monstrosity, a sin that unmarried woman must not engage in. She is told to suppress her feelings as long as a stranger is not arranged for her to get married to.

Indian parents have surely become westernised, with their almost-addictive tendencies towards their smartphones, but they have somehow stayed traditionally conservative on topics like sex. This lack of discussion is not only unhealthy for the child, but also vicious because the child is, at times, left without guidance and ends up in trouble. The vicious cycle then continues where it is never okay to discuss sex, generation-after-generation, no matter how modernised we become.

Certainly, that is not the case with all parents and the trend seems to be shifting with time. But it is still gradual beyond liking, and it remains something that parents seem to not easily adapt. The spine-chilling pieces of news of honour killings of couples to protect the family’s societal image, and forced marriages of youngsters when found having a lover or a partner are nothing new to us.

It is important that families communicate openly, so that children realise the boundaries of consent, contraception, and even intimacy, and it is important for the parents to understand that sex is natural and normal. Breaking the taboo around sex is not only important for larger goals like population control, but for better family dynamics as well. Sex may be a topic that parents and kids both may be too shy to put forward. But it is important as this would not only allow you to have such discussions in the future but would also allow them to see you as adults. Thus, it’s up to us as individuals to take the stand. Psychologically, certain discussions a mandatory to happen if one desires development and growth. Sex, if not in our parents times, but at least in ours should be a topic that the future generations aren’t afraid to discuss.

Image Credits: Netflix

Image Caption: Stand-up Comic, Hasan Minhaj, explained the communication gap and taboo of sex in Indian families.

Stephen Mathew

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Display of affection has largely been limited to romantic relationships. Letters, well-thought-out presents, and grand gestures are often not extended to parents, old friends, grandparents, siblings, and cousins because we take them for granted, but life is unpredictable and we do not have the luxury to lose the opportunity to show our love.

Overt signs of affection include using kind words, verbally reminding the people in our lives that they are loved, going out of our way to make them feel better. More often than not, these gestures are not extended to the people we love the most. Telling your parents you love them sounds silly to a lot of people, “Of course I love them, they are my parents! I don’t need to say it out loud”, is the first thought that comes to mind. We spend a considerable chunk of our lives hiding positive emotions from the people closest to us while anger and resentment are readily expressed.

The biggest mistake we can make, in terms of interpersonal relationships is taking someone who matters a lot to us, for granted. Regret can be unforgiving to those who do not appreciate their gifts and the worst of all regrets is the regret to have not loved enough. Indian middle class households are particularly prone to be unnecessarily stiff, even when there is an ocean of emotion inside. Our parents show their love through “Did you eat” or “Please go to bed on time” rather than by “I love you” or “I am so proud of you”. But their hesitation towards showing love does not give us the license to do the same; it then falls upon us to ensure that we show them the love we feel, even if it is unprecedented in our household.

In our impatience and youth, our fearlessness and arrogance, we assume no harm can come to us or to the ones we care about. We aren’t hardened enough; our purview of the world is utopian. This makes take what we have for granted. Unfortunately, life is far from fair. Tragedy, loss, sickness, separation are an established truth, something we will eventually have to face. Perhaps then, we would regret our audacity and ungratefulness but that regret would come too late. It is therefore imperative that we show love to those we care about without the fear of sounding too sentimental. The greatest gift that human beings have is the gift of emotion; our emotions are complex and all-consuming and sometimes giving them free-reign is the best thing we can do. Therefore, love fearlessly and do not be afraid to let it be known.


Feature Image Credits: Catholic March

Kinjal Pandey
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