Living with the Aging Parents in the Indian Families

Indian families are the symbol of compassion, affection and kindness. For ages Indian families have been recognized for their continuity, perseverance and adaptability. The members of an Indian family are bind together with the string of mutual dependency, empathy, love, affection and mutual support. It is the members of a family that makes a mere building of rock and cement into a home. Parents have a big role to play not only in our lives but also in making a home because it is only them who actually gave us our identities and taught us what we should be apprehending by a family. We always owe to our parents because they have given us this very life, and they have done that every bit of a thing that was much needed for us and for our progress.

No one can ever replace the role and positions of the parents in our life. Both the father and the mother have their own significant roles, where a father gives us an identity in the society and community, he earns for the family and livelihood then on the other side a mother becomes the first and the best teacher for a child who teaches him/her the morals and the values of life. None of the parents is less than the other and that is why there cannot be any comparison made in between both of them. Parents would always be the two persons whose hard-work and struggle could never be repaid.

ChildrenOur Indian culture has also acknowledged the position of the parents to be at the top. In the ancient Hindu mythology also, Lord Ganesha had been shown worshipping his parents (Maa Gauri and Father Shankar) instead of visiting the holy shrines in the world. Lord Ganesha was believed to found the solace and enlightenment in the feet of his parents and he refused to visit any other holy shrine to realize the grace of the Almighty. And in fact parents deserve such a great gesture of respect and love because they devotedly give their whole life to the creation of a personality of their child. Parents impart knowledge, and inculcate values in the child. As Mahatma Gandhi stated that “every home is a university and the parents are the teacher”. A child tend to learn everything from his/her parents, in fact in the longer run children actually reflect the image of their parents. For some of the truly devoted children, parents are like God who means everything for them.

It is actually the selfless love, service and empathy of the parents that, make them bighearted and much deserving. They can sacrifice their meals, but will never allow their children to sleep empty stomach, we all must have gone through some instances in our lives where we felt so weak and disheartened, but our parents were always there to hold our hands and encouraged us to move on in life. Parents give their own time to us out of their lives; it is like giving a major share of something precious. They give supervision, education; socialization, development and growth to their children. Our parents were the happiest persons when we for the very first time called them; ‘mom’ and ‘dad’. Just to see us happy they went through many struggles and to give us happiness of the material world they sometime had to do many sacrifices as well.

Life goes on and it includes a natural process of birth and decay. Who was young once upon a time, will be older at later for sure. Likewise, we all get older so our parents. When our parents begin aging, it is the time to take care of them much more devotedly than they have been doing for us. It is popularly believed that aging parents become like kids, their thought process, and their likes or dislikes all together change and they feel much more dependent on us, than before. Parental aging is the sign that now; the parents need your concern and care or let us say this is a chance to do something worthy for our parents. At this time, our parents become the elders of the family believe me the treasure of ‘life experiences’ that the aging parents have; is immensely helpful for a better functioning of the family.

A family, who takes advices and suggestions from the elders (parents) and give respect to the same and also follow it, is the happiest family of all. Aging parents are very tender at heart and it is also the time when they begin to feel little insecure and hesitant, they economically become dependent on their children and seek a kind of firm security at their increasing age. They perceive their aging period as the time to rest and enjoy it with their grand-children. Even after getting older they still want to give more and more to their families, they are always ready to take care of their grand-children and want to be an integral part of the family.Taking care of the aging parents in the family, is itself an art that every young individual (children and grandchildren) should know and learn. Never think that aging parents are not good enough or never mistake to take them for granted in their older age rather one should be much more supportive and benevolent towards their older parents.

Following points would discuss about how should one behave and understand their aging parents in order to create the same magic with them that they created for us when we were small and when we needed their care and concern.

Be empathetic and a good listener: the aging parents are like kids they behave and think like small children. This is the age when they need to be heard patiently. Do you remember when you were small and you used to ask numerous of questions and behave awfully. Your parents still behaved humbly and tried to understand you in every respect. So, how can you be rude and irritated with your aging parents who now seek your little attention, time and concern? Thus, be empathetic and a good listener with your aging parents. Believe me, they expect the least from you, they are very happy with your little gestures of saying hello, touching their feet, asking them about their wellbeing. Be humble and make them feel that they are still important for you.

Be tolerant: there might be clashes in thought and mentalities between you and your parents. Some situations take place in every family when parents and children do not agree on the same thing so that doesn’t mean that the children become rebellious and inhumane. This is the only time where the children should implement their tolerance power and try to find a middle path that is suitable for both the parents and the children. Losing one’s patience with the aging parents is an immensely shameful act. There were many a times when your parents sacrificed their own happiness and comforts, they also changed their mentalities and ideas just to support your ideas and plans. So, why not to be tolerant in the situation where the ideas of parents need to be understood?

Make them feel independent: most of the aging parents who are retired from their work tend to feel little insecure and economically dependent on their children. Particularly if there is a single parent, he/she feels extremely hesitant in asking for some financial help from the children. But I would rather put it in this way that; it is the ‘DUTY’ of the children to look after the needs of their parent/single parent after their retirement or when they are aging. No matter they receive any pension or not still it is the biggest responsibility of the children to take care of the parents in every respect (economic, mental, social, medical need). Children must take care of the basic and other needs in a well manner. Parents would never say or beg for their wishes but it is the duty of the children to ask them about what they need and want.

Show them the best time of their lives: Remember, in your childhood your parents have always wished to see that lovely grin on your face? Just that, you feel happy and enjoy yourself they used to take out for outings and recreational activities. And when now, just because your parents are aging, does it prove that they do not need any recreational activity in their life? Certainly not! Children should make their aging parents feel that there is still more left to be explored and enjoyed in their lives. Take your parents out for an outing or some recreational activity (fun, watching movie, shopping, etc.) along with the whole family. This will add a new spark in their life.

Prepare your children to look after them: it is being said and believed too that the grandchildren would always be much more amiable to the parents than their own children. Earlier they used to take care of their children and once they see the glowing faces of their grandchildren they feel they are in heaven. They so enthusiastically take care of their grand-children and help them to grow well. Here, I want to add one important thing and that is that when we see our aging parents taking care of our small children, we feel so happy and that is obvious too. But here only we should also teach our children to be reciprocated towards their grand-parents as well. Grand-parents will always cherish taking care of their grand-children selflessly, but when they are reverted back with more affection and regard from their grand-children nothing more can make them happy! The young parents in the family should teach the small children to be helpful, supportive, understanding and be friendly with their grand-parents.

Make them feel; they are still an integral part of the family: we all as the young ones and being matured in our family tend to do a mistake more often, and that is to ignore and underestimate the words, advices and experiences of our aging parents. We feel that they rather know nothing and better since they are staying in home all the times and it is only us who know everything better. This is where we knowingly or unknowingly make our aging parents feel being neglected and least wanted. This mistake should be rectified if we are committing it most often. Aging parents need to be felt important and integral part. For them also, we were the whole world, their day used to begin with us and ended with us and now if suddenly we make them feel that they no more have any importance for us, then how disgusting it will make them feel? The efforts the older parents have had put in for their children, should be appreciated and recognized by their own children and grand-children.

Never make them isolated: isolation is like a poison for the aging parents, it slowly and gradually kills them and it is in fact the same for everyone. Aging parents should always be taken along. It is much obvious that you cannot sit at the home all the times, one has to move out of the home for work and other tasks but when you are at home make sure that you never make your aging parents feel; left alone. What else does it mean to be in a family? However, in the modern times, particularly in the nuclear families the young parents and the children tend to ask for more privacy and some of them find the aging parents to be disturbing in their personal spaces. But they should understand the fact that sharing the space and time with the aging parents will help them releasing their anxieties and to make them refreshed. Talking to old people is actually a fun as well as an enriching task in itself.

Thus, the aging parents should be given their due of love, time, care and attention. We should never forget whatever our parents have done for us, they did it so devotedly and selflessly then why when it comes to do the same for them, becomes an obligation? It should never be so; rather one should take it, as a privilege and a blessing of the God that they have got a chance to do something for the parents. The blessing and the best wishes given directly by the hearts of the parents are miraculous. It is good to earn money but the one who can earn the wealth of blessings of his/her parents is the most blessed and wealthy person in this world. We are Indians, who have always learnt to respect and love the parents, we have learnt to create and unite a healthy family. We understand the value of family and parents in our lives and that is why we should never miss any chance to tell our parents that how much we love them and to bring joy and peace for our family.

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