Family – Your Parachute and Anchor

10 September, 2019

Do you often feel frustrated with your parents? Do you feel like they do not understand you? Do you think that it would be better if you just left everything and went away, doing your own stuff? Well, believe it or not, you are not alone. These questions are more common than you think and you often have to navigate these short-fused urges for harmony in the longer run. In these serialised blog posts (we’ve divided the content into three parts) we will tell you how and why family is important.

Realising that parents are born through our relationship with them, we should understand that they are human and as prone to making mistakes as us.

Being an adolescent is tough (especially now, with so many opportunities and demands that have revised expectations upwards) but do keep in mind that your parents are also bringing you up for the first time (they have had no prior training dealing with you), and that they are human and as prone to making mistakes as you. These may not have been obvious to you when you were child, because you never questioned the authority of your elders and believed everything they said word for word. But as you grow up you realise that (alas!) everything is not as absolute as it seems and that you did not spring from heaven; so empathy and compassion go a long way in establishing strong bonds during this tumultuous phase. 

Adolescence has been dubbed as a “turbulent phase of development” and during this stage, it is not only important but critical to have healthy and responsible family support. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the adolescent population stands at 21.4% (almost one-fifth) of the Indian population or 243 million (so there are many such confused and angry people out there!) This sizeable proportion of the population undergoes all kinds of pressures which can be broadly classified into academic, physical and emotional changes. In the article below, we will walk you through how you can effectively deal with them.

Being compassionate and reasonable with your family is a healthy way to keep your relationship going.

Academic:

You might prefer a career in music or dance, or dabble in photography (or even want a new gadget); and with the onset of dramatised movies that encourage you to “follow your dreams at any cost”—such aspirations are very tempting. While this may sound very compelling, remember success is tough and requires hard work and a lot of disappointments on the way. The world out there is difficult (which you probably have had no experience of) AND your parents have already been through this phase. While they don’t mind seeing you as a successful dancer/musician or photographer, understand that their worries come from a very different understanding of the world. They want you to be HAPPY and COMFORTABLE, so talk them through your plans and seek advice. Be reasonable with them and prioritise what you can do and what should be done. Their experiences and wisdom are not unreasonable, but draw from various concerns and hopes from you. Respect these and they in turn will respect what you want do.

Also understand that some of our “dreams” that we have for ourselves are not based in reality or understanding and may be whimsical, (like think about it: do you really really love music to make a career out of it? If yes, do you have the skills or training to do so? How will you start? What kind of music would like to create? Where do you think you could start and how?

 The bottom-line is that very few of actually think about these things a priori, but just get enamoured by the prospect of the career choice rather than the career itself.

So if your parents are not very forthcoming, don’t just write them off, work on your dream and prove to yourself and them why you need this AND also think about how you will get there. Both these should be well charted out, and not random. Keep them informed (even if not about everything, but about the things that matter), because at the end of the day they will always want the best from you and will be (and should be) your first line of defence should anything happen to you.

Talk, talk, talk…A lot can be achieved by talking things through.

Capitalise on effective communication.

They know more about the world than you think. Really!

 

Emotional:

Since they’ve already gone through the same emotional mess that you are going through now, seek help when you are confused. Often times, voicing out things to your siblings/parents and/or a trusted family member can solve the problem. Also when you say them out loud, you might also realise that they are not as difficult as you had considered them to be. Further, while voicing out your difficulties to your peers, remember while they may “seem to understand you”, they are ultimately in the same boat as you. While it is good to have good friends and a dependable friend-support, it is important to exercise caution while heeding to their advice. At the end of the day it is only your family that knows you and understands you (even if you think otherwise) and has unconditional expectations from you.

 

It is alright to break down, fight and get angry in your relationship with your parents/ family. They do that too (though it might seem otherwise to you). You’re growing up and ceasing to be a dependent child is as new to them as it is for you to experience their temper and your frustration. At the end of the day, talk to them, keep them on board and they will come about. 

 

Physical:

Adolescence is also marked by obvious physical changes and there are pressures from all corners to “look a certain way” or “do certain things” that might earn you the tag of being “trendy”, else you might be ridiculed for been “outdated” or “odd”. Today these pressures are coupled with influencers across the internet, telling people to dress and/or live a certain way. While being health and image conscious is definitely very rewarding personally, but it is not and should not distract you from whatever else you would like to achieve. At the same time, no one wants to be the odd one out but remember that these pressures are endless and unknowingly gnaw at the essence of who you are. Understand your aspirations and work towards them, don’t change for the world or for conformity: you are uniquely you. No one but your parents and family know this better, so be patient when they advice you. It is for your betterment.

 

Talk to an elder or professional (if you think your parents may be dismissive or unwelcoming about such conversations) about the emotional changes you are going through. Understand that your family are your people (No, they are not the enemy!). Tendencies of feeling frustrated, angry, misunderstood and confused are commonplace, so voice them out or write them down and discuss them. Understand you need help (and it is not embarrassing to admit that you need help. Contrary to what movies portray, you are not Captain America or Wonder woman yet!)

Adolescence is a transitional phase from childhood into maturity and while you may want to bulldoze your way into adulthood, that is not how nature has ordained it to be. For your parents you are still a child: so make them walk with you in this journey. And once they have been convinced about your capability, they will let go off your hand easily. Adolescence is a process and takes time, and this process is unique to each person (so don’t compare your growth with that of others. While they might seem very mature at the outset, they might be just as lost or confused as you). Be kind and give yourself and others space, time and deal with them with patience—as this is cornerstone of any lasting relationship. Understand that your family is your safety-net and that they hold the key to the repository of value education imparted to you (which you may not appreciate or understand now, but will fall back on when you grow up). Family is also your first teacher (it is at home that you learn the importance of time, building inter-personal relationships, the importance of patience and so on) and it constitutes the basic unit of your social and moral fabric.

 

Also understand that some of our “dreams” that we have for ourselves are not based in reality or understanding and may be whimsical, (like think about it: do you really really love music to make a career out of it? If yes, do you have the skills or training to do so? How will you start? What kind of music would like to create? Where do you think you could start and how?

 The bottom-line is that very few of actually think about these things a priori, but just get enamoured by the prospect of the career choice rather than the career itself.

 

So if your parents are not very forthcoming, don’t just write them off, work on your dream and prove to yourself and them why you need this AND also think about how you will get there. Both these should be well charted out, and not random. Keep them informed (even if not about everything, but about the things that matter), because at the end of the day they will always want the best from you and will be (and should be) your first line of defence should anything happen to you.

Family should be your safety-net. They are your repository of value education and your first teachers of a host of important life skills.