Our relationship with our parents is, of course, an important one. From our earliest years, psychologists tell us that the bonds we form (or don’t) with our primary caregivers can dictate how we develop, and form relationships with others – as well as relationships with ourselves.
In many ways, I feel very fortunate when it comes to my parents. On a basic level, I have a mother and father who are in a relationship together, and both are relatively happy (they have their moments, for sure) and healthy. In addition, they both had a very different childhood/youth to myself and my brother.
Mum was the eldest of a group of siblings, and was helping to run the household from the age of about 10. My dad was the youngest of a group of siblings, and the first to go to university. My grandparents on both sides had been born in India, only to latterly move over to India. Mum and dad both worked incredibly hard to create a better standard of living for themselves, and as a result my brother and I were given a good education, a decent standard of living and annual family holidays.
Mum is a worrier. She’s a warrior, too, in many ways – but she’s also a worrier. I picked up on this from an early age, and I learnt to act/respond in a way that’d put her at ease, not stress her out, and keep her off my back. I’ve always been closer to my mum than my dad. I still give her hugs and enjoy time we spend together in the evenings, watching something together (including most of the ‘What I’m watching’ items on the last (and very first) awkward newsletter – e.g. The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and Rebecka Martinssen: Arctic Murders).
Am I a mummy’s boy? Aware that this has all sorts of connotations and can put off girls/women in a heartbeat… I probably am in some ways. My mother and I are quite close. Even if I didn’t talk to her about stuff/my worries and so forth (I didn’t talk to anyone about these). Whilst dad was working, mum spent time raising me and my brother, from feeding us, through to picking us up from school (I was 14 or 15 until I started getting the train, and mum or grandad stopped giving me lifts #spoiltIndianboy). It’d be mum that’d ask how school was, about how we had done in the Maths test, and so forth.
MUm is a do-er. She’s one of those people who feels dissatisfied if she’s not done very much in a day. And by ‘not very much’, I actually mean a lot. My mum and dad also work together, which has it’s challenges. I sometimes question if they’d get along better if they didn’t have to see each other all the time at work, as well as live together. Who knows. I’m not sure if I could do that with my future lady.
My dad is pretty different to my mum. He’s a bit more chilled out, and a lot more closed-off. He’s a closed book when it comes to emotions. This is common amongst Indian men – particularly of that generation and older. His mother raised several children, and his father was often away travelling from work, passing away when my dad was in his late teens; it sounds like my father was raised by his siblings. It’s not easy to communicated with him, and we’ve clashed in the past. We went through a period where we barely interacted; especially as dad often does his own thing, anyway. I’m pleased to say that we both make a bit more of an effort now. It can still feel awkward when I’m talking to my dad, because it’s not something we really did for a while, despite being under the same roof for most of my life. My therapist says this is to be expected, as we get used to doing it more. It feels like we’re closer than we’ve ever been. Or for a long time.
Mum, Dad and I are off to the cinema together next week (at time of writing), something we’re all excited about. Younger bro is away having fun of his own. We’re going to watch Oscar-nominated Lady Bird.
They say our personalities are a mix of nature and nurture. Whilst I don’t blame my parents for my being the way I am, my feeling is that my mum’s being so worried coupled with my dad being a closed book, are both things that have constituted to my being so guarded and private. And my finding it so difficult to express my emotions. Bottled up emotions can lead to unhealthy actions and addictions. When my dad is stressed, he seems to drink more. When I’m stressed, I go in on myself and spend time mindlessly surging and flicking through the internet. And eating junk. It’s a pattern, and it can happen without my realising it.
I’m hoping to become more authentic, and by doing so also develop a closer and more honest relationship with my parents. As I’ve lived at home for all my life bar the two university years, it’s been difficult to break from the parent-child relationship, to more of an adult-adult one with each of them. It’s tricky, but we’re getting there.
Hopefully, these relationships with positively impact my wellbeing, my life, and the relationships I have with myself and others.
✏ Written: Saturday, 24th February 2018 @ 12.30pm
What about you?
What is your relationship like with your parents? How has it changed over the years, from childhood to adulthood? Are you closer with one, than the other? I’d love to hear about what it’s been like for you.