A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Until when?

Posted by Pepper on January 24, 2012

This post has been lying in my drafts for sometime. IHM’s recent post made me pull it out.

******

Until what age should parents make decisions for their children? That is one question that has baffled my mind forever. I was talking to an American friend of mine. She couldn’t stop complaining about her mother, who has the habit of calling her up if she isn’t home by 1 am. Honestly, I didn’t see anything wrong with a mother  being concerned if her child wasn’t home by a particular time at night. I asked her what was wrong with what her mom did and she said, “I am an adult for God’s sake! I don’t like being questioned about my whereabouts all the time. I will be where I want to, when I want to. I can make my own decisions and I hate it that she is constantly breathing down my back” I laughed. I told her a girl with her attitude would suffocate to death if she had to live with an Indian parent.

And then I thought about my own parents. I remember I had once gone for a friend’s birthday party. I told my parents I would be home by around 9 pm. I didn’t realise how time passed by, but it was 9 pm and I hadn’t even left. My friends kept urging me to stay for a while more. The birthday cake hadn’t even been brought out yet. So I called home and told my mom I would be late by an hour. She agreed. 10 pm, and I still had not left, neither had I realised the time. This time I got a call from my dad. I told him I hadn’t left yet and I was waiting for the cake cutting ceremony to take place. They were a little upset, and asked me to come home as soon as I can. I don’t really know what happened, but I stayed there waiting for the cake cutting to take place. Each time my parents called, I bargained for some more time. It was midnight before I knew it. That is when they brought out the cake. My parents were furious, and I kept getting calls every 15 minutes. I assured my dad that her driver would drop me back home, but that didn’t seem to help. By the time I got back home, it was 1 am. They were really mad at me. I apologised. We spoke about it and resolved the matter. They told me they didn’t want me coming back so late again. I understood. I was 20 years old then. My late nights were few and few in between, so that was never an issue with us. I respected their decision, because I knew they laid this restriction upon me only because my safety was their concern.

However, from what I have seen, most Indian parents are illogical and continue to assert their authority on their child their entire life. In India, we are made to believe, our parents are akin to God. Their will can never be questioned. So you only continue to be your parents child all your life, when do you get to be an individual who makes his own decisions?

Let me share an incident at this point. When Mint told his parents he wants to come to India for a day to surprise me on my birthday, they told him in clear terms that he cannot come. They will not allow it. He was an almost 26 year old adult, earning his own money, thinking for himself, I wondered how they could just slam their decision on his face like that? But well, they could. They believed he is their son and that gives them all right to make a decision for him. I wished he had argued, fought back and told them he was going to go. Instead, he chose to keep the whole visit a secret from them,  because he didn’t want to deal with them. My parents were against the idea of him not telling his parents, but what can they do? It was ultimately his decision. He requested my parents to keep it secret too. And so they did. Two days before we got married, his dad happened to go through Mint’s passport. That is when he saw the date stamps that told him Mint had actually come to India for a day during my birthday, despite their disapproval. Things got messy at that point. Very messy, because it happened just 2 days before our wedding ceremony took place. They were not only mad at Mint, they were also mad at my parents for deceiving them like that. I don’t blame them. But who can I blame here?

Till date, Mint’s parents do not “allow” their sons to drink. Both their sons are adults, financially independent ones at that. If they cannot chose for their own selves now, then when will they? Or are they never permitted to make their own decisions in life, because they will always remain their parents children?

I pierced my nose at 19. My dad hated it. I went and got a second piercing on my ear, he hated it even more. Then I went and got a third one done. He told me how much he disliked it, but also told me l could do what I want. He cannot choose for me, because I am now an adult. I was so grateful to him. I wanted to get those piercings done, and I was glad I could do what I want. My friend, with who I got the piercing done had to hide it from her parents. Each time she would go home, she would take off her nose stud and her earrings.

When at 18 we went to Goa for an industrial visit with our college, a friend of mine was not granted permission. Why? Because  apparently Goa is not a nice place to go. No further explanations. No questioning allowed. She had no choice but to abide by their decision. She still regrets not going for that trip. She still feels she missed out on a lot of fun, the kind of fun that can never be revived. I find it hard to accept this, but I will still give it to her parents. Their daughter was in her teens, maybe, just maybe they could still make a decision for her.

When we are kids, our parents make decisions on our behalf because as children, our brains are not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. At that stage, parents do know best! But once our brains develop fully, we should be left to make our own choices. I strongly believe it is a cultural thing. In India, our idea of respect is intermingled with the word ‘agreement’. By that logic, if I disagree with my parents, I do not respect them. That logic is completely flawed.

Then there is the issue of right and wrong. Parents might genuinely think their adult child is making the wrong choice. That makes them want to protect their children from the impending outcome. They do not want their children to experience, what they believe is ‘bad’. I still believe, your adult children should be left to make their own mistakes. Let them find have their own definitions of right and wrong. You cannot control your adult child’s choice all your life, even if you mean well.

So now when I see my 25 year old adult friends not being allowed to get tattoos done, not being permitted to streak their hair, not being permitted to drink, not being permitted to choose their own partners, not being permitted to go dancing in a club, not being permitted to wear what they want, not being permitted to live the way they want to, I feel really bad. I don’t think they are living a free life. And the sad part is, I don’t think they ever will. Not as long as their parents are alive. And after that, it might be too late. It’s sad. Really sad.

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61 Responses to “Until when?”

  1. R's Mom said

    loved loved loved your post…

    let me tell you something….I have realised AFTER I became a mother (i know I know…I am a late bloomer) that the more restrictions you put, the more the kids will rebel…I love my parents because they let us decide..right from the start..if they thought we were wrong…they would just mention it but gave us the freedom to look back and confirm ourselves if we were right or wrong…

    RD’s case is pretty much like Mint..he doesnt tell a lot of things to his parents because he doesnt want to get into the yesing and noing…

    You and I are lucky Pepper, and I am thanking God profusely for that

  2. I was reading the comments as a parent. And, I agree, parents need to understand that after a point children have to live their own lives. And if we have raised them well, the choices will not harm them.

  3. Gayatri said

    Wow! 25 year olds not being permitted to get tattoos, hair color and go dancing in a club is a bit extreme. I love the way your parents raised you. My folks were the same. One night I was given no deadline and I shamelessly walked in at 4:30. I was 18. They didn’t say a word nor did they give me silent guilt. But it took me all of 30 seconds to realize I was pushing my freedom. I never stayed out that late again.

    • Pepper said

      Sometimes not badgering you with questions and accusations is the best way to to make you realise what you’ve done. Each time I thought I was pushing my freedom, I stopped doing what I was too. The point is, we agreed to give it up on our own, because we were raised in a way in which we could identify our own mistakes. And also give up on something without regrets.

  4. Sig said

    I get this totally. It’s funny – I’ve grown up in Australia as far away from India as possible and my parents put so much restrictions on me that even my cousin’s back home were surprised at their conservativeness. The difference was, I tended to assert myself when I felt they were being very illogical (which was pretty much all the time :P) and basing their decisions on their thinking as if they were still living in India.

    I got my nose pierced at 19 without telling my mum as well – she cracked it, but only for a day or so, because she knew I’d be wanting to do it since I was 15. I asked her why she was so mad and it was the fact I had made that decision without her rather than anything else. But pretty much my whole adult life, up until the point I was married (ha see a point there?) they ‘forbid’ me to go out with my friends, wear what I wanted without giving me grief, see Evs “too much – i.e. I couldn’t go on trips with him etc” (although to be fair once we had been going out for 3-4 years + they kind accepted the fact that he wasn’t going anywhere and welcomed him).

    A lot of it was cultural and I understand the difficulty in having moved from something they believed was right to a whole new way of thinking, but it was the fact that I was considered an adult for all other purposes (driving, voting, getting a job, getting married!!!) however I wasn’t able to live life on my terms.

    It’s hugely better now since I am married – they don’t interfere (except for my mum who still drops very unsubtle hints about having babies otherwise people might think there is something ‘wrong’ with me. I shocked her by saying – I don’t want kids, I have my two doggies :P). And the sad part is, I actually believe that a small part of it is still their thinking that I am no longer ‘their’ responsbility but Evs’. *rolls eyes*

    • Pepper said

      My cousins who are born and brought up in the US once told me that their parents, and other Indian parents’ view of India is often that of what it was in the 1960-70’s, That is when they moved out of India. India changed a lot after that, but they are not in the loop anymore. So for their kids, it’s harder to live with parents like that. I suppose your case is similar.
      And oh, don’t get me started on the daughter being the husband’s responsibility after marriage. I wanted to write about a lot of those things, but my post would never end :|

  5. Anusha said

    How do you come out with all these topics….I suppose all of us notice what you wrote but then writing in such details….. Kudos to you !!!!

    It is very correct that in India disagreement with parents is taken as disrespecting them….The mindset in the society is lesser towards individuality….and that makes decision making left upon them be it careers or drinking or choosing partners….

    I had a similar incident where I came home late from a birthday party, I was 16 or something,and was barred to attend the next party….but after that I was never questioned about where I was going and what time I would be back….May be because I took care to inform and did not want my parents to worry unnecessarily….and I was assured that they were just concerned about my security….

    Me and my sis were given independence to chose priorities and were never forced upon what my parents thought was right….though we had disagreements but everything was and continues to be discussed openly and sorted out…. just requires a little more understanding and logic from both ends I feel…

    • Pepper said

      Ultimately, I think parents who are open to discussion are the kinds who are willing to consider another point of view. I am glad your parents fall into this category. A lot of parents are so blind, there is absolutely no scope to ‘discuss’. Because in their eyes, you are obviously wrong and you should not do what you want to do. If you still talk about it, you are going against their wishes and thereby not being a good and respectful child. Sigh.

  6. Neha said

    True Pepper.I think one thing that parents shold understand is that a 25 yr or plus person is independent and intellectual enough to make a decision, whether the decesion is as insignificant as going for a piercing or as big as chosing a life partner.

    • Pepper said

      Neha, in my opinion even a 20 year old should be able to exercise his/her choice freely. Atleast when it comes to choices like piercing your nose and other stuff like that. I honestly do not think I have seen any mental growth in myself after I turned 17. I still think and feel the same way. I think I was very capable of choosing for myself even then, but I would be okay if my parents decided for me at that age.
      I would say a parent can decide for you until you finish your teens. After that, they should be around to guide you and make you aware of all the possible consequences of your actions. If you still want to go ahead and do something, they should stop thinking in terms of “allow” and “don’t allow”. Then again, that is just my opinion.

  7. Harini said

    A very very thought provoking topic! I have always thought about this and I am always confused at the end of the day! I have the exact same parents as yours, ones who never interfere with my desicions for the most part. Of course, I have had arguments on certain topics like pre marital sex or living together with them which they cant digest, but hey I dont blame them. They are a generation older than us and I am happy that they are ready to atleast discuss these topics with me rather than just brand them taboo.

    My two cents on this topic would be to be truthful to your parents and make them understand what you are doing is not wrong by your conscience. Because opinions differ and what may be right for someone needn’t be right to the next person as well. But at the same time, I would want to empathize on the parent’s situation and make them understand and give them time because, as difficult as it is for us to change our ways its twice as difficult for them to understand our lifestyle because:

    1.) They are older than us, which means they have led almost twice our life spans believing what they think is right. When someone is set on their ways of thinking for such a long time, it defn takes time to change it or even accept the other point of view.

    2.) Most parents are ultra concerned about our own safety and well being and when they forbid us from doing something they think its for our own good. Considering they have raised us with such love for so many years I really think they deserve to atleast know what we are upto and are provided some explanations on why we choose to do what we do, in order to make them understand instead of just blatantly stating “I’ll do whatever the hell I want to. You dont interfere”.

    On the same vein I would be very happy to see parents making an effort to understand rather than just dissing the whole thing without even giving us a chance to explain things to them and make them understand.

    • Pepper said

      Harini, I used to think exactly like you until I got married. I would never hide anything from my parents. If they disapproved my choice, we would fight. It would result in either a) Me convincing them of my choice b) Them convincing me against it. We heard each other’s point of view and in the end, if I had to give up something, I gave it up without regrets because my parents spoke pure reason and logic that I did not want to defy. Or else, they willingly let me do what I wanted to, because they could not dispute what I had to say.

      Which is why, when I saw the amount Mint hides from his parents, I was appalled. I told him to speak up, make them understand his point, be gentle but firm, but don’t hide so much. Now that I have been married for almost 2 years, I realise how impossible it is to talk to them about certain things. Of course, neither of us would be insensitive enough to tell them “we will do what we want, you don’t interfere”. We want to explain, we want to have a mutual exchange of ideas, we want to tell them gently why we are right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. If we as much as open our mouth to say what we want and why we want it, it will result in tears, in hard feelings, in anxiety and self pity.

      And no, their disapproval does not always arise out of concern for our safety. Most of the times the things they do not permit us to do do not put our safety at risk in anyway. Their intention is good, no doubt. They genuinely believe we are in the wrong, and so they believe we should abide by their choices without a question, because they are the parents and we are the children.

      We can either
      1) Give up all that we really want to do and believe is right and just live the life they want us to live.
      2) Constantly battle it out for EVERY SINGLE THING.That would mean a life with absolutely no joy or respite.
      3) Do what we want on the sly.

      Clearly, option number 3 is the easiest. As much as I dislike living that way, I have realised it’s the only way you can really live :)

  8. hAAthi said

    I come from a family where my parents have always been liberal and open and never interfered in my choices. While they kept a close eye on me, and gave me their opinions and inputs when they felt I might be faltering, they never imposed their choices/opinions on me. Several times, I made wrong choices and fell flat on my face. But they were always there to watch my back, when I got back on my feet and learned from the consequences of my own actions. I feel I have been blessed to have such an upbringing, because it has made me fiercely independent and gave me the courage to make some of the bravest choices I have in my life.
    Then I married a boy who was the apple of his parents eyes :) But their idea of parenting was entirely different. A lot of coercion got passed off in the name of concern and care and the whole as-your-parents-we-know-whats-best-for-you. I only realised the extent to which this can be damaging after we were married. Thankfully though, the husband was quick to open his eyes to this and start standing up for himself and his choices..
    The thing about parenting is it has such a bearing not only on the child, but the adult he/she grows up to be, the kind of husband/wife he will make and eventually the kind of parent he/she ends up being. I is such a dicey thing, and I often worry that nobody realises the actual consequences of it.
    Sorry for the ramble, but this post too (like SOOOO many others from the pages of your life here) struck a chord with me.

    • Pepper said

      You said exactly what I feel. A few times I have made bad choices, despite my parents warning me against them. They have mostly been unimportant choices. But when they turned out to be wrong, I learnt from my mistakes. My parents were there to pick me up, to hold me and support me. Other parents around me only told their children, “I told you so,” You really don’t want to hear those words when you are bruised already. If there was a lesson in this for me, I learnt it already. I don’t need to be reminded of the ‘Parents know best’ philosophy you operate by.
      Yes – parenting has a bearing not only on the child, but even the adult or partner he/she will ultimately become. I wish more parents realised that. You’ve put it so well.

      • hAAthi said

        THe stark contrast I have seen in the way I was brought up and the way the husbands family operates around children, has made me change my mind about having children. Now I worry if I will ever be able to give them my kind of parenting with the influence of my in laws all the time. I dont want to have children anymore. I have this strong feeling that there is far too much at stake.

        PS: I mailed you, because I had to get that overwhelming feeling of this-is-exactly-like-me out of my system!

        • Pepper said

          That is one fear I have always had too. I want to have kids without them being influenced by my in law’s narrow views. At the same time, I think it is very unfair to keep the kids away from their doting grandparents. I would not like doing that either. So this is one thing I have stopped thinking about. I tell myself I will deal with it when we get there. If this is the only reason you’ve given up on the idea of having kids, are you sure you won’t regret it at a later stage in life?

          PS: Replied :)

          • hAAthi said

            I cant say Iv given up. Iv put it off for later.
            Then theres also the other part where Im mortally afraid of all things to do with doctors, inflicting pain on oneself, hospitals and the like.. So yeah, not much hope.
            Also, I dont have those maternal instincts like I see my other married friends having.. I dont look at babies and think “oh i want oneeee!” I just think, “Oh theyre cute/entertaining for short spans of time” :P

            • Pepper said

              Oh, I hear you soul sister. I can’t imagine any of my body parts expanding enough to let a baby wriggle out, neither can I imagine being cut open :P I don’t have maternal instincts either. I do look at babies and think ‘I want oneee!” But then I see how much care they require. I don’t know if I can deal with the responsibility of another being. I am too lazy to arrange for a meal and eat myself. I am too lazy to shower myself. Imagine having to keep healthy meals ready and feeding and bathing and rocking the baby at all times. It’s scary! And then there is the matter of my husband saying he never wants to have kids :|

              So yeah. I’ve put it off for now too. I keep saying I will think of it once I become more responsible.

  9. Bikram said

    a tough question to reply.. but if the parents an kids are talking ot each other then it shud not matter what AGE.. its all about talking the kids tell parents what they want and parents if they like the idea say yes , if not then instead of saying NO , should try to give their view as to why it was no .. and the kids might actually then see a different view and understand..

    I was in second year of college when i took up a job , inspite of my parents against it as they wanted me to study and spend time on that but i was never good in studies , so i asked my dad why, he told mehe wanted me to finish my studies , I told him done I will be finishing my studies and i did he was happy, and i did what i did.. From then on both my parents never questioned anything .. although I always sat and made sure they knew exactly why or what i was doing and sometimes dad would say otherwise and i did accept that he was more intelligent then me and knew far more and it helped me listening ot them ..

    the problem these days I think is parents wants a hold and want kids to live their life hence the do this or that .. luckily i did not have that strict parents they always listened to my side tooo

    I agree that you shud be left to make ur own mistakes but then IF you can learn from someone else’s experience then its worth it tooo .. hence talking helps ..

  10. Tan said

    I too have felt that this is an Issue of concern. There are worse scenarios. I have married friends who feel really frustrated due to constantly interefering parents/in-laws. These young couples feel very suffocated when their parents/in-laws try to impose the major decisions of their life like “when to have a baby”, “where to work/settle down”, “what kind of house should be bought” etc etc. I pity the adults more than the kids because of the restricted freedom they give their children.

  11. OMG pepper, I am reading your blog after a long time and the first post I read is this one. I can’t agree more with you on this. When I am late my mom calls me every ten minutes. Its funny how parents think we can not take our decisions even when we are adults. And trust me they never stop, my grandparents still call my mom and her siblings when they get late. Its erratic but probably parents can’t help because they are concerned.

    • Pepper said

      Oh they’re definitely concerned. They can surely voice their concerns and tell us what they think is right. But beyond that, they should really let go. They can’t make us live in a cage just because they are scared we will fly and endanger ourselves right?.. :)

  12. RK said

    This topic is very close to my heart, Pepper! I remember days where I was strictly not allowed to go to the movies with my college friends!Once I started earning, things got even worse! I had lot of office related get-togethers to attend which used to be after office hours and people were taking 100% care of all ladies and dropping till the door and all…still my parents worried ‘what the neighbour aunty will think”?!! I had mentaly made a note to myself in such occassions that with my kids, I am going to handle it in a better way! I totally respect their worry on safety and all…but giving neighbour aunty’s thoughts as reason was something I could not take it!
    Reasoning out in a proper way is something I try in my parenting!

    • RK said

      Also, me / friends / cousins constantly got this dialogue from our parents – “you can do whatever u want after marriage”! aggghhhhh.

      • Pepper said

        I am glad you realised how difficult it was to deal with that kind of parenting and decided to be different with your kids. My mom always tells me stories about the million restrictions imposed on her by her father. She was not allowed to stand outside her college and talk to her friend even for 2 minutes, because her father would not permit her to reach home late even by 2 minutes. Going anywhere other than college was out of the question for her. She decided she wouldn’t bring up her kids that way. So ultimately it is what you take out of your environment. I know parents who impose restrictions on their kids because their parents imposed the same restrictions.

        And oh please don’t get me started on that dialogue.

  13. I totally get it from the child’s perspective. After a certain age, especially when one is financially independent, the parental control seems absurd.

    I have lied to mine at various levels to get my way without the hassle of argument. They did not permit me participate in college dance competitions, or wear jeans or have a boy friend (duh!) I still did them all and then later got tagged ‘a bad rebel’ by family when they found out.

    But, now that I am a parent, makes me think from the other side of the fence.I love my little toddler and I decide what is good and what is not.When she grows up to be a teenager, I’ll still probably decide for her. But, it shall not be ‘rule enforcement’. There are nicer ways to do the same, isn’t there? I plan to befriend my girl and tell her what I feel..and hopefully she’ll get it. Whatever the case, hiding facts would be the last I would want her to do.

    PS: I need some crash course from your parents. They seem super cool, really! :)

    • Pepper said

      AHK, incase I make it sound like my parents did not bind me with any rules, I should tell you that it isn’t true. They were just rational and logical beings for the most part. They didn’t have any particular pattern or rule book for parenting. They went with the flow. If we encountered hurdles in the form of disagreements, we spoke about them and sorted it out. Either they convinced me, or I convinced them. We’ve had a very hassle free relationship and I don’t think that is hard to achieve at all. All you have to do is keep an open mind and not be rigid.This includes both, the parent and the child.

      Yes, rule enforcement rarely works. You might want to tell your teenage daughter what you think is right and what you believe is wrong. You will always guide her, but I also know you will be an understanding parent who will hear her out too. It is always so good to weigh the pros and cons and then make a decision together with your parent :)

  14. Some parents(including my mother) follow the parenting style of their parents, relaxing on a thing or two, convincing themselves that they are cooler and friendlier than their parents were. Throughout the 23 years I lived with her, she does not know about one instance of a movie I watched with my friends. I asked her once, things got dirty, she did not ‘allow’ me and I didn’t bother to let her know again. And that is just one example.

    Do I feel burdened not letting her know the true me – no. Do I feel guilty – no. Do I feel distant from her – no. Like you said, it is best for her and my peace of mind that she is kept out of some details. The confrontation is not worth the harm it will cause. One might argue that if she discovers things by herself, that would cause a lot of harm too. But that is still only a possibility while damage from confrontation is a definite given.

    I have thought long about this Pepper and I feel that ‘adult-children’ should not be dragged down the guilt route for leading secret lives or any controlling parents’ parenting be ostracized. Controlling stems out of fear, when they are scared ‘for’ you or ‘of’ you. And they don’t let go because they don’t know how it feels for themselves as they are being controlled by other elements. Letting go for them is like caring less.

    When the society changes, a few unfortunate souls get caught in two different time zones. From where I am standing, one can only wait out the difference, not change it overnight.

    • Pepper said

      Brilliantly said CR! It has taken me a while to get here. All my life, I believed children who are not open with their parents are wrong. I felt this way, perhaps because I had never experienced such extreme rigidity. Now that I have, I realise how futile the confrontations are. I don’t blame the rigid parents either. They mean well. Neither do I blame the kids for living the way they want to. In such scenarios, it is best to keep certain details away from them.

  15. Everyday I thank my parents (especially mom) for not being imposing and the badgering kind. The only “strict-ness” imposed on us kids was in the field of education and health. No slacking in that. Other wise they did not care much who we hung around with, what time we came home, etc. I think it was this lax attitude in most of the things which made us be “good” and not push our limits. True, we have had our fights, but then there ALWAYS was room for discussion and conversation to sort things out. And after being adults, we were on our own. There was lots of advice and dos-donts, but it was just that-advice. Take it or dont take it kinds. and sometimes mom (when she gets senti) tells us that she is really proud of the individuals we have grown up to be, makes me want to thank her even more. :)

  16. G and his friends tell me this story from their college days. On a Saturday night, they all go out, have dinner, drink and make merry somewhere and come home late at around 1 or 2am. My MIL opens the door and lets them all sleep there that night sharing space in G’s and the guest bedroom. The next day, they’re all sheepish but MIL doesn’t ask them even a single question other than what they ate that night and where they were. After much such small talk and a hearty breakfast, they all go out again. Matter closed.
    Of course, my MIL knew they were all terribly wasted (she herself told me) but she also knew that they were grown men and could handle themselves. They were having fun and drinking once in a while with friends was no offense. I liked that attitude in my MIL. I think my inlaws have raised their children well in terms of combining independence with fun and responsibility.

    I, on the other hand, had some restrictions growing up. But they were never imposing. They would tell us about what they thought adding a “think about it” which kind of makes you REALLY think :D Funny thing with me was I kept falling flat many times but that didn’t deter me in any way to keep trying :D

    However, there was this one time in school when I wanted to go on a picnic and my mom didn’t let me go at all. I used to have an everyday fight with her to tell me why she wouldn’t let me go but she only told me she didn’t want to let me go when my dad wasn’t there (my dad was working in a different place at the time and we were living on our own in Blore). I couldn’t see that as a valid point. In the end, I didn’t go. And guess what? That was the day I got my periods for the first time !! :D Years later, when we were talking about that incident and laughing, I asked her again why she didn’t let me go on that trip and she said “I was short on money and I didn’t want to tell you that” ….and that broke my heart!

    I can’t think of any other instance where they have imposed anything on us sisters and have let us decide. We, hence, never had the opportunity or the reason to lie to them. If we wanted to go, they would know. If we didn’t want to go, even then they would know (ex:I didn’t go on that college trip because I had horrible “friends” at the time)

    I have told them when I wanted to wax my arms and legs because I wanted to get rid of the dense forestation! I have told them when I wanted to get my eyebrows threaded because no one has fish scales for eyebrows! I told them when I was seeing G because…well, he was a nice guy :) They stated their opinions on everything but let me decide what I wanted to do ultimately.

    The one thing they always told us though was to “wear what you want after you get married” which used to baffle me !!! If as parents they dont let us wear what we wanted, how would an outsider be ok with what I wore? was a question they could never answer. But luckily for me, what they said came true :D :D

    • Pepper said

      Wow! I am very impressed by the way your MIL dealt with the scenario concerning G and his friends.

      My heart broke with that picnic story too. The lesson here is that – everything happens for a reason, and that we shouldn’t doubt our parents. Either way, I would think they can decide for you considering you were still in school. It’s only when I see parents deciding for their 20 something kids that it starts to bother me.

      I waxed my legs for the first time when I was 13 or maybe 14, because I had a to participate in a dance show. I had to wear shorts and I had to be under glaring lights. I told my mom I wanted to wax. She said she wouldn’t allow it. It was too soon. I told her that was fine, but I would not be willing to participate in the dance program in that case. When you are 13 or 14, the days of innocence are gone. I wouldn’t want my hairy legs to be seen by the entire audience. Beside that, kids are cruel. They would make fun of me all my school life, scarring me further. She gave it some thought and then after a while allowed it, on the condition that I don’t wax regularly. Not for a few more years. I happily accepted that. From then to the time I was 19, I waxed a grand total of 3 times. Each time I had to reveal my legs in public. I think I had this conversation with R’s Mom once. She said she would not allow R to wax at 13, and that my mom was cool for letting me to do it. She said she would allow R to wax only at 16. I thought about it for sometime, wondering what a parent should ideally do if they were to be in a situation like my mom. Had my mom forced me to go on stage with hairy legs, I would have felt very humiliated. On the other hand, if I had to give up on the dance show, I would have felt a lot of regret. Parenting is tough :) I still think we should abide by what our parents choose for us until we are in our teens. But I also hope our parents are reasonable in their decisions.

      So anyway, I am curious to know. What would you do if you were in my mom’s place? And at what age did you start waxing and threading your eyebrows?

      • swetha said

        My mom took me to a parlor to get my legs waxed at 14, It was her decision, i didn’t care, but she gave me a choice, i can cut out skirts form my wardrobe and stick ot pants and salwar or i can wax and wear skirts !!!! soit was a no choice.

        i don’t remember waxing more than 2 or 3 times a yr…and much much prefered the not wearing skirts, but my mom was strict about unwanted hair etc., likewise wax your under arms or no sleeveless :-)

        i started my eyebrows when i hit collgege again mom seemed to think i should deforest …. go tmy first facial as a graduation treat – again from mom… yep she was a regular beauty queeen and put me thry my paces..

      • I think I would’ve done what your mom did – wax just that one time. Because like you said, kids can be cruel and that can be very hard to deal with at that age. I remember how I used to get comments from people in my class about the curly long hair on my arms and legs (the short sleeve shirt and skirt didn’t help one bit over that!).

        Thinking back now, I think my school days were much better than my college ones. One girl asked me why and what I’m waiting for to wax my arms on the very first day of college (I PUC)! We didn’t even know each other then. Just because she happened to be sitting next to me, she told me this. And I remember being very heart broken that day because (1) it was the first day and (2) a totally new crowd to deal with having left your old friends back.

        Finally when I started waxing and threading was when I was 19 or 20, I think. And I didn’t have anyone opposing/debating/questioning it at home then.

      • binpin said

        I love the conversation you girls have and somehow I always imagine what if all 3 of us were together what the conversation would be like.I was allowed to wax my underarm hair (otherwise I would have run away from home) but my mom didnt let me wax my legs/hands till 16*hairy monster rolls eyes* . She took me to thread my eyebrows and upper lip the day I finished Grade 12 exams. When I got home from threading my eyebrows, my brother called me an Alien:)

      • Pepper said

        Wow! Those are interesting responses.

        Swetha: Interesting. I don’t think my mom would have insisted either way. But yes, unwanted hair on the under arms for example, is unhygienic, especially if you sweat it out in the playground. If your skin is no longer sensitive and will not be harmed, then maybe doing away with it is sensible

        SnS: Yes, exactly. A few friends of mine who were not allowed to wax went and shaved their legs on the sly. I thought that was so much more harmful! I told my mom that too, that I didn’t want to be doing such things. So if she was really against me waxing, I would just back out of the dance. But I refused to go on stage with hairy legs. Anyway, you started waxing at 19 or 20? Then I see absolutely no reason for your parents to object. You are an adult, allowed to drive,to vote, to get married. I am sure they wouldn’t think of stopping you from having hair free limbs, if you wanted them! :D I thought they allowed you to wax despite you doing it an an earlier age. .

        Bins: My mom wasn’t too pleased with me waxing my arms and legs even at 16. :(. She would okay it only if there was a valid reason, i.e, if I had to wear something that exposed my arms and legs for a big occasion. I was okay with that arrangement. Maybe if I had really asked her to permit me to do it regularly, things would have been different. But for the most part, I didn’t care too much myself. At what age did you wax your underarms? You only said you did it before 16. You didn’t mention the age.

        • R's Mom said

          I got your mail Pepper :)

          and thank you for bringing this up..after that conversation we had on my blog…I thought what would I do if R is 13 and says she wants to wax..should I or should I not..

          Honestly, I will be the tiger mom and say..no I wont let her do it..I will ask her to wear skin colour stockings…yes yes I am evil that ways..

          in your case, I can understand your mom letting you do it because there were no such good stockings available at that time!!

          But again, all this I am telling now..after 10 years you can just come to me and say ‘RM, I told you so :)

          • Pepper said

            Oh of course if different alternatives are available, I don’t think it would be an issue at all. And I think I was a very reasonable child. If we had the option of good skin coloured stockings, I would not have asked for permission to be waxed at all.

            But here we are talking about cases in which alternatives are not available. So tell me tiger mom ji :D, if you were in my mom’s position, what would you do? Force her to go on stage with visibly hairy legs that would put her up for a lifetime of ridicule in school? Or ask her to not participate in the dance? Sorry, I know I am messing with your head :P

  17. Nova said

    Mama’s boys never grow up, do they?

  18. Nisha said

    Well, as an adult I was not allowed to do a lot of things. If I had to go somewhere I was given a driver. Gradually I got my own car and was allowed to drive anywhere. I dated as well without my parents knowledge. No one ever said it, but I was always home by 8. I never went on vacations with my friends. I was allowed to take up any career opportunity as long as it was in my city. I was a very obedient girl, and really, my parents never had to force me not to do something.

    But to think about it all, I didn’t miss anything. There was nothing you could do at night that you couldn’t do in the day! I had lots of fun with my friends driving around the city, without any vacation with them. I went to a lot of late night parties with my brother. And when I told my parents that I was in love with my Boy, they accepted him open heartedly.

    It’s been a fair relationship. I’ve respected their concerns and they’ve accepted my choices. As parents you are very concerned about your children. My uncle allows her daughter late night parties. But he sits in the hall until she arrives! That’s how scared parents are. The moment we start understanding their concerns and bring about a balance, I think it’s all sorted.

    And really, I don’t understand how children are not ‘allowed’ to drink in front of their parents? And how they can deny a surprise birthday visit!? Parents need to know that children will do somethings with or without their approval!

    • Pepper said

      Nisha, we all react differently to different things. I am glad you didn’t think you were missing out on much, despite the restrictions. I probably wouldn’t react the same way. If I found a job I love in another city, I wouldn’t be too pleased if my parents told me I can’t take it. My adult mind would wonder why I am not allowed to choose for myself. For kids who are not bothered by these things, it works quite well. :)

      My parents too would stay up in the hall waiting for me if at all I had a late night. I think that is normal parental behaviour. I didn’t like worrying them so much. So although they allowed me to go where I wanted to at times, I didn’t make it a habit to come home beyond a certain time.

  19. Dhivya said

    I can imagine you being aghast with Mint’s parents since my hubby’s parents are like that .

    They expected him to not marry me just cause they said so. Somehow we got married and then said that we should not travel to the US (just cause they said so). It was no use trying to talk to them about the financial commitments and the absolute need that was there that forced us to take such a decision.

    I have also, like you , tried to tell my hubby to explain things to them and make them understand things. He never used to do so, preferring to just do things on the sly and not telling them about it. After a lot of pressure from me, this time on his vacation he spoke out about something that they always gave us a lot of grief about and the result…. it backfired on him so much that we have come to the conclusion that its better to just do the things we want to do without involving them in it.

    • Pepper said

      I feel for you. Sometimes it does take a few confrontations to realise how futile they are. There are times when I still feel the need for Mint to be more open. Maybe because I feel the need for his parents to know that beyond a point, they cannot really rule his life. But I have realised the consequences. They, or rather my MIL will only feel more sorry for herself and think of the lack of values we have, how out of control we are, etc. It will put further strain to our relationship. Sometimes, silence is the best policy.

  20. Smitha said

    This is something most of us have come across sometime or the other. I was lucky in the sense that my parents were quite liberal in comparison to a lot of my parents – which meant that I could talk to them about stuff, and it makes things easier..

    Loads of (adult)children do hide stuff from their parents simply because they don’t want to get into messy arguments. One of my friends – over 30’s , earning really well, hide the exact amount that they spend on things, because his parents still check their expenses.. To be honest, I find that rather appalling. I mean why do the parents assume that they need to monitor their grown up children’s bank accounts?

    When it comes to Poohi, I would rather that she is able to talk to me, confide in me, and have have me for a support when she needs me – rather than be in a position where she needs to hide things from me.. If we have imparted the right values, then I believe and hope that she will know right from wrong, than for me to have to control her…

    • Pepper said

      I think I have already told you this. I love the way you are bringing up Poohi. That is exactly my point too. A parent’s job is to raise a child in a way in which they are capable of making the right choices on their own. Controlling them rarely works. It only results in them leading secret lives.

  21. Tanishka said

    Luckily my parents have always been willing to talk about everything… They have always given their opinion and then left it on me to decide… :) We are very lucky…

  22. dipali said

    As a parent of grown up kids one tries to give them the space they need and yet be there for them. But sometimes you tend to forget that they are no longer children, which fact my kids promptly remind me of!
    But it wasn’t easy sometimes having to be sneaky as a youngster, nor is it easy to see your kids get into avoidable difficulties.

  23. Deeps said

    I feel there’s a thin line between guiding your children and overtly controlling them. While I feel, as parents its ok to keep a watchful eye on your kids till the time they are big enough to differentiate between the right and wrong, many a times the parents go overboard and curb their kids’ freedom because of which the kids tend to get either rebellious or secretive. There has to be a middle ground where the parents can guide them,talk to them make them aware of the repercussions while giving them the required space and freedom to do their own thing and determine their own life.

  24. Growing up, I was one of those lucky ones who never ever had any restrictions and that was because somehow as a child I was awfully good :roll: and no one in my family thought that I would do anything inappropriate (by their standards). But then they made a mistake in telling me what not to do when I was 17, something that for the first time in my life I wanted to do after my own heart. I guess there was a rebel always lying deep inside me which broke loose and the rest as they say is history :sad:

    I just hope that as a parent, I am able to bring up a healthy child both physically and mentally, one who can take care of himself and cares enough for others. If I can achieve that much with the little monster I have popped out, I will say I am blessed :smile:

    • Pepper said

      Oh don’t blame the rebel! That rebel has now given you a wonderful life, with a wonderful partner and an even more wonderful little boy. And your darling boy is an angel Saks. I know he is capable of making sensible decisions on his own, as well as caring enough for others. You needn’t worry at all :)

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