“My mom is sick and I volunteered to cook dinner.” This sentence set me thinking. Why are relationships so complicated in America? I feel they are artificial and formal most of the time. The love and bonding seem to be missing between parents and kids. Is it not a moral responsibility to be there and help your parents? Why is it volunteering?
Kids move out once they are 18, a very tender age when they are supposed to be still in the care of the parents. And, parents don’t stay with their kids nor ask for their help even if they live next door. I fail to understand the society and culture of USA sometimes, though I have been living here for 16 years now. The relationships in America seem like that of fish and fisherman; not like fish and water as it should be. Or so I feel, whenever I come across some incidents in people’s lives here.
One of my neighbors and a friend in the state I lived in earlier had a tumor in her brain and she was going through a lot. But I didn’t see either of her sons there for her before, during or after her surgery. “They are busy. They couldn’t make it”, the husband vouched for his kids. Seriously? Mom is undergoing surgery and the kids not available… this scenario is new to me! It wouldn’t happen in India, at least not in any middle-class family. Even if the kids don’t get along well at other times, they would surely be there in times of crisis.
I remember the time when my mom was going through her cancer treatment. My grandparents, my uncle’s family, my aunt’s family, all of us lived together to support her and help each other get through the whole process for 3 months. For me, that is love, that is bonding, and that is emotional attachment.
One of my husband’s American friend once told him that the kids don’t burden their parents with responsibility of paying for college and hence the parents don’t burden their kids to take care of them when they are old. For a girl from India, like me, that is so unnatural, so against the Nature of life. Is money the only criteria? No wonder a lot of kids don’t go to college immediately after high school because their parents don’t support them financially and they themselves can’t afford it. They start with small jobs with meagre pays, accumulate some savings and then go back to college. In India, we not only give importance to education, but also think that the responsibility of the parent is not over until the kid finishes their education and gets a job. Until then, they support the kid not only emotionally, but also financially. And mind you, this is done wholeheartedly, not for any kind of show-off.
The parents don’t really stay with their kids in their old age for financial support, they have love for their kids and grandkids and so want to experience the next generation wholly and hence, want to stay with them. Well, this concept has diminished to a larger extent now, in India too. But even then, I would say that the kids do love their parents and do care to meet them often and invite them over for celebrations. The grand kids give respect and love their grandparents, more than their parents sometimes.
I have got to know America more through the serial ‘Parenthood’ which depicts the live of one American family; the story of parents, siblings and kids. Whenever I watch ‘Parenthood’, I think and feel that the relationships are too complicated in America. They take permission of the parents to stay over for the night in their house. They say thank you for every small thing that the mom does for them small or big. The parents keep reminding the kid that he or she is living on them. What is normal for me, like hugging the parents, kissing the kids, seems to be missing. Invitations are sent to grandparents to attend their grandkid’s graduation or orchestra concert. If they don’t get an invitation, they don’t go. Shouldn’t the grand parents feel that it is their right to be there for their grandkids’ events? And, after the event, both the sets of parents leave for their respective homes, saying goodbye as if they are strangers.
Irrespective of country and culture, I always felt that the emotions are the same in all human beings, I felt that the bonding in families would be the same in all cultures. Looks like I am wrong… or rather, my perspective of ‘The World is One Family’ (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam in Sanskrit) is wrong.