In our culture, parents, grandparents and other elders have a place of importance. One particular endearing aspect of our culture is the respect we show to elders. Since childhood, we are taught to touch the feet of our elders. We treat them with respect. We don’t raise our voices against our elders. We address our parents’ friends as uncle or auntie and not by their names or surnames. All these stem from the belief that elders are wiser, they know better, they sacrifice a lot to make us come up in life, and much after we are adults and have families of our own, they are still there to support us, provide guidance and love.
Of course, many elders crib that this culture is getting vitiated and that youngsters are becoming irreverential. Not totally untrue, I would say that there is a certain problem with their rigid thinking as well. Elders do not always know the best in all situations, but they feel that just by the virtue of being older they are always right. I learn so much from my kids and others. I cannot say that I know what is the best thing to do in all situations. Hence, we all must cultivate the habit of listening. Our elders must be conservative in giving their opinions in all matters and must not take umbrage if those are not acted upon. It gets my goat when I hear things like “hamaare yahan aisa hi hota hai” (this is the way in our family). That is not a good enough reason for anyone to continue doing things that don’t make sense anymore. We do the same when we tell our kids that this is what had happened in our childhood, and you don’t know how privileged you are. I can almost hear them say “move on :).”
Elders must be willing to listen with an open heart. Discussing something with respect with an elder is not tantamount to disrespect. Fear is not the equivalent of respect. As much as we require their love and guidance, they must not be intrusive or imposing. It takes a lot of maturity from an elder to handle dissent. Joint family system that has many advantages is slowly withering away because of lack of maturity from both sides. To maintain peace and harmony, parents are increasingly not living with their children and their families. One reason also is because they cannot evolve with the rapidly changing lifestyles of their children. 
There is no right or wrong in these situations. But, these are things that all of us need to keep in mind. My biggest grouse is that many elders are dogmatic, rigid and so difficult to approach. They have this halo of self-righteousness around them and walk around with fragile egos. Every generation rues over the corruption of morals of the following generation. But, instead of generalizations, it would help a lot to try and understand what is going wrong where. And, I believe that improvement and change starts with me. Any relationship can be worked upon if the intent is there from both sides. Parents can be such a positive influence in our lives and those of our kids that it would be worth an effort to have a good relationship with them. 



41 Thoughts on “Our elders

  1. “hamare zamaane mein” – yup we’ve all heard that a lot. sometimes what they say is enriching & adds a different perspective to a situation & i am all ears when an elder speaks.

    but at times some of them force us to accept something just because of their age or because we accepted other things so far. that i don’t

    & now i am seeing this drama unfold in my home. my daughter is just 5 but i’m already learning to listen to her more closely. apne liye, khud ke liye. nahin toh i too will soon hear her muttering “move on” 🙂

  2. Completely agree with this one!

  3. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  4. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  5. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  6. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  7. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  8. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  9. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  10. Absolutely right and I so very much agree with you on this one Rachna..

    Giving suggestions, opinions is okay but forcing to adopt the same is not okay…

  11. To a large extent , atleast in some cases, it depends on what kind of situations they went thro in life.if they had a very unpleasant childhood or growing up, they tend to become rebels. aFTER ALL WE ARE humans and are far from “ok I had a unhappy life, but you have all the peace kind”. if we were that, we might be god or a sadhu!!

  12. I don’t have to say anything new, for you know me and I totally agree with everything you have said.
    However now a days even modern people behave in that manner, and that is what is very bugging.

  13. With time, we need to evolve – with respect to mannerism, clothing, outlook and most important thinking… If we don’t keep pace with changing trends, we will be out dated!

    Nice article..agree with you on most of the points! 🙂

  14. I have a friend who obliges to every demand her daughter has. They have moved two homes and now moved all the way to West coast in just over two years all because her daughter said so. How old is the daughter? Hardly 15!

    She dictates what to eat, where to live and even what the Mom should wear or how she cuts her hair. Such an extreme…

  15. Rachna even coming from a totally different culture, I so relate to what you’re saying here. Very well put! I believe wisdom is not something one just automatically gets with age, it’s something that comes through seeking it and living with an open, embracing heart and mind and as you say, through listening to others as well.

    I know people older than myself who are very wise, whose life experience has truly taught them and enriched them. I gladly accept their advice on various things. But I also know people who are far older than I whose life experience has not, for whatever reason, given them any wisdom. It is as though they are stuck at a teenage level in their minds. I don’t know why some people don’t mature in wisdom…but I have noticed it is often those who believe too much in that mentality you mention “this is how it’s always been done”…in our family…in our country…etc. I got that A LOT when I first moved to Norway from Canada. “That’s not the way we do things here.” And it drove me mad because in Canada, life and people are so diverse that the idea of not doing something OR doing something simply because of how it’s always been done is just ludicrous! Sorry, I’ve ranted a bit.:)

    I have beliefs and opinions but I know not everyone feels the way I do or will do things exactly as I do and I respect that. I always hope for that same respect in return.

    have a wonderful day and fantastic post!

  16. We should respect our Elders, every body lives within a time frame. There is a generation-gap dilemma also.

    I agree with you, there are treasure of experience, they teach us “Sanskars”.

  17. is it for the fellow Indians? The snap at the start of the post tells something else 😀

    As far as post content is concerned.. I totally agree with you 🙂

    weakest LINK

  18. @Sujatha actually I’m going to write my next post about our children :).

    @Divsu Thank you.

    @Ashwini And don’t all of us agree to this especially since we at times are at the receiving end.

    @vani I don’t completely agree. There are people who suffered to educate their kids and lived through times of deprivation. But, once they have the means or their children can give them a good life, they resist and try to live in their old world of thrift. Why can’t you enjoy the fruits of your hard work instead of being cynical. I don’t agree that if you had a tough childhood, you have to force your kids to live the same way even if you can afford better. I am not talking about abject pampering but a line has to be drawn.

  19. @rama The thing about modern people going all preachy and traditional when convenient is another story altogether.

    @Karan Thank you for visiting here and liking the post. Of course, change is the norm. If we don’t change, we get left behind and often feel cynical.

    @NRIGirl Totally extreme and crazy. And, my next post is going to be about children :).

  20. @Colleen I loved your long rant. Sitting across continents, we can relate on the emotional levels and can have the same peeves :). I agree that some people have not acquired any wisdom, perhaps because they are stuck in their rut and refuse to change. Perhaps they think they are always right and refuse to adapt. I don’t know why their life’s experiences has not made them better people. And, as you pointed out, it is such people who have to force their views on you through convenient traditions or rules.

    I also respect other views and listen to other views contrary to me, and a healthy debate is always wonderful :). Thank you for your honest views!

    @Santosh They can teach us sanskars if their own lives are lived following those sanskars. If they preach something and do something else, then they hardly end up giving healthy values to others.

    @Rachit Yes, it is for fellow Indians :). The snap is courtesy a website which did not have an Indian family picture though I did look for one. Thank you all the same.

  21. Oh man reminded me of the countless discussions – arguments I use ot have with my grand-dad and my dad .. they would tell me what happened in their time and i would stand strong in MY time ..

    I guess this will keep happening because times are changing fast what we see or od our kids or future generation will not ..
    I was going ga ga over Captain Kirk pulling that radio control talking to Scotty to beam them up.. and Now it is true about the insturment being used …

    times have changed ..

    but i do agree thankfully my parents never forced there view on me , My dad always said himself Listen to everyone.. but in the end take ur own decision and go with full heart…


  22. Good parenting is not always agreeing to the children and making them happy.Early ‘Nos’ are very important in life.More parents than children need lessons these days!

  23. @Bikram Times are changing fast and unless we accept that and allow room for adaptation, we will be in the same situation some years later with our kids and will impose our views on them.

    @Dr. antony You are absolutely right! Saying no is the key to good parenting. How today’s parents are behaving with their kids is another story altogether. But, I want to specifically speak about the older generation of parents and their mindset in this post.

  24. I have been living in a joint family since last 17 years .I find most of our elders very loving ,caring adjusting ,accommodating and understanding. The only complain i have from some of the elders is the kind of ‘power -games’ they play and surprisingly that comes from not so old and modern ones.Na idhar ke and na udhar ke types.

  25. @kavita You are indeed blessed. I am also lucky to have wonderful in-laws who have always supported me and that includes my sisters-in-law as well who have been like elder sisters though ours is not a joint family. But, mostly around me I hear of bad mil or sil stories. As you rightly pointed out, there are power struggles and politics happening in families as well. If they work well, joint families are a major boon.

  26. As a senior, I would like to say, ‘Not guilty!’ I try to see things from the other point of view and hold my tongue when I feel that things are not being done the way I would have. But giving in to the kids all the time is not good parenting either. Could you please read my post about this? i would love your feedback.

  27. And people close to you are lucky. I have seen many seniors who are rigid and cynical; I’ve also seen many seniors who are loving, guiding and accommodating. Giving in to the kids all the time is totally wrong. Many in our generation will recognize the repercussion of this once our kids grow up to be selfish , rigid and demanding.

  28. ‘hamare zamaane mein’ used to be my grandfathers favorite phrase 🙂 I miss him a lot, and his experiences too

    I’m so in sync 🙂

  29. Normally, people forget the truth while writing against aged persons that they will be in the same situation one day.

  30. There are some things which parents say, make complete sense, but then there are some which does not have any room for discussion… and thats not right.

    And in the name of discussion, they try to just prove your reasonings and viewpoint all wrong…. and if you don’t buy those reasons, then thats it… the answer is… ” You have grown up to not need any advice! ” Pure emotional blackmail 🙁

  31. kunwar bhai..well said:)

  32. @Serendipity thank you for visiting. I feel it is my favorite phrase too :).

    @Kunwar Kusumesh I am not trying to attempt pulling down the elders, and I am fully aware that I will be in this situation some years from now. I hope that my kids will not think of me as khadoos but as fair and loving. I also pointed out that our generation of parents is making its own mistakes by giving too much leeway to our children. I hope you understand the message here without taking offense. Thank you for your valuable input and visit.

    @Aathira And haven’t we all been in pure emotional blackmail situations as well as situations where no logic cuts ice :).

    @Ramesh I would say the same to you as above :).

  33. I think our elders should give their opinions and listen to ours as well 🙂 both are valued

  34. Your reply submitted herein reflects that you are very short tempered .Your kids must be noticing it.Everybody thinks good of him,as you do.It is a natural phenomenon.But nobody knows future.So don’t be overconfident,just wait and see how you are going to be treated by your kids and relatives in your old age.I can say GOOD LUCK only.

  35. @Kunwar Kusumesh Well, if you go back and read my comment and read back what you have written, it is very clear who is short tempered and offensive both in tone and words :). If you are trying to provoke me by making personal remarks without knowing me, you have not succeeded. Your opinion of me as an individual is of zero value to me. Don’t worry about my children or my old age, as I have the strength and wisdom to deal with situations and am surrounded by loving family. By your words, I can judge how youngsters are being treated by you and how open you are to listening to opinions contrary to yours. Also, if my words offend you so much, it would be advisable for you not to visit my blog in the future.

  36. I am now saying”best of luck to you”and you are deleting it.
    Hope,you will not delete it now.

  37. Hi,

    As in every relationship, It is very important to have the freedom of both the sides to be able to say and listen, without being defensive or egoistic. Out of touch with the changing trends, elders may tend to hold on their idea of things happening in societies in yesteryear’s rigidly. Fortunately, most of the elder’s in my house aren’t that way…they listen, they learn…but still..there are instances..where ‘hamare zamane mein..’ comes to the fore.. 🙂


  38. @Kunal I totally agree with you; both sides must be able and willing to speak and listen without getting defensive. Many times, we find that harsh words are exchanged to suppress someone’s opinion or discontent. That can be painful.

  39. I agree and your last line sums it all..we were also young sometimes and had some issues but we nevr tried to solve them either by getting rid of parents or humiliating disrespecting them…

    The very first thing we need to realise is that everything in a family cant be as we like…the day we learn to accomodate others life becomes smooth sailing.

    Today I see the youth as rigid,stubborn and totally disrespectful of elders..they want to live life free of responsibilities, full of enjoyment.

  40. @Renu Your perspective is true too. Balance is needed from both sides to make our lives enjoyable.

  41. Balance is definitely needed on both sides… but I disagree that they are rigid.. You see it that way because generally elders don’t like to explain things in detail… they want you to learn that from your so called wise or I know what is right in some situation attitude… and don’t want to spoon feed. So then they say “yahan aisa hi hota hain” they just want you to learn by yourself about that “why” rather than they explaining… but most of us (our gen folks) don’t want to do anything until they explain every detail… IMHO.. first DO things as suggested and then try to understand and learn the “WHY” portion of it… rather than calling elders Rigid… lets see how will your attitude be towards your kids once you grow 😉 Its a process of evolving..

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