Posted by: viksav | March 4, 2009

Where do I live…I am 60?

Sweet 16 always seems to be magical, twenties is wild, mid-life is all about success and family but what happens at 60????

I had an interesting discussion with my friends over the weekend – Where should the parents stay, after their children get married or when they become old??. We  had a healthy talk and each one of us had our own views and facts. The next day as I retrospected, it intrigued me as to how this situation is handled across the world and across multifarious cultures.

I started first to think about the culture in USA and immediately a strong voice of protest rose in my mind that expressed my  displeasure towards the children who hate the idea of resident parents. It’s become a tradition for the children to move out of their parents house at the onset of their marriage. Sometimes, they move out much before if they are professionally well settled.  I like the fact that they don’t want to burden their parents financially and I guess sometimes it is also argued that they would like to give more privacy to their parents. I completely understand and concur the thought process…but what happens when they turn 60?; and start losing their financial earnings; and begin their slow process of losing social life; and eventually tread the treacherous path of losing the important senses – eyes, nose,tongue,ear &skin (these senses known as Gyanendriya, in Ayurveda – ancient Indian system of medicine ).

In United States, it is not uncommon to see at many places old people struggling to do their daily chores – walking to the convenience stores, banks, hospitals etc. Some old people yearn to have a 1/2-1 hour talk with their near n dear.  Is this all happening because they want to live independent ?; Or, is this because they have no children to take care of them?; Or, is this because of negligence/ insensitiveness of  their children who dread the idea of resident parents??. I guess this is a big controversial statement – I agree I have seen only some segments (mostly urban communities) of the country – United States. I did hear people claim, that they ensure their parents are treated well at the “Assisted Living” or at the “Rehabilitation Centers” and thus have fulfilled their duty of take and give policy. Nay…Nay, I totally disagree to this. Life is not always about monetary support; that  it revolves largely on social and emotional support is to be understood by many.

Interestingly when I discussed this issue with some experienced professionals , they told me that situation as seen now in United States was not the same till late 1960’s. I was told the industrial revolution led many people to leave their parents and home’s to embrace the new world of success, money & fame. As years passed away, people got so busy with their lives that they neither felt the urge to go back nor got second thoughts to invite their parents.  Soon it became a tradition for children to leave their homes for greener pastures. The situation finally led to a point wherein the parents were forced to look after themselves. Decades later, the situation has only worsened and it makes me wonder why people can’t take a minute and think – ” How in the world could I have become what I am now , without the emotional & social support of my parents? Am I being a dutiful child in return?”

Alas, I have no knowledge of other countries except for one another country – India. India, a country with centuries of history, culture, ethnicity has seen multitude of changes. Nations have plundered it and ruled over it…but age old traditions never vanished. I stand corrected here….maybe it is about to in the current generation?? Traditions have been a strong binding factor for families in India and this was true across the sects and religions. For centuries, the word family signified love, cohesion, respect and genuine understanding among members and the large families of yore usually comprised of  grand parents, parents and children. It was a belief that a large mutually connected family encourages healthy division of labor for sustenance and mutual benefit.

But as preached to us by many wise people, things will never be the same forever. Post independence and in to the mid-eighties of the last century, traditions soon began to disappear and the big families of yore were replaced by smaller  nuclear families – Parents and Children. Big cities and challenges were all inviting and emphasis on education for their children forced parents to move towards urban livings. Hmm…does this not sound as the industrial revolution in far East??? Well, at least in the last two decades entering  into the new millennium Y2K, smaller nuclear families flourished. It was usually the duty of a son to take care of his parents even after he gets married and has his own children. The son was regarded as a sole support for aging parents – I stand to be corrected here again as there have been many cases wherein daughters have come forward to take the responsibility. In any case, children were forthcoming and eager to reside with parents.

The new millennium brought a sea of change to India. Technology bloomed, young educated graduates were in plenty, jobs and money were not a question. This is a new revolution in a traditional India…slowly the buzz words were “West is coming to East”. Yes, absolutely, everything is on move, and the world started slowly to become globalized. But alas, modern age with its fast-paced life took a huge toll on personal lives of people. The lifestyles are more contemporary and the young professionals in their pursuit of the new world failed to attain the perpetual joy derived from love, mutual respect and emotional support ensconced in a happy family. The young couples smitten by money, fame and independence have distanced themselves from their parents. In some cases the reason for this separation is also pointed to the inability of the new girl in the family to adjust to the boy’s parents. All in all, the result is the same…The East is moving to be like the West even culturally.

I would love to think it is different in other countries of the world. But…I guess we can only hope. I feel there are so many questions unanswered here and also it demands everyone one of us to have a retrospective on this.

  • Why do we believe our parents are a burden in their dire need of emotional and social support? It is said that people act like kids when they become old as they have very little control of their important senses. If our parents can take care and guide us when we are kids then why can’t we return the favor??
  • It is easy to provide monetary support but providing emotional support demands lots of love, patience and sacrifice. Our parents were kind enough to provide us everything without throwing us in Dormitories/hostels and paying through their troubles. Then why do we dread to take up the opportunity to repay?? Why do believe that by just providing monetary support and accommodating them in assisted livings/rehabilitation centers is the solution??
  • It is said that a family acts as the first and most important teacher for a highly impressionable mind of newly born child. What do we convey to them by showing how we treat our parents?? What should we then expect??
  • When a new person walks in our life and becomes a life partner, do we need to forget our past ?? If  either of the couple believe that taking care of  the parents is a  burden, should we not then question ourselves this…If  a person cannot care of his/her own parents, whom he/she has known for last 20-30 years , then how will he/she ever take care of me??





  1. Heart touching topic! I strongly agree with your thoughts… I would love to be with my parents and they are never burden to me.
    Well, most of the times we ignore our parents when new person enters our life.. In India mostly guy’s parents stays with the family…There could be 3 scenarios …
    Firstly , when a girl comes to a new family after marriage, she has to spend with different people with different mindsets and instead of making herself comfortable or compatible with the family, she finds the simple solution of being away with the family.
    Secondly, we are always biased with the fact that combined family will cause lot of problems.
    Lastly, it all depends on the way person grown up in the family,when parents are so materialistic and doesn’t spend much time with their kids, definitely they don’t develop the affection towards their parents and their relation with parents become still more weak when other person enters into their life.

    Will all these reasons.. most of the Indians are missing the Joy of combined family:(

    • Very thoughtful comments. Kudos to your mature thinking and reasoning while pointing out possible reasons for failures in combined families.
      It’s been a while since I last wrote this article but over the course of last few months I have seen more failures in families. I cannot agree more with some of your reasons especially with the your last reason. If a girl is not close to her family and has stayed mostly in hostel over the course of her life, it will be hard to for her to develop affection to a new family. A new guy is itself hard to adjust and the additional emotional quotient from the family members will frustrate them more.

      I have to stay it can’t be entirely the girl’s emotional adjustment, a reason for failure. I feel some of guys are unable to balance their parents expectations and their responsibility to a new life partner. I always have a great respect for people who take care of their parents but I admire those who balance their lives by taking up responsibility of both, parents and life partner. Sometimes, I think even at a cost of his parents a guy has to go an extra step to take care of his partner who has lost the emotional connection with her family. The guy should have the confidence in his family to understand the reasons; especially after more 25-30 years, you don’t need to prove your love for them. In any case it is all about BALANCE. Life is too short…lets all SMILE N LIVE TOGETHER.

      • Of course! person has to balance three things.. Life partner, Parents and work :). Well, coming to the third reason, I was mostly referring to the guy who doesn’t get the adequate Love from their parents will have more chances of ignoring the parents when his life partner enters his life.

        And, I have stayed in hostel till +2, and I feel I am more attached to the family than my siblings 🙂 may be exceptional case.

        Yes.. Life is too short and Let’s live than worrying about small things.

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