The Dilemma of Looking After Aging Desi Parents

48

4551 people reached on Lassi with Lavina FB page

48 comments – Add your thoughts

 

In 'Talk Back', a blog on Lassi with Lavina Sanjay Sanghoee addresses the dilemma of Desi parents and children - and their expectations

Desi parents, children – and expectations. Photo: Carolyn_Sewell

 

Dealing with aging parents continue to be a stressful area for Indian-Americans and Sanjay Sanghoee’s column written several years back continues to draw comments. Here’s the latest One: “Thought provoking article! However, from my observations, it is a lot easier to provide care when you have additional help (maids or more hands at home as in India), than when the burden is on one family only especially when you have to do everything for them short of bath/toilet help.
For a family in the US, you have enough demands on your time because of your job, managing your own children and their schedules, and your other chores that caring for another person does impose and create additional stress.
Someone I know has 3 children in the US, and 3 in India, and yet, no one is willing to take care for even 2-3 months by rotation. Makes me wonder why we have medicine for blood pressure, statins, diabetes etc. – all these meds do is to prolong old age, and much better to go when you are younger, happier, and definitely before you get to the stage of needing someone to care for you.”

Desi Fathers & Sons

As my father gets older and reaches an age where he needs more help and emotional support than ever before, I am confronted with a challenge that almost all young desis face today: how to juggle our responsibility towards our parents, which is an integral part of our culture, with the many demands of our hyperactive cosmopolitan lives and our focus on the realization of our own potential and dreams.  Ultimately, we all find different solutions but the underlying emotional conflict is the same for everyone.

Unlike Western culture which idolizes the individual and self-realization, desis come from a background that stresses the importance of ancestral continuity and indebtedness to our parents.  As a friend of mine once said, “Once they have you they think they own you.”  There is no right or wrong here but the two ideologies clearly clash and can create very practical problems for a modern desi in the United States.

To understand the problem better, it is important to identify the reason for the disconnect.

In 'Talk Back', a blog on Lassi with Lavina Sanjay Sanghoee addresses the dilemma of Desi parents and children - and their expectations

Moving on: Fathers and sons on the road of life. Photo: T31Erick

In Western culture, old age is regarded as a liability.  While there is a lot of effort made to provide older people with physical comfort, it is generally accepted that the previous generation cannot be allowed to hamper the progress of the present one.  In other words, parents should be taken care of but only to the extent that it does not require true sacrifice.  Anything else would be a betrayal of ourselves.  The notion of parents living with their children is almost anathema (not that it never happens).

Desi culture, on the other hand, reveres old age and automatically assumes that parents will stay with their children and be looked after, regardless of the circumstances.  There is a strong sense of “duty” behind all this that sidelines practical concerns in deference to the welfare of the elderly.  All this creates a juggernaut of social and emotional pressure for young desis.  Conscience, after all, is a powerful force and nowhere does it have greater potency than when it comes to the caring of our aging parents.

So the question is which of these philosophies do we follow and is there a happy balance that can satisfy our desi conscience while enabling us to live the modern life we want?

Sanjay Sanghoee gives his view on the world in Talkback with Sanjay Sanghoee on Lassi with Lavina

I have grappled with this issue for more than a decade and only recently made peace with it.  My father is the nicest man I know and the degree to which he has sacrificed his own happiness for the sake of mine is beyond measure.  Yet for the longest time I hated him for it since it created an obligation that I did not want.  But then something changed.  I realized one day that not only was I grateful to him for going above and beyond the call of duty as a parent, but that I genuinely wanted to repay him for his kindness.  In essence, I want to take care of him not out of a sense of guilt or obligation but from the desire to do it.

And therein lies a possible answer.

As a good desi son or daughter, we are bound by our culture to perform a role that we may not want to, and because we feel forced to do something, we resent it.  But what if there is no pressure, at least in our own minds; what if we put aside our fear of social reprisal and do what we want; and then what if we decide to take care of our parents not because we are being forced to but because we want to.  The difference in those two attitudes is night and day and can lower the weight of the burden that we have to carry.  If we believe that something is a burden, it will feel like a burden no matter how vast our resources or how easily we can tackle a situation in the real world.  The other side of that coin is that if we can shift our own perspective on the problem and stop seeing the care-taking of old parents as a burden, we may be able to deal with it more effectively and with less anxiety.

Defeat of Individualism or Sign of Evolution?

Right about now I can imagine some of you objecting strongly to the notion of changing your attitude about anything, but speaking for myself, I do not consider adjusting one’s attitude as a defeat of individualism but as a sign of evolution.  We don’t become weaker by re-considering our perspective in life but stronger.  People who can evolve to meet the demands of life survive and thrive, while people who resent those demands or avoid their responsibilities altogether remain stagnant and unfulfilled.

Of course, not all parents are exemplary and in those cases, their children’s emotions may be even more complex and conflicted, but that is not within the scope of this discussion.  My goal is merely to share my own individual solution to the dilemma of balancing my own needs with those of my father.  I realize that adopting a new perspective and creating workable arrangements are much easier said than done, but they are not impossible either.

To sum it all up, whenever I feel like complaining about my familial responsibilities or envy others who (for whatever reason) do not have them, I just remind myself of the fact that I am actually grateful for all the sacrifices my father has made for me and that I have consciously taken advantage of his generous nature time and again.  To pretend now that “I never asked for it” is not only disingenuous but truly ungracious.  My father never forced anything on me and I have always had the choice to reject his support and go my own way – but the fact is I happily enjoyed his largesse and built my own life on that foundation, and so if I now have to adjust my life a little to accommodate him, it is hardly unfair.

Sanjay Sanhoee blogs at Talkback with Sanjay Sanghoee on Lassi with Lavina

Sanjay Sanghoee

Sanjay Sanghoee is a columnist for the Huffington Post and the author of a financial thriller, MERGER, published by St. Martin’s Press in hardcover, paperback and Kindle.

Related Articles:

NRI Tales – Becoming Indian in America

Money Games – Rise of the Rich, Fall of the Nation

Searching for Bobby Jindal

Everyone of us goes through this. Sanjay Sanghoee talks of the personal dilemma of coping with an aging parent. What are your thoughts on this? Any coping solutions?

Share.

About Author

is a blogger on Huffington Post and the author of the financial thriller MERGER, published by Forge Books and available on Amazon. He is a former banker and resides in New York City.

48 Comments

  1. Right, why should there be a dilemma? What makes it different if you are an American Indian or Indian American? Parents are parents, they make so many adjustments to raise us…and we become selfish as we grow older…and we create institutions after institutions for everything, every responsibility we want to escape from…and we have innumerable excuses, no?….I feel strongly about this.
    Very touching article.

  2. Lavina Melwani on

    Nivi, thanks for your comment – I’m sure Sanjay will respond. I just want to address the desi part – adding the keyword desi into the title is so readers can discover the article online. You are right – parents are parents, no matter what race or ethnicity. Asian cultures, however, do have strong expectations that children look after aging parents and so young desis do have much more guilt thrust upon them.

  3. Well written, Sanjay. I completely agree with you. In the not too distance future I’m sure I will be faced with this, and having given much thought to this inevitable reality, I will simply have to find a way to take care of my parents and incorporate that as a part of my life. My parents always have supported me through thick and thin in spite of several vast differences in our points of view, so I don’t think taking care of them in their twilight years is something I will ever regret.

  4. Hey Leena and Nivi, thanks very much for your comments and nice words. I think more desis can relate to this than we realize and most do a pretty good job in the end of taking care of their parents. Haven’t shared this article with my dad yet though, so his response remains to be seen. :)

  5. Lavina, do parents feel guilt while raising their children? Then it shouldn’t be a guilt that is thrust upon kids either, i feel.

    Also an important aspect is, Desi parents don’t attend senior programs which are plenty here which educates them about problems of aging, health etc…which may keep them isolated and a few adjustment problems may crop up, but I am sure the Social Services have woken up to the cultural factor and there are South Asian senior homes with programs as well…which should make lives easier?

  6. Leena from CT on

    Another great article Sanjay and can understand the conflict many professional desis feel between balancing their personal dreams/goals and the obligation that comes with helping aging parents. I realize there are no easy answers and each person has to come to terms with this on their own and what best fits their family situation.
    Regardless, the issue of helping aging parents is universal to all societies. I know plenty of American families where the elderly parent lives with them and they are trying to help their sick and aging parent. I also know plenty of desis who could care less what happens to their aging parents and have poor family values. Elder abuse and abandonment is on the rise in India as well. So I do not believe we should typecast particular societies.

  7. An excellent point of view Sanjay! Fortunately for me I did not even have to change my outlook to look after my parents. I take pleasure and a whole lot of pride that I can do it. I say that because, in the context of Indian culture and practices (not always reasonable ones), it is not often that a daughter can take responsibility for her parents because her duties after marriage are tied to the husband’s family.

  8. Kriti, I commend you on your attitude. It’s funny that both sons and daughters have a lot of cultural baggage and different obligations based on traditional roles in our society, but in the end it all comes down to how much we care about each other – and maturity. I’m definitely a lot more philosophical about life as I get older (and everything begins to creak!). :)

  9. Hi Sanjay
    Thanks for the article, point well taken.
    For a desi living outside India, this does pose a question of how can one perform this duty.
    Things get more complex when your are well settled abroad, and your parents are in India and are not willing to relocate.
    This question has given me sleepless nights for years and I am not sure if i will ever find a solution.
    Would like to hear what people think

    Thanks for the great article

  10. In my case parents are in India. I would like to hear how others take care of their aging parents from afar. Going to India frequently is not possible and they don’t want to come here….

  11. Hey guys, there is one reason your parents don’t want to live with you…not always the case, but is a possibility…do your wives treat them nicely?
    Maybe they prefer to live alone than living with your difficult wives!
    (Attachment to roots, not leaving the country, migration problems come later..)

  12. The maturity of the writer is reflected in his writing.Why do we feel guilty for looking after our parents? They didn’t expect us to fetch for ourselves when we were just 16.They cared for us till much later. Kids always come first for desi parents.
    The sad part is when the son’s wife don’t want to assimilate them in the family. Why I say wife is because now the son’s home belongs to the son’s wife. If she doesn’t feel like being courteous, there are ways to exhibit this and parents at that stage are very sensitive. They are reaching the sunset of their lives, having worked hard to give their son the life he wanted.
    I wish our countries were better governed so that our children never had to leave for far away lands. Every home today in our part of the world has changed.There is no life. Two elderly people nervously wait for the end of their life.
    So instead of feeling guilty, why don’t children actively try to incorporate these people in their lives, like people of the last generation did? There were elderly people in every home,loved and respected, never considered a burden. Why not enjoy their company while they are healthy and also let them enjoy the fruits of your success?

  13. I do think Parents don’t wish to be treated as a burden.Asking them to relocate to US/England is not fair. Why would they uproot themselves from their familiar surroundings in old age? I wish we had better health-care in India.There is no hospice. I am personally dealing with a mom with terminal cancer and being oceans away and an only child too is only making it harder. I agree with the author -it is tough to balance our duties as parents to our kids and as caregivers to our parents.

  14. I noticed in some of the comments above talking about a ‘difficult DIL/wife’ to deal with when it comes to taking care of the elderly parents. I am sorry to say this but I feel it is unfair to talk only about a difficult DIL. (daughter-in-law)

    Based on my personal experiences, I believe there is a reason why anyone acts rigid. I, for example, got married to a man from the same caste. It is a love marriage no doubt but I am much more educated than my in-laws are, come from a financially more well-off family than my in-laws’, and better off in many ways that my husband finds no reason for my in-laws to not accept me. And most importantly none of these differences really mattered to me to-date and I wanted to be a best DIL from the bottom of my heart.

    However, these facts didn’t add any value in my in-laws’ heads. My in-laws never accepted me. They ignore my presence as if I am blended into the air and they cannot see me. They think their family is superior to anyone else. There is only so much you can do after a while. Now after 8 long years of marriage, I am tired of trying to be nice, caring for them while they take it for granted that their son (my husband) and I are in total control, and they can simply ignore my presence and walk all over me.

    So why should I still want to take care of them all my life when they are 100% unappreciative of anything I do? And how fair is it for such so-called ‘elderly’ to think it is only fair for a DIL to take care of her in-laws but not do anything for her own parents?

    I appreciate our culture where elderly are typically taken care of and youngsters are obliged to them. I also believe in doing something for the needy – orphans and old age homes, especially. But unfortunately I feel this privilege is totally being misused by our elders in the name of ‘our culture’, which is why if I were given a chance, I’d rather do anything for elders on the street than for my own in-laws.

  15. Stop giving and finding reasons for doing what you need to do. Just do it and stop indulging in fantasies.

  16. I disagree with the premise of this article that the West does not take care of its elderly. I was also of this mistaken opinion when I first got here. Now that I have lived and seen many people, I have seen enough number of Americans take absolutely great care of their parents. In the same vein, I have seen enough Indians now who talk big but do nothing… so lets forget all this nonsense about the implied superiority of Indian culture – it just depends on each person’s values, nothing else!

  17. Indu Jaiswal on

    Hello Lavina
    I am glad to read the article and such great responses. This is the most touching situation facing our community.I work in a long term care facility and I see these situations daily.

    We can all relate to the issues when taking care of elderly arises. We are responsible for our elders, we must encourage them to attend and participate in senior programs being organized for south Asian population. Several services are available at home for seniors. We are all working long hours and some jobs require traveling too. It becomes difficult in these situations to give parents time that is required. This is the right time to look into and invest into long term care facilities providing needs and care for south Asian aging population.

    I saw in Delhi too some facilities have started for retired senior housing where parents can stay and be taken care of. Of ourselves we all want them to stay with us. At the same time we must look into affordable housing to meet the needs of our elderly population.
    Time is right now and we must do whatever possible to take care of our parents and keep them comfortable.

  18. Lavina Melwani on

    Hi Indu, thank you for all the pointers – I am sure they will be very useful to second generation Indian-Americans. It will be helpful to see the ideas people come up with to make elder care possible while living their own lives and fulfilling their own potential.

  19. Ramakrishna Goteti on

    Most touching article and is very much relevant to the situation I am currently in.
    After doing a lot of introspection of myself (with sleepless nights) and also reading through each of the comments, I would say the reason it becomes a dilemma is because firstly we don’t generally factor in the conscious responsibility of taking care of parents as an important and integral part of life planning activities, although we get pricked once in a while.

    The result is we tend to postpone any concrete plan around that to some unknown time in the future or wait for that eventuality to happen. In addition, we push ourselves too hard into all kinds of commitments in the name of “Settling very well abroad”, as someone commented.
    The first step towards resolving this so-called “Dilemma” is to accept the fact that if you are consciously serious about taking care of your parents, you need to draw a very clear line in the very beginning of your career in terms of how long you intend to stay abroad, what you want to achieve as well as a clear plan to bring yourself back to India, rather than keeping it as an open-ended plan.

    I do admit it would not be as easy. However, if you plan very much in the beginning, it might make things a little easier in terms of mental and physical preparation.
    Also, mind you. all these acts of yours towards your parents are closely watched by your own children and will have a lasting positive impression on their minds.

  20. The article does not mention what he finally did to take care of parents ?
    I have Absolutely no dilemma what so ever. I definitely want to take care. If I were single I would definitely go back to India but right now it’s not just me and my career right. Just don’t know what is the best thing to do. Wish I had gone back after studies.

  21. How does one cope up with both parents in their 90s, with age-related problems and early dementia setting in?

  22. It is one of the most difficult situations to face. I would really love to hear from readers on this – how they cope and also some solutions from experts and caregivers.

  23. Anjali, I can understand the turmoil. I think this is a topic we need to revisit and see how different people are handling this.

  24. Sanjay, my father is 67 and my mother is 61 – both are now free. As we are staying in a small city, my parents go to their native place every month to stay. I am 40 and I find our thoughts are not matching, they are not accepting new trends or even their grandchildren (I am 40). My parents don’t want to listen, and if they listen they just give their final answer, and are not able to debate or solve the problem. They are not interested in solving problems of their sons’ families (we are 3 brothers – all are having their family and 2 of them are staying away from my parents, and their families visit my place once a week)
    Can you give me some solution?

  25. Anjali,
    I am in the same boat as you. I wish I had gone back after studies. My husband does not want to go back. He is bringing his parents to live in the US with us. That leaves me worrying about what will happen to my parents and how to take care of them.
    Ramakrishna – well said. If only I had had this foresight.
    Reading the article and the comments gives me some solace, knowing that there are others like me.

  26. My husband is the only son and my mother-in-law is suffering from multiple diseases. We live in Delhi but my in-laws live in our native place, they are rigid on not coming to Delhi to stay with us, not even with their grand-daughters.
    My husband is getting an opportunity in US. I have completed 14 years of my marriage this year but I don’t remember that they had ever come to Delhi to stay with us more than 20 days and that too not frequently. We have two daughters ( elder 10 yrs and younger 5.5 yrs). So should we go to the US and opt for this opportunity for our bright future or will we be ignoring our parents? We are not able to decide which way we should go.

  27. Lavina Melwani on

    Dev, sorry to hear about your family’s dilemma. I do hope some readers will share some advice with you. It is a decision which you have to make.

  28. I think the comparison to “western culture” is inaccurate and misplaced. Physical distance between parents and children is usually a factor in the dilemma discussed in this article. In the U.S. most families stick together by living close by in neighboring cities and states. In my life in the USA I’ve always seen friends taking care of their aging parents, visiting them every weekend etc. Yes, it is true that aging parents live in independent places but never too far from caring family, and which desi daughter/son-in-law wants to live with parents-in-law? Migrant culture and tradition, brought on by economic hardship and passed off as dreams, wants to be on a higher moral ground compared to the west and I think it’s just untrue.

  29. I was hoping to find more information about how people handle the situation when we want to be with our older parents (no question of not wanting to be with them) – like the travel required for them to be with us in old age, the loneliness they feel here when we are at work. Should we move to India instead of keeping them here with us so that they can go to temples and be in the familiar places they lived for so long? Also India is more helpful when they become physically weaker…

  30. Raje I agree with 100%. I was hoping to get precisely those answers as well. An an immigrant woman residing in US, my home is now in US with my husband. But my heart still resides with my parents in India. It is a turmoil I deal with on a daily basis. Every year they grow dearer as they age and I feel so helpless and so far away. If they needed help I would be the last person to reach! This thought alone tears me. What are we to do?

  31. Adam, I think you’re right. I’ve seen families to be close-knit here. No one culture has a monopoly on love and caring, and every family has its strengths and weaknesses.

  32. Raje, sorry for this late reply. I think every family has to fashion out its own solutions but it helps to know how others are dealing with their problems. For many being with their children in their waning years trumps all else, and creative solutions can always be found. Patience and tolerance is the key I think.

  33. You are wrong. In the old times, Parents would renounce worldly life and retire to the final stage of Hinduism known as Sanayasa. It was propagated by Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Once the age of the householder is over, they would retire to the forests or Ashram to do Bhakti, renounce attachments and retire. Parents of today have forgotten their own religion and how to cope with this. The solution for this is to revive the age old practice of Sanayasa, the final stage of a Hindu’s life, to renounce worldly attachments, families, and retire to the forests/Ashrams and meditate on God so their souls can find freedom, not entangle it with more emotional attachments or unneeded burdens.

  34. Hi Sanjay and all, and then it gets more difficult if you have an uncooperative husband who doesn’t want anything to do with your parents who live in India and if you don’t have a brother, how do you deal with a situation like this? Your heart wants to take care of your parents and wants them close by and your heart so much wants to get rid of this uncooperative spouse you have – what do you do?

  35. I too have a similar problem. My mother is 82 and lived with me for a long time. I came to US in 2004. She visited us a few times. I had bought them a flat in Pune so that they could be comfortable. My father never had a house of his own. I was only 28 then and not in a very good career. Yet I did that as my duty. My dad too wanted me to go and look for a better future. But he passed away in 2006. My mom couldn’t stay alone so I left her under the care of my elder brother. My brother too passed away in 2013. My sister-in-law refused to take her in any more. So my sister and her husband took her in for some time. Yesterday my mom fell down and broke her wrist. And then there was a post in whatzapp family group that how selfish and uncouth I was. And they demanded that we should come back and take care of her right away.
    I am 45-years-old, got two school-going kids and have a house, paying mortgage. I don’t know what to do now. I have been slandered so much. I am 45 – I wonder if I will find a good job in India or it will be the right thing to do. I mean how can I drop everything here, go to India and take care of my mom as long as she lives. I mean it’s literally asking me to start my life all over again! All my SSN benefits will be gone as I am not a citizen yet.

  36. It is our responsibility to take care of our parents, irrespective of our origin. But when it comes to NRIs, most of the desi parents have developed dollar expectations from their children and their desire to buy properties/other assets through their NRI children is only making them isolated from their own kids. That is up to them and it is out of the scope of what I intend to convey.

    I agree this need not be the case with everybody but this is an issue with numerous families. There are NRI families living out of India who do not have someone back in India who will really support them except in consuming their dollar income. To fulfill our duty, rather than shifting ourselves to India and invite unnecessary problems into our lives, let us bring our parents here and take care of them when it is agreeable to them. Now the emergence of wide spectrum of visitor health insurance plans in USA would help NRIs in this regard.

    Bottom line is do not break your heads about going back and staying in India just to take care of aged parents. Think of yourselves also and act smart. I agree that our parents gave utmost care to us and struggled to make us settled. Keeping in view today’s India, rather than disturbing our well settled stage (which our parent have dreamed to see us), let us bring our parents here and take care of them.

    I hope this message will definitely lighten the heart of someone who maybe struggling with this issue.

  37. Amazing article but all that it will do for most is to feel a bit better that they are not the only ones. How many of us will take action on this is very difficult to say and I am not excluding myself. My experience – I left for India with my family, was lucky to get a job and started settling in, though I was never happy with work in India as I was so used to the west. Yes, money was also a problem.
    Though I never wanted to return to the west again but my work required me to do so. It would have been very stupid to not take that opportunity but it was done with my parents’ consent.

    Now it is time again for me to return and I am exploring opportunities, if I look at money I am making and future of kids then it looks stupid but at end of life, money will not matter that much – not doing it and living with a guilt for rest of life is the issue.

    So sincere fforts are on and I will leave for India forever now. Will have to deal with lots of issues and situations but hopefully things will work out. When I left last time two of my friends did the same. India has changed – you have most of the western comforts there nowadays.

  38. I have a similar problem. We are 2 sisters and dad passed away couple years ago. My mom stays with my sis in India and spends some weekends with her sis (my masi), who is single and will retire in couple of years. My sis’s hubby is getting promoted and his new position requires him to be in Australia.
    I have been thinking of getting my mom here every 6 months or so, but that does not sit well with my husband. Besides he has his parents who lives with his brother in India. Well I have no problem if they ever have to come and live with us. Of course we are living the American Dream – 2 jobs, 2 kids and a mortgage.
    Taking care of parents is not as easy as them living with us. Anytime they have been sick/hospitalized we have been able to afford the best care for them in India, -not sure how to do the same here.
    How do some of you care for your parents in USA? I guess this is life. Have to figure out what I can do for my mom. Also, how can I prepare us to take care of his parents, their medical expenses, tuition for 2 kids here and mortgage. As they say in India – Bhagwan pe chod do.

  39. S, I do sympathize with you. Looking after elderly parents is never easy, especially in the West – and each generation has to find a solution that works for them. I am currently working on an in-depth article about this very topic, and would appreciate hearing from anyone with problems or solutions.

  40. A well written and insightful article. Deciding what to do when parents get older and less able to live independently is a tricky decision for all cultures. We never want to be the ones who put our parents in a care home, but sometimes there is no other option. It’s a difficult and sad time, but as long as you treat parents with respect and kindness they deserve, the path will be easier.

  41. Thought provoking article! However, from my observations, it is a lot easier to provide care when you have additional help (maids or more hands at home as in India), than when the burden is on one family only especially when you have to do everything for them short of bath/toilet help. For a family in the US, you have enough demands on your time because of your job, managing your own children and their schedules, and your other chores that caring for another person does impose and create additional stress. Someone I know has 3 children in the US, and 3 in India, and yet, no one is willing to take care for even 2-3 months by rotation. Makes me wonder why we have medicine for blood pressure, statins, diabetes etc. – all these meds do is to prolong old age, and much better to go when you are younger, happier, and definitely before you get to the stage of needing someone to care for you.

  42. It’s a well written article & may apply to a vast majority of NRIs but certainly not to ALL. This is not a one size fits all solution! Present day India is practically unlivable for NRIs. Not matter how much money you may take back, there are some basic comforts of life & peace of mind that India cannot offer. There is no point in making our lives miserable by moving back and trying to adjust to the lifestyle there.

    I believe in the cycle of life – what our parents gave us, we need to give to our kids. While that does not necessarily mean that we have to abandon our aged parents, it does mean that we have to be forward looking and do what is best for our future and that of our kids. If that means moving back to India, then so be it, but if it means otherwise, we need to make peace with that decision also. Make the best possible arrangements for parents in India in the process.

    Secondly, another valid point that someone else has also brought up in the comments above is that a lot of today’s parents back in India are only concerned with the $$$ that we can send them back. There is little love or affection towards us, money is the only real concern, or so it seems at least! That is a sad state of affairs!

    Last but not in the least important is the fact that we are the SANDWICH generation. Our parents decided to stop with 1-2 children and with the breakup of the joint family system, there is no support structure. Hence we are left to take care of our aging parents as well as care for our kids, the future generation, making us SANDWICHED between both. In the process, there is no time and life left to nurture our own dreams & aspirations. There is no short term solution to this, except to hope that people’s attitudes change. I am positive that when the current NRIs age & retire, we will have far lesser expectations from our kids and will be in a much better position to take care of ourselves emotionally and financially. That is the hope I live with!

  43. Well-written article…it might be applicable to many. though not to all.
    Seeing from another angle though, many might find it hard to accept that the parents (in some cases at least) also have a role to play in sending the children abroad.

    There are parents who seem to think it is matter of pride to have their children working /marrying and or settling abroad and they do encourage their children towards such a goal of escaping and settling abroad, living a cushioned life.

    I have heard people say to their children, “What is here? Study well, seek opportunities abroad…don’t come back. We would be happy if you earn high /settle well.”

    Then afterwards at old age they are left to fend for themselves and feel lonely despite possessing good amount of money. What is the point in exhibiting false pride that their children are earning abroad and everything is so organised there?

    It would be in the interest of the parents if they bring their children up with great love and care, also support them well for a good education here ….but thereafter if the children feel that they would prefer to study/work here in India the parents need to allow them to work in India itself, earning a considerable amount and not thrust their own unfulfilled desires /dreams upon the children or compare with relatives’ or neighbours’ children /their classmates etc and keep pushing their children to go abroad .

    I do agree about the difficult to handle daughter-in-law’s statement that a person has made somewhere above. Again it is very much applicable though not in all cases. Daughters-in-law seem to be immensely happy when their own parents visit them abroad but they don’t reciprocate the same feelings when their parents-in-law visit them, making them feel awkward and unwanted. They don’t encourage the children to mingle with husband’s side grand-parents the same way that they allow them to mingle with their own parents. Unfortunately, such sons are at the mercy of their wives when it comes to treating their parents well, and their parents do understand the situation.

    They don’t want to disturb their son’s life and don’t come abroad, often despite his calls. I have known people who don’t even express their desire to see the grand-kids and their son and keep acting over phone or Skype as though everything is fine …because they don’t wish to worry their son by saying that the daughter-in-law is not comfortable with them.
    Come on accept the truth !

  44. Am happy that I came across this article and further comments today elped me to decide what I am going to do and when. I had been thinking about moving back to India since last few months/ almost a year. From most of the posts above, I could see that lot of NRIs are worried about their parents in India being left alone in case of any health issue coming up. Unless there is another sibling back home in India who is living with parents, one has to depend on extended family- that too if there is one. And depending on extended family is not always a feasible option- after all they too have their own chores to take care of.

    So, like someone else said above- one has to set a limit to everything- contentment is the key word. Having lived abroad for long- about 10 years- seen many countries, I have been so lucky to have developed a feeling of contentment. Really thankful for that to the Almighty. And I still feel that I have enough strength- mental and physical- to go back and start up again at a job in India.

    When we could come from India to get established in US or Canada- then why can’t we get back to India and do the same- get established back there? Although things have changed a lot in India, but I hope since I have been visiting India for a month every year that will help me to reconnect more easily.
    People are always the same- they will be people- many will talk, say things. What matters most is our own conscience – being there for parents who gave up a lot for us. My father still does not want me to come back, but I know if not now- then in few more years he will need us.
    So I am working on it ‘now’, so that instead of ‘Time’ dictating me to go at a day or two’s notice to India- I better go now and try to make it a smoother transition on my own.
    Regards to everyone!

Leave A Reply