This is not a blog but an essay based on thoughts that come to mind. A portal http://seeyourfolks.com/ has a method of calculating how many times one would meet one’s parents, after leaving home for a job or a career. It calculates this based on parents age, how busy the job keeps the child (current frequency of visiting parents)!! It is a realistic calculation based on such parameters. The site also considers life expectancy for obvious reasons. The faint hearted should not visit this site because the answers are blunt! Given below are some additional points, to the thought process the web site may have given while doing the calculation. The site considers only the physical aspect but not the emotional aspects.
In this essay only thoughts are placed and no solutions are attempted (also because there may be no solutions!). In today’s world chances of parents and children living in the same city are pretty remote. If parents and child do not live in the same city or country, then things become even more complex. At the beginning of the career, money is an issue hence chances of travel to meet parents are less. Also one is busy seeing the world!! As the career progresses, money issue starts diminishing but home and work responsibilities increase and time available to travel becomes an issue due to marriage, kids; in general one has to spend more time with own family hence time available to meet parents becomes less and less. Then there are in-laws, they are also your spouse’s parents so time availability for meeting parents is shared further.
Grand children may be somewhat close to grandparents initially but relevance of grandparents diminishes in their lives as grandchildren grow. Another thing is that grandparents cannot correlate with what the grand child is doing because of the lack of knowledge about modern things and the generation gap. This happens especially when parents are old world i.e not tech savvy. The issue that adds to this is the frequency of physical meeting between grandparents & grandchildren. Older the grandchildren grow, the gap goes on increasing and relevance of meetings goes on diminishing. Technology like Skype is supposed bring people closer but grandchildren can be so busy they may not have time and inclination to come in front of the screen!!
Add to this the health of parents. Parents can have and are expected to have health issues due to age and otherwise. This will limit their travel to the place where the child lives. Due to globalization the child may be living in Antarctica!! Weather conditions may not suit and there could be commitments that parents themselves may have, that will restrict their travel. Further to this, there are other extraneous issues that could limit their meetings. For the child there is also need for the leisure travel and holidays with own family.
Consider human relations aspect, things can become interesting and different than expected. We assume that child and parent relationship will never change but we also know that even amongst friends, friendship needs to be cultivated. It is also said that time is the medicine to overcome many sorrows but this same time plays truant if parent child relationship is not cultivated. With distance and time, one may continue to have ebbing relationship with the child (from the child’s point of view). Then there is relationship of other family members with parents. Unless there is a special effort, relationship with other members of the child’s family including the grand children may not really reach any level. This can add to deciding frequency of meetings.
There is a question of responsibilities. As far as child is concerned it has no responsibilities about parents! (Don’t be shocked with this statement) For the simple reason that child does not come in this world on its own and there is never a demand from the child to be borne. So saying that child has a responsibility towards parents is inaccurate, and putting too much pressure on them. Parents definitely have the responsibility to bring up the child and make sure that the child is brought up in such a way that it is fit to live in the real world. After this stage the responsibility aspect is over and it is more of an emotional attachment.
Typically a child is expected to leave home between the ages of 22 to 25 and parents’ age at that time could be between 50 & 60. If one considers a span of twenty years, parents will then be between 70 & 80. At this stage parents, naturally, may not want to travel and it will depend mainly on the child to decide if and when to meet. Child also has reached the age of 45 by that time. So career wise it becomes tricky to handle frequent family travels.
Managing health issues from far is very complex, and difficult. After a certain stage, health issues will come up quite frequently and child’s degree of difficulty of managing parent’s health issues, and own family responsibilities, goes up exponentially.
Health and health management expenses become an important issue from this point onwards. In certain areas of the world, this can become a major issue for child’s family because it is tough both financially and physically. There was a case where parents lived in India during this phase and children lived in foreign countries. Because of their respective careers and family commitments it was not possible for children to be in India all the time, though their travel frequency was high. They had made arrangements in India in such a way (parents’ physical movements were restricted) that things were being handled in the best possible manner, under the circumstances. It is for every child and his family to decide what they want do. With one clear understanding “It is not children’s responsibility”!! So maybe they give their best shot under the circumstances.
Time waits for nobody and life goes on irrespective of closeness between child and parents. This adage is important in life as conflicting situations are happening more frequently. These situations will further strain, not in relationship, but in frequency of meetings. The end result could be strain in relationship; though this will never be from parent’s side but for the child also it is very tough! Parents will always understand the child’s difficulties and will ensure that everything will always look hunky dory!
What is life? Is it the life led by parents? And are children on periphery? Or at some stage the situation is reversed and parents are on periphery? One can see that conclusions from above discussions, will be very complex. This is very similar to life in general. Outwardly solutions will appear easy but they are not. Solutions, if any, will be as complex as the conclusions. In such situations it is best not to draw any conclusions!!
So each individual has his or her own life; we come into this world alone and meander through it. It is a like a long distance train passage. There are stations in between, there are Red signals, and there are main junctions. There will be other travelers who will come on board, become very close, become family but then at some stage other travelers get down to take a train or a flight to other destination and start their own journey. One continues his journey to the final destination. That is life and it’s your own life!!