Much is said and written about teenagers – their lack of discipline, their impatience and their supposed lack of regard for what elders think. While parents often pride themselves in how they grew up to be the more responsible generation in the then pre-internet (more difficult) times.
We decided to find out whether the two – seemingly different parities, a generation apart from each other – are really as different as we believe or are actually more similar than we think?
To get a better understanding of the parent child relationship during adolescence, we got mommy AnupamaJain (45) and daughter Anoushka Jain (19) on the same page to reflect on the same questions and issues…
TT: What is your take on premarital sex and consensual sex? Define consent?
Anupama (Mom): As a mother, I feel, I have no issues with my son having premarital sex, he most definitely should before getting hooked. But when it comes to my daughter, a slight hitch comes into play. I guess we need to fine tune with the current scenario and work towards making them independent and strong. Once they reach that stage, then why exclude the notion of premarital sex? As long as it’s not under the influence of alcohol and is consensual, I guess it is okay. Consent is a must. It shouldn’t be just to please her or his partner.
Anoushka (Daughter): I believe in premarital sex which is consensual. Sex before marriage can be consensual. Sometimes, post marital sex can also be non-consensual. Consent is when two people, irrespective of their gender, have agreed to share the moment together. They need not be in love.
TT: Your take on teen relationships and dating?
Anupama: I think they should date because the experiences attached to it can teach you to deal with so many emotions, which include a better understanding of relationships, happy/ sad feelings and self-realizations.
Anoushka: I think teen relationships are good as the experiences are fulfilling.
TT: What do you have in mind for your child's career and future plans? / What do you have in mind for your future? Your career plans?
Anupama: As long as they are happy and satisfied in what they do, I am a happy parent. As parents we start living our dreams through our children, which may be not so good for them. I see my daughter as a successful banker and my son a flourishing business man.
Anoushka: I am currently in 2nd year of college studying finance so, I guess in future I'd like to go abroad for further studies and maybe get a job there.
TT: What is the ideal TV time you allow your child? / What and how long is your preferred TV time?
Anupama: An hour on weekdays and 2-3 hrs on weekends is good!
Anoushka: I don't have a specific time but I generally watch in the evening/night because I am at college the whole day, and I like to come home and relax.
TT: Friends; everyone gets to choose their own. How important is parent's approval on the company kids keep?
Anupama: As parents it is a good checkpoint to keep, as all good and bad influences can easily come through the company they move in.
Anoushka: I think friends are extremely important in one's life and it is up to the person to choose the kind of friends they have in their life. A parent should give advice if they feel that their child is in bad company.
TT: Each individual has interests and hobbies. Is it okay for parents to have a say in what kids love and pursue for leisure?
Anupama: Sometimes, the parents need to push kids to pursue their skills and talents outside of the digital world that they get trapped in.
Anoushka: I think parents can push the child in a direction but it is up to the child to decide what his/her hobbies are. Nothing should be forced upon them.
TT: Fitness, health and food choices, what is the ideal way to go about it?
Anupama: That’s the toughest balance to keep! Healthy food, erratic sleep hours and regular exercising is difficult to achieve.
Anoushka: It should be a balance of all these. Don’t do anything in excess.
TT: How do you define quality family time? How much more or less of it do you think you need?
Anupama: I think spending quality family time together is extremely important. Even having dinner together makes a huge difference, which is, by the way, a rule everyone abides to in the family. Some other things include watching their favourite TV shows together, playing board games, watching movies and travelling are our ways of spending quality family time.
Anoushka: Family time is spending some time with your family and it doesn't matter what you're doing as long as it's fun.
TT: How much participation do you think you should make in your child's affairs? / What extent of participation do you expect from your parents in your personal, professional and social affairs?
Anupama: I encourage them to take decisions on their own and I only facilitate and advise when they seek it! Self-learning is the best learning. Confidence and independence can only be imparted through this.
Anoushka: I expect them to have some participation in all aspects of my life. But they shouldn't get over involved in anything.
TT: What you wish your child understood about you? / What you wish your parents understood about you?
Anupama: I wish they understood my personality a little better. Also I do not approve of their religious ways as much. Sometimes the kids should understand that we are individuals outside of parenthood and can behave otherwise.
Anoushka: My parents are very understanding, though its only human to feel frustrated and not-understood at times.
TT: What are your expectations from you kid? How do you inspire them to meet them? / What do you think about your parent’s expectation from you? Are they unrealistic or fair? Do you feel inspired enough to meet them?
Anupama: I want them to be happy, sensitive, strong and helpful.. They should have good memories of their childhood and time spent with us, which they can foster. I wish and pray for their professional and marital success.
Anoushka: My parents expect a whole lot of things from me. I agree with most of them, but sometimes, certain things can become unrealistic. I am inspired to meet them, but sometimes I get very lazy.
Hence proved – we conclude that there is more consensus between parents and kids than we thought. Parents and teenager relationship trumps over the parents and teenager conflicts! Tell us you aren’t ecstatic to know that you may actually be on the same page as your parents about issues that seemed difficult to even bring up!
We suggest, now that you are on the same page, both parties put in some work to stay there.
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The above may be just another quote on rejection but it perfectly sums up the life of a man who turned his adversity into an opportunity. Himanshu Shady is someone who not only survived parental rejection (his father chose to walk away from the family when Himanshu was a young boy) but also turned his suffering into a beautiful children’s art project.
Himanshu learnt to deal with the wounds that his parent’s separation had caused, with much heart and art. His art projects; Bombay Underground that supports independent publishing and the Dharavi Art Room, where he holds art classes for the underprivileged kids from Dharavi make a beautiful survival story about dealing with parental rejection.
Rejection they say can be a blessing in disguise; quitting a tough job can lead to a dream job, a break up can lead to your life partner. While that is largely true, how do you deal with rejection when it comes from a parent, and for no fault of your own! Here is Himanshu’s story of surviving parental rejection in his own words…
Putting the art in heart
Art can be therapeutic, and a great medium to vent pent-up feelings. Himanshu, who was always good with drawings, pursued Fine Arts from the JJ School of Arts, Mumbai. “Some of my art work still has those references because the vacuum still exists and it keeps resurfacing in my work. Even though it’s not exactly a painful memory anymore, I don’t think the incomplete feeling ever goes away. However, what is nice is that one learns to deal with it,” he says.
It is natural to feel angry when we feel dejected, and while you must not bottle your feelings, it is important to know how to deal with them. Himanshu agrees; “I am a conscious citizen of our country and am angry about things that are wrong with our system, but I keep that side of me outside my student’s life. I try to channelize my anger into constructive things like my art. May be the fact that I chose to teach kids has something to do with what was missing in my childhood, so maybe that’s the good that came out of it.”
Uprooting and leaving
There is nothing more painful than being uprooted from one’s home. Himanshu tells us; “I spent my entire childhood in Vasai but the place had so many memories of my father that we’ve just not gone back. Even though I like the peace and greens of Vasai we never went back because the people there favored him. So I had to uproot myself and move away. Once my father left we had to leave home because of the court’s notice and because we weren’t that economically strong. My mother was left alone to take care of us. We were isolated as a family.”
The shadow follows…
Rejection is a part of growing up but when it comes from a parent and its shadow follows you around – “People treat you badly because you come from a different background. So you tend to find a different space to escape into and eventually that space becomes your whole world. Any human being tries to find a comfort zone. Once I found that place in my work it gave me the positivity I needed.
People made us feel that we were not like other kids, and I’d like to believe we turned out better if not like others, not that anyone is bad. So the shadow of my father’s doing followed us and influenced how others treated us. But that is what I believe made me inclined towards what I do now. So maybe it doesn’t totally cure this impact of a messy childhood but one finds ways to deal with it like I found mine.” Himanshu quips.
Friends were family were friends
They say when we lose something, we are meant to find something better. With that faith intact, Himanshu found some good friends along the way. Speaking fondly of them, he says; “I must point out, what I missed in my personal family I found in my other family, my friends, who have all helped me along the way. So I was really lucky to find this extended family that was different from what was given to me.”
If letting go is important then that is precisely what Himanshu did with his father’s name. “I make up stories about my second name. I don’t use my father’s surname because it is just a reminder of so many negative things. Plus I don’t know the language or culture associated to that name. In fact people from that sect have bothered us so I just don’t have positive memories attached to it. Earlier I was uncomfortable telling my story, now I have come to terms with it.”
On Dharavi Art Room and Bombay Underground
The lack of a father figure and positive influence in his own life drives Himanshu to fill that vacuum in his student’s life, with lots of love and art therapy. “With my students from the Dharavi Art Room, I make sure they get the exposure through us and meet the people that teach them something. With this Art Room I’m just trying to create a space where we all can learn and share something. I don’t know if I’m making a difference but the fact that they come here without the pressure of any attendance means that they are having a good time so I hope that I am a tiny factor that will affect them positively”
“Bombay Underground (BU) is active in terms of its association with people. We have rented a space in Dharavi so it has become a nice entity of its own. Initially it was pretty irregular, considering my own life has been irregular. But BU is still into independent publications. So a lot of people dealing with their own troubles can vent out, because that space is always open through Bombay Underground,” Himanshu concludes.
If you have a story to share,Click Here
If you have a query,Click Here.
You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.