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How To Be A Parentparenting

THE CHILD PARENT

I am an 18–year-old girl, Karishma. My parents are having conflicts from the day they married. My father is a womanizer. From the last 2 months my mother suspects him to be involved in an affair. Her nature is also over suspicious. The reason behind her suspicion is just that my father started coming late from office after his work changed. But sometimes even I agree with my mother. My mother did not divorce him or commit suicide just for my sake. But now I am grown up. If this continues I fear she will commit suicide after I get married. Is there anything I can do to solve this problem. I am mature enough and I would really like if I can help my mother not to suffer. Now even I have lost interest in life; and I don’t even believe in love or marriage now.

 

Karishma is a child parent. The problem of the parents has forced her to address the problem as a parent. She has no respect for her father because she feels that he is not faithful to her mother. She would now be wary about respecting any male figure. It is now difficult for her to feel secure to trust anyone for her marriage. She would feel very despondent about her married life. Also, howsoever-supportive husband she finds, she may, at least for the first few years of her marriage, be in an internal terror of him becoming unfaithful to her. She may not exhibit this fear directly, but it may be manifested in her behavior of being overtly careful about his activities and being vigilant regarding his relationships with everybody. This has the chances of compromising her relationship with her husband. In this sense she has succeeded in bringing the problem of her parents’ marriage into her own marriage and creating a problem where there was none. This is often due to the guilt of not being able to help her parents. But she fails to realize that even creating the problem in her marriage can never help her mother in her own difficulties with her husband. Her parents have to sort out the problem themselves. She is prone to act as the aggrieved in the marriage like her mother is doing. One may feel that if Karishma’s family life were such a mess, she would have felt extremely eager to find someone who could take care of her and make her free of these troubles. She might feel that just as her mother has spent her entire life after her child, she too must respond back and do likewise. This would be a big folly. She has to see beyond their problem and only then can she help bring a solution that brings peace to all the three.

 

What can Karishma do?

 

Firstly you need to clarify the image of your parents and their situation in your mind. You have to sit down with your parents and put the problem on the table. You cannot solve the problem if they do not feel that it is a problem and they do not want to change the situation. Your parents have to discuss themselves as to how much is there between them. You can support them face the facts that they discover. It appears that the following issues have to be addressed: your father’s interest in the marriage, your mother’s attitude towards her husband, your feeling guilty for your parents’ problem and your punishment to yourself by depriving yourself of your happiness of life.

 

Your father has to decide regarding his interest in the marriage. It seems that a lot depends on his faith in the relationship. Whatever doubts are there need to be clarified. It would be mindless to doubt every action. If the doubts are not being clarified you might have wonder about the possibility of either your mother being paranoid about the situation or else your father not wishing to clarify beyond a point because of the fear of truth. You must be prepared for either of these situations. It seems from your condition that you are inclined towards the latter but it must be put on the table so that you can think about the next action. Your mother has known your father’s nature since the beginning; she has probably accepted it. You might have to prepare her for the situation after you depart. She has to start finding her own interests in what life has to offer her. Maybe it is a little late to start, but nevertheless she has to become independent if she has to survive. She would really need to sit down with her own self and address the issue of her interest in her marriage. She has to look beyond her duties as a mother and a wife to her life as an individual.

You might be exaggerating the effect of your holding the family together. You do not have to be so harsh on yourself. You have probably felt let down by your parents and you may feel that you have no one to look up to. While it is true that parental images are the foundations of one’s values and beliefs about life, and it is difficult to accept the disappointments of not being able to have parents whom you can look up to, you still have a long way to go. Look at the positive experiences of your life in order to feel good. You do not need to feel disinterested in marital life because of whatever problems that your parents have gone through. If marriage were to be such a bad experience to have, it would not be advocated this strongly. Look at other couples and families around you and you will realize that there are many things to enjoy in a married life. The best help that you can give them is to take hold of your life and be happy. Be realistic, not idealistic and life may seem to be worth living.

Dr. Darshan Shah

Dr. Darshan Shah, a renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is committed to make a difference in the area of mental health and help individuals cope with feelings and symptoms; change behavior patterns that may contribute to one’s illness and henceforth contribute to their newly improved pathway of life.

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