I am a thirty-year-old working mom. I have a son (8) and a daughter (6). I live in a joint family set up. My husband has a big family so there are a lot of people in the house even though its quite big. All you can hear is children fighting and screaming. Sometimes, even parents get involved and you can imagine the result. The thing is I am not used to these rowdy squabbles even after a decade. It’s my children I am worried about. I cannot keep them away from their cousins and they are learning some bad stuff. I asked my husband to separate from his family, but he does not want it. He has a good job and money is not a problem, but he says that his parents are alive, he would not split. I don’t want to pray for the death of my parents-in-law, but they are in their sixties and in good health. So, by the time they will pass away, my children will have grown up. I feel frustrated because my children are not growing up the way I want them to as they are turning into fighting machine. Please help.
Dear Frustrated Mom,
Living in a joint family can be problematic, especially where children are concerned. Since your husband is not willing to split from his parents, you need to do what’s best for your children in that house only. It’s not possible to keep your children away from their cousins unless you want to go to war with your in-laws and your husband. Even then you will end up losing. What you can do is to see that the children are supervised when they play. If your children do something you consider unsuitable, ground them, or give them ‘time out’. Make a schedule for your children and see that they adhere to the timings you set for them to play, study or watch TV. Also, your children take up a sport or some activity which could keep them away from home in the evening. You will have to sacrifice some of your ‘me time’ to supervise your children’s activities, but the result will more than make up for it. And as far as your parents-in-law are concerned, be a little compassionate. They are your husband’s parents and they deserve due respect. Sometimes you feel bad when one actually goes up. So try to negate your vicious thoughts. Best of luck!
I am an aloof, single, 20-year-old girl, doing graduation, and cannot trust people. My parents are very strict so my siblings and I aren’t close to them. We were loved and well cared for but didn’t have a friendly relationship as they had a notion to bring up children with ‘discipline’. They didn’t show any physical affection which had a deep impact on us. My siblings seem normal and they have friends who they share their secrets with, whereas I can’t with my friends. Friendships, nowadays, mean trading secrets, and my friends share anything and everything with me. I help them in every way I can but can’t express much. I sometimes fight with my brother and have a crush on a guy, but cannot say. Sometimes, I feel very depressed and lonely because I can’t discuss my personal issues. I’m a total failure when it comes to confiding in others. I also feel that if I tell my friends it wouldn’t solve anything and would rather make them upset on my account or I would be judged for having reserved parents. Does that make sense? I know I am doomed!
My siblings are busy with their studies and I keep myself busy, but the loneliness overpowers me that I end up crying. I want to know what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I trust people? I want a friend with whom I can share my thoughts. And most importantly, do you think I am abnormal? Why am I so weird?
Confused and Lonely!
Dear Confused and Lonely,
First of all, please rid yourself of the notion that you are abnormal. What you need to understand is that all of us are different temperamentally. Some people are shy and reserved while some are outgoing, confident and bold. Being different from others doesn’t make anyone abnormal or weird. How we grow up affects us, but even that does not happen in a uniform way. It’s not necessary that all siblings, brought up under similar circumstances, would grow up alike. They are bound to be different because we all are individuals with our own minds and personalities. Things affect everyone differently, which means your siblings are not as sensitive as you are and take life more lightly. You have friends who talk and discuss things with you because they trust you. They wouldn’t trust you if you were weird, now would they? So, just try to start liking yourself, because you are a good person and your friends know it. You are a private person, which is totally fine. Why should you go against your nature and discuss things with others you would rather not, especially when if it’s not affecting you or anyone else adversely? Just accept yourself the way you are, as others accept you. It’s good that you try to keep yourself busy, but watching TV is not the answer, as you cannot do it all the time. You need to keep yourself occupied physically. Go for walks or join a gym or work as a volunteer somewhere. You have too much pent up energy which is not being utilised. As a result, you feel depressed. Give yourself a purpose, and you will feel better. Best of luck!
Problems that need a solution? You can e-mail Prof. Nadine Khan at [email protected]