Like most people around me, I had a love-hate relationship with my parents. They expected too much from me, and there was always an undercurrent of – you aren’t good enough. For the longest, that attitude of theirs crippled me in many ways.
The worst came after my marriage when my parents refused to let me go and spread my wings on my own. Throughout my childhood, they treated me like an adult who could handle her life by herself. Sadly, when the time came to let go, they just couldn’t.
In the end, even though they intended well, my parents became a reason for my agony. In trying to make my life perfect, they hardly let me make mistakes or revel in the beauty of imperfection. Due to that, I could never talk openly to them about anything. Sometimes, it appeared like they were living my life for me. Yet, it seemed like they were barely there for me when I needed them.
At one point, I felt suffocated by their constant advice of what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. To take charge of my life, I pushed back firmly. From reasoning with them to reprimanding them to speaking to them about non-attachment, I did it all. That reverse-swing from me caused immense suffering to my parents.
Long story short, I was bitter with them, but that’s behind me now. Presently, I love them and deeply care for their well-being. Though, like with everyone else, I’ve grown detached from my parents too. Well, I’m a Sanyasi by attitude. For good or bad, that’s how I am made. A few things cannot be rewired in me, and this is one of them.
Back to the topic at hand, my parents had many positives and negatives like all of us. Despite it all, I consider them – one of the most incredible parents out there!
That’s not because they made me financially independent and taught me to be street smart. It’s not because they filled me up with information and did everything to care for me. Perhaps, not even because they dropped their dream of owning a home to pay for my high-grade education and extracurriculars. From what I know, many good parents might have done that.
There’s just one thing that places my parents amongst the great ones out there – they introduced me to my inner world early in my life. If I could swim through my turbulent life, it was because of their foundation in building my inner strength. During my down days, it was my spiritual mindset that kept me fighting.
Even when I gave up, my husband rekindled my interest in internal change to keep me afloat. My desperation for self-growth brought Swami into my life. Finally, when Swami took on the task of helping me, he tapped into my inner search to help me rebuild myself.
Today, the only thing that keeps me walking past the bricks thrown by life is my inner strength. In particular, the fortitude to believe – I’m not a beggar for social approval in this world. Neither does social disapproval rock me. Instead, I am a queen of my heart who can keep herself going despite it all.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be vulnerable at times. It means I will somehow find the resilience to bounce back from my adversities. That’s how it has been so far, and I doubt it will be any different in the future.
From my experience, I can find just one difference between good parenting and great parenting. The greatest of parents don’t expect us to be strong. On the contrary, they understand that inner strength is an art that needs learning and practice. Rather than pushing us to follow some rituals or norms, they strive to instill habits that make us strong. And, they start doing that even before we learn to crawl!
Image: My parents with Swami