My parents love me, but I can’t love them back

Published: September 26, 2012

Yes, I live a luxurious life, but what's the point of all the luxuries when you aren't happy?

My parents are not divorced and no, they don’t fight all the time. They love me and I know it. I just can’t seem to love them back.

So the story goes somewhat like this.

I was thrown into a boarding school when I was still young. I was bullied day and night; my teachers were not too great and I was beaten up by the prefects and everyone in authority. Sure, I had spent my childhood getting beaten up by my father and my grandfather a million times, but I thought boarding school was supposed to be like Harry Potter, not The Dead Poets Society. I thought it would be a place where I could escape the wrath of the titan – the titan being my dad, as he refuses to do anything but sit in front of the TV, watch politics and eat.

Subjecting me to public humiliation was a norm for my father and every relative was aware of my deepest humiliation. No one dared interfere with what he said because his temper was unforgiving. I had always been a different child and barely had any friends. But my parents didn’t care. I was bullied throughout my life for being me. It was hard to make friends. I attempted to commit suicide numerous times, but that didn’t bother anyone.

No action was taken by my parents.

I didn’t even die.

I find it very difficult to make excuses for myself when I see all the other kids being accompanied by their parents during admission interviews, while my parents couldn’t be bothered enough to show up. It takes super-human effort to sit in the waiting room alone and listen to my interviewer criticise my parents for being so irresponsible.

It’s hard to get all your paperwork and college applications done yourself without any parental help. It is even harder to be rejected and know all the while that you might have made it if your father had proof-read your forms.

Yet, whenever I asked my father for help, this simple answer would be hurled at me:

Jo karna hai karo, meri taraf se bhar mein jao.”

(Do what you want, from my side you can go to hell)

It’s so tiring waking up to a hostile atmosphere where no one listens and you’re forced to act like an adult and take care of yourself every single day.

Even when you try to fix things, nobody cares, because nobody listens.

I have been blessed with all the worldly pleasures one can imagine. My parents simply counter any complains I make by reminding me of all the money I spend, and all the expensive things they get me.

But do they ever lend me an ear?

All I want is some of their precious time.

No, I don’t want the latest cell phone and no, I don’t want go out to eat tonight. I just want my parents to listen to me and my problems and tell me that everything is going to be okay. What’s the point of these luxuries if happiness doesn’t come along with them?

I don’t recall a time when my father told me that he loves me.

Even though I am fairly young, I believe that parents should be there for children in every form – simply providing financial support does not free a parent from his/her responsibility. Moreover, having suffered physical abuse, I can state with certainty that this only breeds resent and serves absolutely no purpose in a parent-child relationship. Beating or spanking, though it may be effective in the short term, can have a drastic impact on a child’s mind and the way it perceives life. In fact, it deepens a pre-existing communication barrier between a child and his parents. Talking things out, I think would work much better.

Even our religion teaches us that children must be treated with kindness.

It’s not just my family that subjects children to such torture; I know that many households in Pakistan have parents just like mine; many parents are so engrossed in the pursuit of money that they not only neglect their offspring but vent their frustration on them too.

Even though I am old enough to stand up for myself today, I know deep down that I will always long for a hug from my father or just some time from my mother. No stick was thick enough to beat this feeling out of me.

Is corporal punishment of children in order to discipline them appropriate?

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Momin Sultan

Momin Sultan

A medical student by force and a writer by choice. Loves poetry and wants to grow up to be a professor of literature.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.