Indians need to stop living with their parents

Published: September 20, 2016
Email

Cohabiting with parents despite having a job that can pay for your own apartment, is a phenomenon unique to the Indian subcontinent. PHOTO: TELEGRAPH

Ever wondered why small town bumpkins in India are smarter than their big city counterparts? (Oh yes, they are). It’s because unlike the Indian city dwellers that shack up with their parents late into their 20s – some into their 30s and some even after marriage – the small towners come to the cities to strike it out on their own. They live alone, struggle, scour, scrounge and “find” themselves, if you like, in the process.

As a contrast, the over-parented, mollycoddled city youngsters show themselves up as emotional waifs and exhibit symptoms including high-brow prudery, crabby uptightness, and sundry social attitudes unique to big cities.

Cohabiting with parents despite having a job that can pay for your own apartment, is a phenomenon unique to the Indian subcontinent. All over the world, young adults living with their parents are pejoratively called “Big Babies.” In Italy they are called bamboccoioni and Mammone – (mamma’s boys).

To justify this behaviour, you hear a lot of sanctimonious drivel about Indian values and about the special family bond, which the cold-individualistic westerners, can never understand.

The biggest fallacy is the assumption those who continue to live with their parents, love them more. The truth is, it’s a minefield of squabbles out there and the built up rancour in the family is so thick, you can cut it with a knife.

It has nothing to do with love in the first place. Or with our great Indian culture – which is invoked every time in a discussion of this nature. The reasons for shacking up with parents are usually selfish; not being economically independent, high rentals, security and comfort, warm home-cooked meals, not having to deal with a pesky landlord or simply, plain laziness.

What is utterly selfish is the fact that people prefer to live with their parents as long as the latter are comparatively healthy and are able to fulfil their needs – (material, psychological, emotional). But ironically the living-with-parents advocates are the first ones to scoot when the parents grow old and need attention. There are umpteen cases of children abandoning their old, invalid parents. The excuses are familiar; had to focus on my career, my marriage, my children’s education et al.

There is an assumption that parents need no space or privacy. Everyone does. Even Indian parents. And because young adults don’t get out of their homes and grant it to them, parents never know what it means to enjoy that space and the emotionally uncluttered quietude that comes with it.

One can maybe cut the slack for those who are not economically independent – though pray why a middle-class Indian is still dependent in their late 20s or 30s is mindboggling and perhaps a subject of another debate. But what excuse would an educated, fully functional adult, who can afford to rent a place of his own, have to continue to hoard up with his parents, if not because of a mental malaise.

Living with parents has more pernicious un-doings than just the fact that you stop growing. Having been couched up with all those gooey feelings and not having an opportunity to let one’s emotions mature, one is almost beside oneself with them. As a sad consequence one morphs into a clingy, needy creature that goes from being clingy and needy with one’s parents to being clingy and needy with one’s boyfriend/ girlfriend (or husband/ wife).

To be fair, mostly the parents themselves are to be blamed for their adult sons and daughters squatting at home. One cannot countenance the fact that your child is in the same city and not living with you. The very big and the very Indian – what will people say question looms overhead keeping the children within the family fold. And at the same alter of Indian values; appearances must be kept, no matter if behind closed doors the two generations are at each other’s throat.

As if living with one’s parents before one’s marriage wasn’t absurd enough.

What takes the cake is living with them post-marriage. What makes it even more bizarre is having to live with someone else’s parents – an ignominy that marriage thrusts on Indian girls.

To be in a family is great but to be moored in it all the time is lacking the will to explore one’s own impulses. Without any wind in our sails we risks becoming our parent’s clones and instead of making up our own minds about the world, we end up peddling our parent’s ancient attitudes and out-dated beliefs. After all, religious indoctrination and deep orthodoxies, like patriarchy, jingoism, and caste-identities are imbibed not in school canteens but in family living rooms. It’s not a coincidence therefore that many youngsters now claim their only ambition in life is to become like their mummy or daddy.

This imitation of the past by the youth pushes the nation as whole a generation backwards. Back to the parent’s generation, perhaps further back because their parents imitated their own and in this regressive backsliding we are transported back to the middle ages.

This post originally appeared here.

Sanjay Austa

Sanjay Austa

The author is a journalist, photographer and a part time orchardist. He divides his time between New Delhi and Himachal. He tweets @sanjayausta

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

  • Parvez

    An absolutely brilliant topic, its seldom one reads a view as well articulated as yours.
    Having experienced some of what you write about, I’ll say that I agree with you.
    I remember what my father told me years ago ……. if you want to hold on to your children, you must let them go….. this was excellent advice.Recommend

  • Ali S

    I find that in many cases the parents are the strongest advocates for such joint-family systems – it stems from a cultural need of elders being afraid to lose their unquestioned authority even after their children grow up rather than our oft-repeated mantra of ‘family values’ and ‘parental bonding and love’. I’ll admit that I’ve seen some happy ones, but it’s quite dysfunctional in many cases (especially with many male siblings), especially for the wives.Recommend

  • Arsha

    There is another point of view – often times boys do not leave the house of parents even after marriage because then they are accused of abandoning the parents. It’s often fed to them since childhood that they would always be the ones taking care of parents, being their support etc which is equated to living with them. In fact parents themselves thrust that expectation on their male children. So with that burden of responsibility, even the thought of moving out brings in load of guilt.Recommend

  • gp65

    Have you considered the possibility that living together maybe an economic necessity due to sky high apartment rents in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore?
    You do not see 2nd generation Indians living in USA continuing to live with parents.
    Even in US where a lot of kids cannot afford to pay for their apartments and utilities and also pay their college tuition, they are moving back with parents. They are called the boomerang generation.
    Anyone that can afford to live separately will do so. When they cannot, people have a face saving way to do so in India.
    I fully expect that if depressed growth lasts for another decade or more in Europe, they too will see boomerang kids.Recommend

  • Khan

    there is nothing wrong with letting the children go as well there is nothing wrong with children living with their parents……It’s part of every nation’s and every religions culture.

    Unfortunately, in today’s world, it is easy to criticize your won culture based on the brainwashing of media and lifestyle of western nations that our countrymen learn from foreign movies.

    Every way of life has it’s beauty.

    The beauty aspect of living with ones parents/combined family is the love, respect and care that people in western world is clueless about. The byproduct is a society that is respectful and caring not only to parents but to the society as well. (The real factor in this case is training and environment of the combined family house).

    The beauty aspect of separating from family is mainly materialistic in nature. In western nations, most of the parents let their children go early in age so that parents don’t have to spend on them and use that money for their own necessities. This is also a driver of western economies as the independent kids start earning early, pay taxes (state / Federal income), rent apartments, lease/buy automobile, take out credit cards and spend money like crazy and go bankrupt early in life. Not to mention having kids out of wedlock and end up paying monthly for ex-wife as well as the kid’s.Recommend

  • MR.X

    No,never leave your parents… They are the ones who took years of hardship for you..A man with no self-respect says such things as leaving your parents..A wife may leave you but parents will be there to the end and their loyalty is the best thing to cherish..Stop following the westeren civilization which has collapsed in these regards.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Everything has a solution… The ‘economic necessity’ that you say is mostly because of dependence on parents, and other issues like not ready to relocate or not living within means (splurge on that latest iphone) etc. In the US kids get independent around 18, work in McDonald’s and enjoy with their boy/girlfriends, rather than asking their parents for ‘pocket-money’..
    BTW moving back with parents (after experiencing the world on your own and developing independence & maturity) is fine. What he’s talking about is moving out of your parents’ shadow as that stunts growth and breeds dependence.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Partly correct… One should leave one’s parents for a while to develop independence (moving out of their shadow) & maturity. One can move back in, if you and your family/wife are compatible with parents.. BTW, you can move into a house near your parents, so that both can be independent, yet can be cared for.Recommend

  • MR.X

    really difficult with the prevailing economic condition to leave them too..for the majority of usRecommend

  • farhan

    with the prevailing economic conditions its nearly impossible for the majorityRecommend

  • farhan

    better to stay with your parents..most loyal gifts given by God..And much more loyal than the wife from what i seeRecommend

  • Videlicet

    Wow, what an eye-opener!
    Living with parents– what a silly thing to do! Does anyone in the West do it? Hardly. Why should we do it? Why the hell can’t we live our lives like Americans and Italians. Let’s learn family values from them.

    How silly is it to wash our rear rather than wiping with a tissue? Respecting elders?! How unwestern, mammone, bamboni, jungfröz and l’eauçeaux all these are! Shame!Recommend

  • Arsha

    We talk idealistically about living with parents with love and respect however daily reality is usually quite different. Daily conflicts, extreme sensitivities, etc are more the norm. In my view young adults should definitely be encouraged to move out and live independently for a few years. That makes them stronger, more resourceful, more confident as well as more broad minded individuals. After that if they choose to come back to live with parents, the dynamics are likely to be much different amd for the better.Recommend

  • Patwari

    There is a better solution. All hindus should move to Antartica.
    And live with the penguins. No one really gives a doozy where
    the hindus are living. As long as they move out of the Sub Continent….Recommend

  • MR.X

    Brother as a muslim we must try not to say such things which spread hate..Just guide them that anyone should not leave their parents who changed their diapers and what not. And when their parents needed them they left them because of their wife etc..The rest is up to them, we can only try..Stay blessedRecommend

  • Patwari

    Make a left when you get out the door. It will
    lead you straight to your neighborhood Wahabi
    mosque. Seems like you don’t like women either
    …..”left because of their wife”….tough luck.
    Women make up more than 52% of the world’s populationRecommend

  • MR.X

    Alhamdulillah ive never had a girlfriend as i try to be a practising muslim..NO its not against women ..Please refrain from usng shaming tactics used by feminists who when you tell them something they dont like call you a ‘women hater’. i have a mother who i love, so please my brother stop the hate..Parents are more loyal than wife , i guarantee you this, ask married men. Ive seen it and also told by my friends who are married..Its a fact, not woman hating. One of the parents is mother(a woman).Recommend

  • farhan

    isnt one of the parents also a woman(mother). Is that woman hating.use common logic..he was just stating a fact that parents are more loyal..anyone who says otherwise is dumbRecommend

  • farhan

    you won my heart with you sarcasm…As we say in urdu “Mehfil loot li”Recommend

  • Patwari

    Get a life. When you marry a woman, she is your
    equal partner. Not your chattel.
    This has nothing to do with your mother.
    But you will not understand this. It’s beyond you.
    The Mullahs, in Pakland, say it’s OK to beat your
    wife lightly. With that kind of mentality prevalent,
    you should ………..get a life. pronto.
    Savvy?Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Real estate industry trying to raise property prices by increasing demand for property. Split up families so that instead of needing one home, a family will need four or five homes. Financially, Environmentally and psychologically unsound advice.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    This is why India is the rape capital of the world, Indians consider women equal to men.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Daily conflicts due to one person with mental illness, Bipolar Disorder, is not solved by independent living it is made worse as the mentally ill person will have less restraint. Mentally ill persons need to be in the controlled environment of their family.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Cannot afford the high prices created by housing industry predators, who place ads like this article to increase property demand by encouraging the breakup of families.Recommend

  • Arsha

    So every family having a conflict is because someone is mentally ill? Are you kidding me? So as per you, every time spouses have a fight it is because one if them is bipolar?!!!
    Please read up about how badly old parents are often treated by their children in asia, then you read up about how dynamics in joint families generate conflicts. Try to have an objective point of view based on facts.Recommend

  • Xyz

    Parents will always be more there for you than your spouse. And the same thing goes for both husband and wife. A husband can never be as loyal to his wife as her own parents.
    People find fault with woman if she is unable to adjust with her in laws but then how many men even make any effort to adjust with their wives’ family? In fact a woman is expected to care less for her own parents than her in laws…. Isn’t that hypocrisy?Recommend

  • MR.X

    Quran and hadith dont say anything as equal partners, the man is the leader. Quran allows beating which is backed by evidence as i myself have read it..You get a life ,hypocrite muslim.. Read hadith about womens shortcoming in religion and intelligence as stated by the prophet(SAW).. Is that misogynyst??Recommend

  • MR.X

    spot onRecommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Correct, either one or both mania is the underlying cause of the conflict, identifiable by the screaming. Bipolar Disorder is hereditary, inherited from one or both parents. Asian culture is aware of the mental illness, usually referred to as “dimagh kharab hai” meaning “the brain is ruined” Your culture is not as opaque to the rest of the world as you assume.Recommend

  • MR.X

    Ofcourse i never said that husbands are more loyal than parents..never ever..He was saying to leave them and i disagreed with him on this basis.. Usually in our culture sons take care of their parents and if you dont have a son then the husband and their daughter do.., That is how things work..
    no hypocrisy in it..
    Of course ,she must adjust herself as generations of our mother did,, you cant be narccisstic like the westeren women and make it all about yourself.
    As for your second argument i can also say men are expected to be responsible for their wife more(and he usually does) or else no rishta takes place.. isnt that hypocrisy??Im all for man being responsible as it is according to islam..Just saying men and women have different roles.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    umm who are you and why should i care about your opinion about MY LIFE and how I CHOOSE TO LIVE IT?

    No who is this guy man? coming here telling us not to live with our parents. Stop imposing your immoral opinions on the rest of usRecommend

  • gp65

    In US, if a single man is working in McDonald, he can easily afford to pay rent to a 2 bedroom home within driving distance of where he lives. In India even a manager in an ordinary Indian company (not a highflying IT company or foreign bank or MNC) will find it difficult to pay rent within 2 hours of commute in a city like Mumbai – let alone paying for EMI. In India typically price of a home (like a bungalow in India ) is equivalent to 3-4 years of income. In India it is closer to 15 years of income. So your comparison to US is not valid.
    It is not just due to unnecessary expenses like latest iPhone that people are unable to afford a separate residence.Recommend

  • Arsha

    Well then as per you almost all the global adult population is mentally ill or bipolar. Good to know!Recommend

  • LS

    He is a pakistani.. got it? Rape capitals is South Africa with highest rapes per 100,000 women.. get a life.. Largest number of rapes committed by foreign nationals are pakistanis and Muslims.. around the world.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    One of the largest Indian Hindu expatriate populations is in South Africa, you proved my point.Recommend

  • LS

    if you dug a little deeper you would see that those arrested and accused are NOT Indians. There is no point left to be proven. Except that your country needs to improve its education standards.

    In Germany pakistani are ranked top in abusing children.. Same Bachabaji culture.. there too..Recommend