Woman's Era - - Contents -

IAM A 19- YEAR-OLD COL­LEGE STU­DENT AND AM THE ONLY CHILD of my par­ents. I know that my par­ents love me, but, though I have never dis­cussed the mat­ter with them, I have in­stinc­tively known for a long time, that my par­ents would have liked to have had one more child. I do not think that they would have been par­tic­u­lar that the sec­ond child be a boy, but they would have wanted that child to be more their type, and more able to ful­fil more of their dreams than I ever can.

This is be­cause while both my par­ents are al­ways laugh­ing, are pop­u­lar with every­body and are ready- forany­thing dare-devil types, I am a bor­ing, shy, book-read­ing per­son whose pres­ence in their midst of, not just their friends, but even my par­ents them­selves, of­ten for­get. My par­ents are not just fun com­pany, they are also in­ter­est­ing peo­ple with a wide range of in­ter­ests and knowl­edge of the world. In short, they are very spe­cial peo­ple and I am in no way fit to be their daugh­ter.

Per­haps things would have been bet­ter if I had been an out­stand­ing stu­dent or out­stand­ing in some­thing! But un­for­tu­nately, I am out­stand­ing in noth­ing!

Add to this, the fact that both my par­ents are tall, slim and beau­ti­ful while I am short, dark and rather ugly – and you have a pic­ture of the com­plete mis­fit I am in their lives. Look­ing back, I can see that I in­stinc­tively re­alised all this even when I was young and that this re­al­i­sa­tion grew on me as I grew older. The re­sult is that to­day I hate my­self and to­tally lack con­fi­dence.

And now I have messed up my life even fur­ther – if that is ac­tu­ally pos­si­ble! Some­how I have got in­volved with a man six years my se­nior. He has just com­pleted his PHD and has got a job in China of all places! He is very in­tel­li­gent but is not smart and I know that he will look a sim­ple­ton in front of my par­ents. Their friends, who I am sure al­ready won­der how my par­ents have a daugh­ter like me, are bound to gos­sip about how my poor par­ents are now sad­dled with a son-in-law who can’t even talk smartly and is go­ing to be stuck in China!

In fact, my boyfriend em­bar­rasses me so much that I have al­most de­cided to break up with him and never get mar­ried! Won’t that be the best thing for a use­less per­son like me to do? Please ad­vise.

Be­fore you think of any­thing else, you must get your­self sorted out. Your smart and at­trac­tive par­ents have ob­vi­ously given you an enor­mous com­plex right from child­hood be­cause of the kind of peo­ple they are, if for no other rea­son. As par­ents, they should how­ever have been aware of what you were go­ing through and of your com­plexes. In fact, the fact that they did not, shows a sur­pris­ing level of self-ab­sorp­tion in both of them. But more im­por­tant than analysing how things went so wrong for you and who was to blame for this, is for you to get the treat­ment that you need for your com­plexes. So ei­ther speak to your par­ents about your prob­lems or ask them for money and go and con­sult a psy­chi­a­trist or a ther­a­pist your­self – you are old enough to do so your­self or you could take your boyfriend along with you. He may not be smart, but you say that he is very in­tel­li­gent and so he has prob­a­bly al­ready un­der­stood your prob­lem. At some stage or the other, your par­ents have to en­ter the pic­ture. And the chances are that, once they do, they will come out of their pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with them­selves and deal with your prob­lem and do what needs to be done for you.

This is no time for you to think of how in­fe­rior you are to your par­ents. You are you and you de­serve the un­der­stand­ing of your par­ents. They should have given it to you right from child­hood, but they were so self­ab­sorbed that they didn’t give it to you. And now it is up to you to see that you force this from them.

And give your boyfriend a chance be­cause he may be just the man for you. And go­ing away to China for at least some time, will give you a chance to come out of the shadow cast by your par­ents.

Your par­ents have let you down from the time you were born. They were bad par­ents. None of what has hap­pened to you has been your fault and none of it proves that you were lack­ing in any way.

IAM A 60- YEAR-OLD WOMAN. MY HUS­BAND AND I HAD ONLY one child, a son, and quite nat­u­rally, we doted on him from the day he was born. So, it was but nat­u­ral that he grew up to be very spoilt. But since he was also a very good stu­dent, we put up with his spoilt na­ture, think­ing that as he grew up and got more and more in­volved in his stud­ies, he would ma­ture and his be­hav­iour would im­prove. But this did not hap­pen and he con­tin­ued to be a very in­tel­li­gent but spoilt boy who had to have his way in every­thing.

As he grew up, it soon be­came dif­fi­cult for even us, his par­ents, to deal with him. As for his class­mates, it soon be­came clear to us that he had no friends – in fact, he stopped hav­ing par­ties for his birth­day be­cause he had no friends who would ac­cept his in­vi­ta­tion to a party.

The at­ti­tude of his teach­ers also slowly changed. For a long time, they only sang his praises, but to­wards his last years in school, his class teach­ers be­gan to make com­ments like “although he is out­stand­ing in his stud­ies, he needs to im­prove his so­cial skills and make friends”.

Though our son never talked about his so­cial iso­la­tion, he grew more and more silent and en­grossed in his stud­ies. His fa­ther and I un­der­stood his prob­lem but we did not talk to him about it be­cause he was do­ing amaz­ingly well in his stud­ies – for in­stance, he topped the coun­try in his school fi­nal ex­ams – and se­condly, he was grow­ing more and more short- tem­pered and we were ner­vous of up­set­ting him.

Our son en­tered col­lege and we hoped that the freer at­mos­phere of the univer­sity would bring about a change in him. Yes, he did flower in the free­dom of the in­tel­lec­tual at­mos­phere of the univer­sity, but so­cially no change came about in him. While he soon be­came an ad­mired stu­dent and be­gan to shine as a speaker and de­bater, he made no friends and had none of the fun as­so­ci­ated with col­lege.

Just be­fore he com­pleted col­lege, my hus­band died, but the death of his fa­ther barely caused a rip­ple in my son’s life. The years passed quickly and my son went abroad to Amer­ica , got his PHD and also got an ex­cel­lent job in a top univer­sity there.

But from what his calls and let­ters con­veyed, he still had no friends and no so­cial life there. He never came back to see me ei­ther. I was very up­set about this, but I never showed him my hurt feel­ings.

And then sud­denly I got a call from my son that a friend of his would call me! I was stunned and waited im­pa­tiently for this mys­te­ri­ous call on the day my son had men­tioned. Fi­nally, an Amer­i­can woman called me. From the way she spoke it was ob­vi­ous that she was not very ed­u­cated, but as she talked to me, I re­alised that she was very much in love with my son. She told me that she had met my son some years ear­lier, that he had pro­posed to her re­cently and that she too wanted to marry him. But, she said, she would do so only if I agreed.

She then told me that she had been mar­ried twice ear­lier and that she had a men­tally re­tarded son and then asked if, in these cir­cum­stances, I would ac­cept her.

I was stunned and told her that I needed some time to think and that she should call me in a week. Now I do not know what to do. My son has not talked to me, or told me his feel­ings for this woman.

What should I do? A not- very- ed­u­cated Amer­i­can woman for my son? Will they be happy to­gether?

Your ac­count of your re­la­tion­ship with your son is full of si­lences and your present predica­ment is again full of the same. But there is one big dif­fer­ence. Your son has fallen in love with a woman and also seems to want to mend fences with you. And it is very likely that this change in him has been brought about in him by this un­likely woman.

While there is no need to go into the past, you must be aware that both your re­la­tion­ship with your son and his re­la­tion­ship with other peo­ple, has not been what can be called nor­mal. But his re­la­tion­ship with this woman and his de­sire that she talk to you and get your ac­cep­tance of his mar­riage, is a huge step in the di­rec­tion of nor­mal­is­ing both. So at once write and tell him that you liked the woman he is go­ing to marry very much and that you would like to at­tend his wed­ding if that is pos­si­ble.

Whether you at­tend his wed­ding or not, keep in touch with this woman who has changed your son’s life.

Have you a per­sonal prob­lem of any na­ture, which you hes­i­tate to dis­cuss with your fam­ily or friends? Share it with us. WE will try to help you. Ad­dress your let­ters to: WOMAN’S ERA E-3, Jhan­de­wala Es­tate, New Delhi-110 055.

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