Even before she could learn to possess, she was asked to share. When she was barely five, she was asked to make sacrifices for the sake of her brother who was just two. She was still a kid, but her parents expected her to play the role of a responsible older sister. Thirty years later, she has a family of her own; so does her brother. She still feels responsible for her younger brother. She still advices him… interferes whenever there are ripples in her brother’s marriage, advices her brother’s wife on what to feed the child, and how to parent the child. She is still making sacrifices, but what is she getting in return?
Heartaches, sleepless nights and copious tears over being treated with indifference. Why? Her brother is old enough to make his own decisions. Even if some of his decisions go wrong, he feels he has the right to make those mistakes; he feels they are his learning ground. The sister-in-law regards her as unwanted interference in her marriage. She believes she should have the freedom to parent her children the way she wants and detests the idea of others interfering under the guise of being older to her.
From the first word uttered to the first word written to the first steps he walked… the father played an active part in it. For the son, his dad was always a superman, a hero and the only role model he wanted to emulate. Even the son’s career counselling was done by Dad. The son went on to become a first-generation entrepreneur and again it was his dad who guided him. Today, the son is a celebrated industrialist. Even today, the Dad waits up every evening to know what happened at work, but the son feels claustrophobic. He feels that his dad should give him more space. Dad is going through spells of depression because he’s not getting the same attention he used to get from his son. Dad feels that he’s not needed anymore. The effect of this is showing up on his health – he is beginning to age a little faster.
You can always be a sister, but you cannot always play the sister. You will always be loved as a parent, but you cannot always play the parent. Beyond a point, not everybody can accept a ‘holier-than-thou’ approach.
A three-year-old expects to be respected in a certain way and the three-year-old needs to be respected that way. At three, not being given the choice of clothes she wants to wear is interpreted by her as not being respected. At ten, the son wants to read the menu card by himself and place the order. That to him is his idea of being respected. As a teenager, she wants to choose her friends; and her parents respecting her choice of friends is her sense of being respected. Now that he has worked with you for a few years, he wants to take a few decisions by himself, and your not overruling his decisions is his sense of being respected. Every age and every phase of life has some sense of respect associated with it, and you need to respect that.
Though the intentions may be noble, sometimes our attempt to guide people, especially unasked for, makes them feel not respected. The need to be respected is far greater than the need to be guided.
Make others feel respected… let this be your choice.
They will take your guidance… let this be their choice.
To live is to live fearlessly.
When you have nothing to hide,
you have nothing to avoid.
True freedom is found
only in transparent living.
The greatest compliment
one can give oneself
is to declare,
“I am an open book.”