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When a boy begins to see himself as an adult, it’s likely that he will have clashes with his father. It ultimately falls on the woman in between to sort the differences.
A woman plays several roles in her life. She is a daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, friend, so on and so forth. Every role comes with its own set of challenges and issues. However, there are some roles and stages of life are more challenging than others.
I believe these challenges make a woman stronger and resilient. She learns to deal with such situations to the best of her ability. It’s never easy. Sometimes, it can be very tricky. It can drain her, but eventually, she will rise above.
I have often observed that most of these roles are not too difficult to play, as long as they are played in isolation. The moment two or more of these are clubbed together, it becomes confusing and distressing.
When the son grows up, considers himself to be an adult, and begins to think for himself, he often forms disagreements with his father. Conflicts arise. In such cases, the woman has to play the role of a mother as well as a wife. And, she has to ‘take care’ of the situation without ‘displeasing’ the husband or the son.
Is this fair on her? No. Does it happen in real life? Yes. So here’s what I think is the best way to go about it.
It is tricky to deal with this phase of growing up for both parents. Yet, the father finds it more difficult to cope with this. I believe the reason is that the father who’s so far been the alpha in the house, finds himself in a situation where he is being questioned by another man. This isn’t something he is familiar with.
He feels threatened, and cannot come to terms with it. It is perhaps even more unsettling that this challenge is coming from his own flesh and blood. It then becomes a clash between a man who is moving past his prime and the one who is moving towards it. Often, he is also the worried parent with a son who seems to be ‘doing things wrong’.
As any growing boy, the son challenges and questions everything. He isn’t prepared to accept things at face value. He cannot be forced or steamrolled into doing things. He wants to be treated as an adult. His ego, confidence, and a developing sense of self come into play.
The father, of course, is concerned about the son in the context of his future. He juggles his newly growing insecurity, fear, and anger, with the familiar need to protect his son. He doesn’t want him to make mistakes that may have far-reaching consequences.
The issue is not that he has these concerns. The issue is the way in which these concerns are expressed. The father may adopt ways that are resented by the son. The son, despite the grown-up demeanour, is still somewhere a child who isn’t able to perceive his father’s intent.
The father I feel has to take the lead in handling the situation. After all, he is older and wiser. He has to be very careful while expressing his concerns. He needs to be patient and calm.
If the son is criticized or ridiculed whenever he makes a mistake, he might clam up and not share anything. Or at some point, he might answer back which may lead to a full-scale argument. This could cause feelings to be hurt, boundaries to be crossed, all of which I feel is highly avoidable.
The father has to realize that the critical thing is to get the message across. Therefore, the tone and the manner have to be subtle. They can be firm, but never dictatorial. He has to remember, at all times, that he is not dealing with a child but with a young adult who now has views and opinions of his own. The earlier ways have to be discarded.
I have observed that anything put across as a mere suggestion has a greater probability of being accepted as compared to a direction. Yet, I also understand that it could be difficult for the father to do because he has always looked at his son as a child.
I firmly believe that women should stay out of such situations. Yet, they cannot. If the father and son were capable of resolving such conflicts, then women need not have entered the scene. And, hence, the spotlight inevitably falls on women to sort the differences between men.
The woman, who is both wife and mother, has to remain objective and calm. It isn’t an easy situation and she cannot afford to take sides, or be seen doing so. She has to ensure that her emotions don’t get the better of her in the decision making process.
So what does she do? How does she deal with this? How does she strike a balance?
I firmly believe that this is one of the most challenging things a woman has to do in her life. The underlying need, of course, is the peace and harmony in the house and the future of the family.
She needs the two men who are so dear to her to get along. She needs them to not cause stress to each other. Men want the same too. Yet, their ways might not be acceptable to each other. When they take a stand against each other, it’s difficult for the woman to handle it.
It often becomes critical for the woman to first ‘diffuse’ the situation. She has to patiently listen to both sides while clarifying that they have to adopt a reasonable attitude, and be prepared to accept each other’s point of view. They will have to let go of their egos and resolve the issue.
She will have to assess the situation and come to a conclusion impartially. The assessment has to be objective and rational. Once she arrives at her evaluation, she has to convey it. But before doing so, she has to get the two to the table. She has to be like a judge who cannot pass judgement, but can only express her opinion.
The woman has to be tactful. The situation may take time to get resolved, but she has to believe that it will get fixed eventually. She has to be bold, and filled with conviction, in order to get past this transitory phase.
The two men may be strong, but she has to be stronger.
Image source: a still from the series Anupamaa
Aside from being an educationist teaching at the university level for the last 28 years, I have been a corporate wife and a mother to two boys who have now flown the nest. I love read more...
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