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Let’s Stop Glorifying Toxic ‘Family Values’ That Destroy The Happiness Of Our Children!

Indian parents often decide everything for their children, including what they should wear, their job, and their partner, since they "know better”. This is toxic parenting and must stop.

Why are toxic relationships glamorized in films and, hence, in our real lives? On the occasion of ‘Children’s Day 2022’ in India, I want to speak of one recent film of this kind.

A Tamil film Don was released in May2022, when I watched it in theatres. While the plot, especially the second half, was moving and made me feel emotional, it left me with several questions. Let me explain why.

A child forced to take up a career of his father’s choice

The plot is mainly about university life and a boy (Chakravarthy, whose older version is played by Sivakarthikeyan) who does not know about his ambitions, like every other college student. His father forces him to join an engineering college. He, however, has no interest and attends classes just for the sake of it. His father is stone-hearted, focused on Chakravarthy’s mark sheet, and even shaves his head once because he failed exams. The father publicly shames and slaps his son because he loves a girl in his school.

Chakravarthy fakes his university marks and ends up a happy-go-lucky person at university while acting nerdy in front of his father. He finds his passion in movies and wants to be a director. After he shoots a short film to enter a competition, his father burns his laptop, not ‘allowing’ him to do so.

This is just emotional manipulation

In the second half, the father dies without seeing his son become an engineer. At this point, the storyline tells us how much the father had “cared” for his son, and how he “suppressed” his love for the child not to end up spoilt.

His mother explains, or should I say, ’emotionally manipulates’ the son by telling him how sad the father was after he scolds his son. And how he has been concerned but expressed it in a different (toxic!) way.

The story shows the son ‘understanding’ this and trying to complete his arrears and pass the engineering course like his father wanted to. This story about his father was what the hero submitted to the short film competition, where he ultimately won.

The takeaway from this movie is ‘cherish your parents’. It is how they show a ‘happy ending’.

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Why are we promoting this toxic behaviour?!

In my mind, all that has been going on is, why are we promoting and excusing toxic behavior? If you are a parent, are you allowed to do anything and everything you want? Just because you are ‘worried’? How much ‘parental love’ is too much? And why aren’t boundaries taught and enforced from childhood in Indian families?

A parent’s shortcomings, such as manipulating or verbally abusing their kids, may leave a lasting impression on them. Even if a parent does destructive and traumatic things out of ‘love’, they still impact the child’s life. It is no excuse to treat a kid poorly.

Parents should stop dumping their expectations on their kids. They have lived most of their lives, and they should let youngsters live their lives.

This trauma sets up a chain of toxic behaviour generation to generation

The children experience trauma and grief from their parents’ acts, words, and attitudes as they grow up, leaving them with emotional scars. The affected people won’t enjoy their childhood as much since meaningful elements are missing. And this will eventually have a negative impact that continues into their adult lives.

Experts would classify the ‘parenting’ that Indian parents and elders do as oppressive and controlling. In our culture, we expect that teens and youngsters must respect older people and refrain from challenging their beliefs, especially when they are against their expectations.

And this then extends to expectations from women. Even when it means returning to toxic spouses and families, we force women to put their lives on hold to provide endless support. Love marriage? Divorce because he is a narcissist? Don’t want to have kids? What will people and society say?

This isn’t acceptable!

Indian parents decide everything, including what their children should wear, their job, and their partner. Since they “know better” and they are family. If all you have ever learnt is being used as a pawn and degraded for ‘your own benefit’, it may be overwhelming to imagine a setting that is not typical in a relationship.

But aren’t our families meant to cherish us, be there for us, and support us at all times?

Children have an innate understanding of what it feels like to burst with life and vigor. And to appreciate everything that life has to offer. Children learn from what they observe and listen to, so let them know that we value them and consider them our treasures!

Author’s note: My intention is not to point fingers to all parents – there certainly are many caring and supporting Indian parents. 

Image source: IMDb / a still from the Tamil film Don

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About the Author

Megna Rajagopal

Megna is an aspiring writer trying to make it in this world. read more...

18 Posts | 4,987 Views

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