Let’s get straight into the 3 concepts that desi parents don’t understand even though there are many but we’ve narrowed down to the ones that everyone’s collectively struggling with, and for multiple reasons.
Times have changed, we’re more aware, educated and have reflected on all the loopholes that have pushed us into investing into preserving our energy to focus on our mental well being and secure a happy state of mind. Now it may have taken us a decades to get where we are today, but the 3 concepts desi parents don’t understand such as; therapy, boundaries and self-care is like a mini frame work towards achieving stability in every phase of your life.
So, here’s what we think on the 3 concepts desi parents don’t understand. This account is based on our personal experiences and the things that we have learnt along the way. Feel free to share your thoughts on it.
Even though we’re not generalizing it, but let’s face it, 80% of desi parents don’t understand “therapy” and why it’s so important today. A good way to start is to see the people that we’re surrounded by, because people don’t have a filter anymore. They will cough the first thing that’s anything and everything right out of their mouths (just like the corona virus). And it literally feels like that the entire world gets to have an opinion/say on how you talk, eat, dress, look (physical beauty), feel, weigh, sit, interact, work, sleep, how you educate yourself, who you choose to be in a relationship with etc – the world practically owns you, but you, and on top of that, being on social media makes it even worse.
And I also think that while growing up, we were “conditioned” into feeling in certain ways and deal with pressures disguised in buzz words like “shame”, “opportunity”, “silence”, “oversharing”, “rebellion”, “modesty”, “you are our only hope”, “don’t disappoint us”, “judgment” etc (I mean I can go on), so it feels like being brainwashed by our desi parents with how we were brought up using these bumper stickers , which led to having living under the weight of our family’s dreams because you’re their only hope, to low self-esteem issues and failed relationships.
So, when we bring the idea of “I think I need to see a therapist”, most desi parents freak out thinking that, either it’s a fad for our gen or a major lifestyle problem that we need to correct because our parents devoted their entire lives into raising us, so having their child say “Ammi I need professional help” means “Beta, what did I do wrong in raising you? We gave you everything, so what you seek isn’t normal, to the infamous dialogue, log kia kahaingay”. And to an extent you can’t blame them (most of the times) due to lack of their personal experiences, awareness, education and deep-rooted family histories in the typical Pakistani (patriarchal) society where women weren’t (and still aren’t) allowed to have a say in any facet of their lives and were/are “forced to be grateful for what they had/have”.
The solution to counter this to have a conversation around the importance of mental health, therapy and being happy for ourselves and the generations to come. Most desi parents have spent their lives living under a rock and had to deal with their problems by internalizing them. Educating them on how a therapist can help identify behavioral patterns and help you track your life/feelings because they are experts as compared to a family figure who themselves have/had unresolved unidentified problems. So starting with calling out therapy as a taboo is a good way. And remember that no one will probably understand every decision you make when it comes to your mental well-being considering how times have changed. No one can save you but you.
Desi parents have always been way too involved in every little part of their child’s lives and most of us are accustomed to it. And while it may seem like the most selfless thing any parent can do for their child by taking care of their children, until they don’t “trust” them to make their own life choices, this “love” may soon turn into “misunderstanding” and a kind of an identity crisis for the child.
The concept of having “boundaries” or “personal space” is considered a very modern concept for most of the desi parents (minus the privileged class) that makes up just a chunk of our society. But the other half of our society that is raised by desi parents who weren’t perfect themselves because they’re only human, but they tried their best. So with time, awareness and education, we learnt to self-parent ourselves due to the emotional lapses in desi parenting so we could take care ourselves as adults. And being assertive and defining boundaries is one of them.
But the truth is that desi parents don’t care about boundaries and it’s a fact, and while it may differ from child to child where certain checks should be kept, but on the whole exposing desi parents to the concept of boundaries is new world thinking. People always say that, “you have to set boundaries to preserve your mental energy” and that’s great thing to say, but it’s practically useless if you don’t know how to set them, or even what they are or its importance with desi parents.
- We all deserve to be treated with the utmost respectt
- You can say no to your family without feeling guilty and without any remorse
- You deserve to put yourself and your needs before the needs of other people all the time
- You have a right to not adjust yourself to someone’s expectation of you just because they are your parents
Be flexible because boundaries depend on the situation and the person, so don’t feel bad for having many different types of boundaries! avoid isolation, be nice to yourself and allow yourself to figure this all out while you maintain these boundaries as it may take a while for desi parents to adjust to the new version of you.
Chronic stress means continuous self-care and if you’re not going to take care of yourself, how will you take care of others?
The concept of self-care and self-love is different but can also overlap at the same time. While self-care is more about taking care of yourself after hard days of work, with a sheet mask and a nice snack with Netflix on, you tend to focus more on things for your personal satisfaction, that would physically and mentally stimulate you. Whereas self-love is more about being in tune with your mind and body emotionally and spiritually – either way you’re being kind to your mental well being, your body and giving nourishment to your soul by doing what you want so you can thrive as an individual, partner, child and parent.
Unfortunately, desi parents don’t understand the idea of “slowing down” so you can train your thoughts in order to make mindful choices which is why we need to advocate to desi parents why self-care has never been more important than right now. Because for desi parents, family comes first before “self”, which according to desi standards means being selfish because you want to prioritize yourself over your loved ones. What needs to be shared is that, self-care is another way to boost mental and physical wellness by engaging in healthier habits instead of focusing on each day.