I used to think that being a parent is one of the most difficult roles, one can ever play. You are literally responsible for the health, wealth, happiness and attitude of young minds. Over the years, I have changed this view. I think there is one more role that is even more challenging, which most of us end up playing as we get older. That is the role of a “parent-in-law”.
Consider this – at about 50 years of your life, you are finally done with your responsibilities, you have also managed to give decent values and direction to your children, you have saved enough for your retirement, and now you think you can relax and spend the rest of the years spiritually. Looking forward to it, you happily marry your child (or children), be it a son or a daughter and start planning for your retired life. The bubble breaks when you realize that in place of handing your loved one into the care of someone else, you yourself have ended up adopting another child in your family. The bigger challenge is that this child is about 25 years old.
Nonetheless, quickly accepting reality for what it is, you park your own dream of retirement for a while, and welcome this addition in your family. You shower them with all that you have – love, care, space. In return, you wish that this child will carry forward your family legacy, follow your values and support you in your time of need. But alas, you realize, that this child is significantly different from your own children and at the same time not so open to change. Even though, you love them as your own child, you cannot be as open to them as you are to your own children. You see them making mistakes, getting hurt but cannot offer open advice as it might be misinterpreted. Differences in culture, values and attitudes adds up even more complexity and spice.
Imagine, how painful it must be. At an age, where all you wanted was to be free from stress and responsibilities, you end up adding to those, because you have one more rebellious, and stubborn child that you are now responsible for.
Though I have never experienced this pain myself, I know I have caused enough of it. My heart now goes out to all parents playing the role of a parent-in-law. I salute your perseverance and maturity. I pray that one day when I step in your shoes, I remember your ways and try and follow them for my adopted children. Amen!