For the modern day in-laws, a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law are people they can hang out with. They are people who mirror the mindsets, aspirations and values of their own children.
The new-age parents have been quick to realize that these new additions to their family are people with strong minds and opinions, just like their own children. And these youngsters are not scared about voicing their opinions or following their minds.
By Nazarul Islam
Here is a common everyday scenario we may come across at the city’s popular malls. Two women are giggling over a pair of bright orange stilettos. The younger one in her mid-20s urges the older one in her late 40s to try it out. Two men, one in his early 50s and the other in his late 20s, are chilling out, drinking soda at a club on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Let’s welcome the era of the modern day, parents and the in-laws.
Pretty Hip, cool, and trendy – Perhaps the two women you bumped into at the mall were a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law shopping for a theme party and the two men you saw were a father-in-law and son-in-law bonding over cool beverages and barbecue. Sometimes, the drinks could be hard…you may never know!
For the modern day in-laws, a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law are people they can hang out with. They are people who mirror the mindsets, aspirations and values of their own children. The new-age parents have been quick to realize that these new additions to their family are people with strong minds and opinions, just like their own children. And these youngsters are not scared about voicing their opinions or following their minds. That’s one of the reasons that the approach of the trendy parents-in-law towards the youngsters has changed through the years in every sphere: be it their choice of clothes, careers, friends or hobbies.
It’s not unusual nowadays to hear a mother-in-law gushing over their daughter-in-law’s or son-in-law’s professional achievements or hobbies or trying to bond with them in ways that were unheard of in earlier days.
“Today’s parents have learnt and understood that their offspring have a greater knowledge of themselves, who they are and what they want from life,” says parent and children counselor who wishes to remain anonymous. Their equation with the growing adult child is one of a friend, a guide and a support. Obviously, there is lesser preaching from parents and in-laws, than before.
The very idea of what marriage constitutes has gone through a sea change. The new-age parents and in-laws understand that this generation seeks equality in marriage and seeks space in life. Parents know that their children and their respective spouses have a solid sense of who they are and what they want in a marriage.
Echoing this sentiment, my teacher friend Dolly M says she had realized a long time ago, that wisdom lay in allowing her daughter-in-law’s choice of career even though it entailed her working many late nights. “My daughter-in-law is an emcee,” says Dolly. Though I wasn’t happy with my daughter-in-law’s emceeing (whatever that May connote) at parties, I didn’t want to get in the way of her dreams. To keep family peace intact and to keep her happy, I accepted her choice.”
Today, it’s quite normal to see a mother-in-law shopping and lunching with her daughter-in-law or discussing the merits of a BB cream versus an anti-ageing cream. They join each other for yoga classes and even visit tattoo artists to get inked together. One would also not be surprised if one were to see a father-in-law swimming, cycling or playing snooker or going to the gym, with his son-in-law.
Today, the daughters-in-law and the sons-in-law of the house no longer have the stiff distance or the formality of earlier days. They behave informally and the relationships with their in-laws echo the tones of their relationships with their parents.
This changing mindset has been simmering for quite some time. Parents have been indulging in joint activities with their children to spend as much time as possible with them, to understand them better and to bond with them. It’s no wonder then that these activities now extend to the spouses of their children. Parents today, do show leniency when it comes to accepting their children’s choices of careers, lifestyles and life partners.
For parents whose children haven’t gone down the love marriage route, they join in to scout around for suitable matches only when they receive the green signal from their children. The marriage search has been tweaked and adjusted to suit their children’s tastes and sensibilities. The children steer the search in their chosen direction. While on the hunt for brides and grooms, parents keep their children’s demands in mind. Yesterday’s C for caste or sect—has now become the C for compatibility, the gotra has given way to wavelength and the horoscope has given way to hobbies and similar interests.
It won’t be unusual if you see a mother join her daughter or son to scroll through the profiles of prospective brides and grooms on various matrimonial sites. They will then discuss the pros and cons of their professions or family backgrounds. The parents are now aware that their children will not be content with a typical arranged marriage scenario.
The very fact that they educated their children to think for themselves, encouraged them in their choice of professions and supported their hobbies and interests makes the son or daughter headstrong when it comes to going along with their own choice.
Al S, a NPR broadcaster and a Facebook friend believes that in our subcontinent parents will now be cool with their choice of spouse “as long as they are convinced that he will provide a secure life for me and has a decent family background.” On being asked whether she would go along with an arranged marriage, she says with conviction that “they will never force me to go with their choice.”
Even in today’s arranged marriage routes, the children would prefer to meet the arranged match either in a coffee shop or in a common friend’s place minus the inquisitive eyes of the elders. The meeting can last anywhere from half an hour to several hours or there may be several meetings and everything is discussed from past relationships and lifestyle goals to career objectives.
The boy or girl concerned can also decide to keep in touch for some time before they make a final decision.
Again, modern day parents have also changed tactics. They know that the traditional route won’t work for their children. They use every opportunity, event and occasion to set up their children with suitable matches. Parents push children into community functions to accidentally bump into suitable boys or girls and ask them to accompany parents to weddings and other social events to increase the chances of meeting suitable matches.
The parents also put up their profiles on various matrimonial sites and singles networks. Most modern parents are quite tech-savvy, so they upload their children’s profiles on various matrimonial sites to widen their search and log in regularly to check the expressions of interest that the profile has attracted.
“The parenting style has changed through time and a parent today gives space and makes the child feel important,” says Dolly M who has first-hand experience with counselling parents on several issues. “The size of today’s family gives a view about the attention and care that each individual child gets. Today’s parents value and regard their children’s needs.
“Parents no longer use power trips on children. They want more and more to be caring and loving parents and are happy to meet the offspring’s wants and needs.”
Earlier, the parents used to deliver the verdict. Those tables have now turned. They now need their children’s permission to hunt around for a spouse for them. And parents have to conduct the search under the terms and conditions decided by their children.
More than anything, today’s parents and in-laws are very concerned about their children’s happiness and are prepared to go to any lengths to make things happen the way their children want it.
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