Children often complain about their parents asking them too many questions. And of course, most questioning words begin with W, such as where, why, what, who, which, etc., — making W the most hated English alphabet by kids and the most controversial as well!
Where are you going? When will you be back? Who is going with you? Why are you watching television at this late hour? Why didn’t you clear up the mess in your room? Whom do you keep text messaging to? Why haven’t you started to do your homework yet? When will you start preparing for your exams? These are only some of the most common questions asked by the concerned parents. And the list goes on and on!
Youngsters usually feel offended by these queries and the replies are usually like, “You do not trust me”, “I am not a child any more”, “Why can’t I have more freedom”, “You are nagging all the time” or in worse cases, “For Heaven’s sake! Leave me alone!” or worse still “It’s my life, yaar!”
As life has promoted me from a mother to a grandmother, I often reflect at this conflict between parents and children. When I decided to talk to some of them, I got a lot of responses, but the most interesting and common feature was that all of those who gave their input wanted to remain anonymous! I take it as a positive sign and as a respect for each other’s feelings. Here I would like to share a few examples of what the two parties had to say.
A teenager who is a student of O Levels in a reputed school says, “After just a few minutes of talking on my cell phone or when I exchange a few messages with my friends, my mom starts casting questioning glances at me. And then she starts her queries, ‘Who are you on the phone with?’ and after a few minutes, ‘Why are you talking with him/her for so long’. Or, ‘Why don’t your friends call on the landline’.”
She clarifies, “I use my cell more as I like to remain mobile while I am talking to a friend. Often we are discussing a project/assignment or helping each other in problems pertaining to our studies and I need to consult a book or notes while talking. Using the landline means remaining seated on the lounge chair with distractions, as my younger siblings make a lot of noise and often the television is on!”
Her mother retaliates, “I wonder why she gets so irritated when I demand to know who she is talking to on her cell! After all the landline is more economical than the cell, and I also feel more comfortable when she is within my earshot when she is talking to friends. As a mother, I feel it is my duty to keep an eye on her activities. She is so naïve; I fear that wrong friends would harm her and also adversely affect her studies.”
Another teenager shares his woes, “The minute my mom sees me in my jeans and joggers, she showers me with questions ‘Where are you going?’, ‘When will you be back?’ and ‘Who else is going with you?’. And the query I resent the most is, ‘Why don’t you respond when I call on your cell’.
“For Heaven’s sake! I am not a child any more. I want to venture out into the world with a bit of independence. She must understand that the time to cut off the apron strings has past! My friends laugh at me when she calls after every half an hour. Her never-ending questions get on my nerves!”
His mother defends herself, “I cannot understand why he gets mad when I ask him where he is going and by what time he would be back! I feel it is my right to know about his whereabouts and the company he keeps. With the uncertainty prevailing in the city, I fear for his security and get nervous when he does not respond to my calls.”
A mother of four shares her irritation, “Why do they create so much mess when they know that I cannot stand a messy room?
When I demand to know when they will clear up the clutter, they just shrug and move away, or worse still, accuse me of nagging!”
Her 12-year-old daughter says, “Mama is a cleanliness freak! How can she expect me to study with my books packed in my bag or neatly lined up on the bookshelf?”
Her younger brother says, “I need some place to play with my toys and video games and there is bound to be some amount of untidiness when I am playing.”
Another 16-year-old says, “If I ask permission from my dad to go out for lunch with friends (dinners being strictly not allowed!), or just for window shopping to a mall, he will ask every time, ‘What is the purpose of such outings? Instead of concentrating more on your studies, why do you waste so much time and money on such useless activities’.”
His father says, “I spend so much on my children’s studies. Often I and their mother cut down on our own needs in our budget which we consider less essential. We expect our kids to be more responsible and dedicated to their studies and not waste their time hanging out with friends.”
Friends, speaking back to parents and being irritated by their never ending questions may be something you may regret later on in life. Their questions are only their way of showing how much they care for you and how concerned they are for your wellbeing! If you think with a cool head, you will realise that all these Ws are for your own good and out of love and concern for your wellbeing. So, instead of feeling that their questions are an intrusion into your privacy, or just plain nagging, try to understand what they want to convey!
Next time, when you are barged with these Ws, instead of getting annoyed, sit down with them and discuss your feelings.
Communication gaps always lead to misunderstandings!
By talking with your parents about what are their expectations from you, you can also explain your side of the picture and let them know why you react negatively! Our parents are much wiser and experienced than us! Their questions are their way to guide us on what should be our priorities in life and what things we should avoid.
In the end, I would like to quote Losivale Vaafuti, “Your parents will always lecture you, hit you, ground you, make you do chores, embarrass you, etc., but just know that they will always push you harder and harder to make you do the right thing, not to make you seem that you are a disappointment to them, but to prepare you for the reality. In other words, being successful in the future!”