Empty nest syndrome and abuse

Empty nest syndrome and abuse

Chetana Vaishnavi

Chetana Vaishnavi

She has taken away my son to Ireland!’ The woman in front of me cribbed. I tried to give her solace in my small ways. I knew she was stressed and depressed. There was a feeling of grief and loneliness. She was suffering from the empty nest syndrome. She was a working woman, and felt there was no purpose left in her life. She felt that she had been rejected by her own son. I requested her to take the help of a psychiatrist. She said she had. ‘Is your son on talking terms with you?’ I asked. She nodded. ‘Then why are you grieving?’ She cried sadly, ‘In this wide world now, where is my standing?’ I said I could not understand what she meant. She looked surprised, and said the doctor, too, had told her the same thing.

Then there was this other woman who cribbed that her son got married and settled in Australia. ‘He has deceived me,’ she complained to me several times. I felt sorry for her. With children flying away to achieve their dreams, the emotionally drained elderly parents are left to fend for themselves. And many times, children do not even achieve their dreams abroad. They end up as cheap labour in restaurants, gas pumps, public toilets or become taxi drivers.

But young children do not understand that there are several advantages of remaining in a joint family. Both the elders and the children get one another’s support. The grandchildren are raised up with more love and guidance, and do not fall into bad habits and bad friendships. The presence of more members in the household helps the children to be active socially. In joint families, there is a decreased chance of kidnapping and human trafficking and plenty of support is available in times of difficulties. Financially also, joint families are better, as rents on houses can be saved and festivals can be enjoyed together.

Now the times are changing. The strong joint family system has crumbled, giving rise to weak nuclear families, because the modern generation does not want to bear the burden of the elderly. Children desire everything to be served on a platter, without working hard. They are in a hurry to inherit their parents’ properties, built with great love for their future use. Consequently, they often bring about financial pressure, enforce time constraints and create an abundance of household duties on the elders. Thus the elders are subjected to all kinds of abuse — financial, emotional, physical and mental.

My dear woman, where do you stand now in this wide world? Let me tell you — you stand in your own home and that too with dignity! Pursue your own dreams now, which you had sacrificed for them. Ireland or Australia, never mind; be brave! For an empty nest is far, far better than constantly suffering from abuse.

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