Having moved back home last year, adjusting to living with with my folks has been a journey more difficult than I had imagined. While I’m sure some of my experiences will resonate with adults living with parents across the globe, some experiences are unique to brown families. With globalization bringing all the cultures of the world closer – I do feel like we’ve all picked up on attributes from other cultures. Here are some attributes unique to brown families –
- Adult children usually live with their folks – I still remember Oprah expressing her shock when Aishwarya Rai mentioned this fact on her show but our culture has been one which celebrated joint families and large families. In olden days, parents, their kids, their grandkids all shared space in the same house – sharing good and bad times together. It also made sense money wise, since you’d save on rent and split utilities and groceries. While nuclear families are more popular these days, I’d still say that 75% of adult children in India live with their folks.
- The concept of ‘privacy’ doesn’t exist – Your business is the entire family’s business. Who you talk to on the phone, who you hang out with, who you date, who your colleagues are, who your cab driver was on a random day – your family will want to know it ALL! After not having to explain where I was heading to each time I left home to now having to give exact details of WHO I am meeting, WHERE I am meeting them, WHAT time I’d be back – it’s been exhausting to say the least.
- Shutting your room door is a CRIME – I used to think that this was a my family thing but after having discussed with A LOT of friends, it turns out that this is a pretty common occurrence in brown families. If you live with your folks and shut your door – you will have to answer so many questions about why you are shutting your room door and more often, they will keep coming and opening your door and leaving it open to make their view on shutting the door known.
- While you are growing up, dating is a NO-NO, once you are at the marriageable age, they will taunt you for not dating – Till I was 27-28 years old, my parents would just be so suspicious of all my guy friends and make it known that at no cost was I to be ‘dating’ anyone or be seen alone with any guy (ok, I’m exaggerating) but thereafter, they have taunted me SO many times for not having found someone. The hypocrisy!!!! Now every time I go meet a guy friend – my mum will ask me hopefully – are you dating him? *EYE ROLL*
- Hoarding and finding it difficult to give things away – There is a drawer filled with wires whose function my parents don’t know but they aren’t ready to give/throw them out either. Most brown families are hoarders – if they buy a new appliance, they’ll still keep the old just incase the new one breaks down. We first visited IKEA way back in 2006 and my mum bought a bunch of stuff then that she still hasn’t used but refuses to give away too.
- Having a cabinet in the kitchen filled with takeaway containers – In continuation with point no.5, you will always find a cabinet in every brown household filled with washed and cleaned takeout containers. Brown families are huge fans of sending food over to friends and relatives and find it useful to reuse takeout containers. (Who knew brown mothers were sustainable in their own ways, reusing things multiples times before discarding?)
- They find it extremely difficult to understand mental health issues – In most brown families, the main thing they teach you is to power through anything that happens or comes your way. . Though with passing time, I have seen that a lot of brown families are slowly understanding mental health issues, my own included.
- Comparisons – There is a running gag amongst brown kids about ‘Sharma Ji’s son’. To understand that joke better – brown parents always compare their own kid’s success with those of their friends, family and neighbours. So if you got an A on an exam, you’d come home to hear your mum say “Sharma Ji’s son got an A+ why did you only get an A”? (Sharma is a fairly common last name in India) This goes on well into your adult life!
When I started writing this blog, I had 2-3 points in my mind but as I write it I realize there are SO many aspects of brown families that are unique and hilarious. What are some unique aspects of families from your culture? Do you relate with any of these points? Share and enlighten us all! 🙂
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