5 Types of Brown Parents and How to Deal
All parents love unconditionally, but the way they show it can be different. South Asian parents in particular are some of the most loving parents out there. Many of us are second generation and have parents that sacrificed everything for us. Keeping that in mind, they can also be somewhat awkward and tend to be less affectionate compared to Western standards,, making it hard for us to read their emotions. Check out our list below of archetypes that best encompass desi parents and some best practices when it comes to navigating relationships with them.
We all know these types of parents—the classic strict parents that expect you to have straight A’s, no less than 3 extracurricular activities, and have mastered at least one instrument before your 11th birthday. These parents are the ones that never stop checking your grades and tend to focus on what you aren’t accomplishing more than what you are.
Pros: These parents are very good at raising ambitious children. This parenting style is very results driven and it achieves just that—results, results, results. If your parents align with this, you are probably very hardworking and goal oriented.
Cons: This parenting style can also lead to anxiety and disappointment for many children that go through it. There is a lot of guilt if the parental goals are not met, which can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.Imposter syndrome —the feeling of not deserving one’s earned professional and academic accolades—is often a side effect of having been raised by desi tiger moms and dads .
How to deal: The best way to deal with this is to understand that the goals that your parents have do not need to be YOUR goals. Remember that your path is yours and the life that you choose to live will always be the most fulfilling. Your parents may have more lived experience than you and can be a great source of information and advice, but the road is ultimately yours.
These are the parents that hover over you because they are “curious to know what you are up to” with ample suspicion and without any good reason.These parents love to walk into your room and stare at you as they stand in the doorway, or eye you each time you venture into the kitchen to get a snack. These are also the parents that will happily buy everything you want and pay for all of your bills, but will also want to have access to you at all times. Although they mean no harm and just want to be involved, you find yourself in an awkward tug of war for control over every aspect of your life.
Pros: These parents are very loving and while their constant desire to be involved in your life may annoy you at times, it is comforting to know that they will wait up for you after 10pm and will answer your phone call on the first ring. These parents never let you lack in material things, always ensuring that you have exactly what you need. If one or both parents fall under this category, chances are that you were excited to finally leave the house for college, only to end up missing them after the first few weeks of freedom.
Cons: These parents can easily cross the line between wanting to be involved to wanting to control everything that involves you. They also tend to use gaslighting—a form of emotional abuse that manipulates the victim into questioning their own thoughts and actions— to find out as many details as they can about who you’re spending time with, what you’re doing with your money, and what classes you’re “actually” taking. Helicopter parents unknowingly raise children that are completely dependent on them. While they will ensure their kids are never lacking in the things they need, doing so often results in a lack of need for their kids to take on jobs during high school and college, stunting their development of adolescence and early adulthood independence.
How to deal: If you find that one or both of your parents fall under this category, you should communicate with them and tell them how their actions are negatively impacting you. You’ll likely find that they are unaware of how invasive they are, as they probably learned their parenting technique from their parents and assumed it was the “right way” to parent. It is also key that you work to create boundaries, which may be difficult and cause your parents to behave defensively. Nonetheless, boundaries are crucial here as they will curb your dependency on them and give you more control over your environment. Some examples of a boundary you can work to enforce is that they must knock on your door and await your response before entering, or they will support your decision to get a part time job in order to help pay for small bills and necessities around the house.
The Raichand parents are the parents that are constantly reminding you that you need to get married soon. Inspired from the blockbuster Bollywood classic, Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham, the Raichand parents are also keen to remind you that you must marry within a certain criteria or you would bring shame to the family name. Being raised by these marriage fixated parents can feel as if all of your accomplishments and milestones you have worked so hard to reach are all in vain if they don’t attract the “right” kind of spouse.
Pros: These parents encourage you to be very thoughtful when selecting a life partner. They want you to have a holistic approach when considering whether or not you want to share your life with another person.. They are also great models to learn from when wanting to understand how to maintain a strong, sustainable marriage.
Cons: The children here suffer the most. In today's world where social media and globalization makes it easier to meet people from various backgrounds, falling in love with someone from a completely different culture, religion, and social class is the norm. If they end up meeting someone that does not fit their parents’ criteria, they tend to feel like they are betraying their family’s trust. On the other hand, by listening to them, it may feel like they are betraying their happiness. Picking a side can eat the person up and be detrimental to one's mental and physical health.
How to deal: It is important to have a conversation to ask your parents to explain the reasoning behind each aspect of the criteria they have set forth for your future spouse. This conversation may reveal that your parents maintain a lot of anxiety regarding your future and having a discussion may prove helpful in relieving some of those concerns. For example, if they are insistent that you marry a doctor or lawyer, this may be their way of communicating that they worry about your ability to maintain a certain level of financial security. Walking them through your career path and financial goals could aid in helping them trust that you possess healthy personal finance habits. Of course, it is also crucial that you highlight the characteristics that you would like to find in a life partner. You should also set the understanding that you are in full right to reject any of the proposals they may bring to you. Finally, know that it is within your right to take the route of Yash Raichand and choose the person you fall in love with. Hopefully, your parents will be less stubborn than his and won’t take a decade to come around.
Keeping Up with the Patels
Keeping up with the Patels, very much like their western counterpart—keeping up with the Joneses— refers to those who refuse to be outdone by their neighbors. In this case, it acknowledges the South Asian parents who have to have the best diyas for Diwali and the most elegant clothing for Eid, if only to post the best photos on Facebook for ALL the aunties to see. These also tend to be parents who bring up the fact that your cousin is studying to be a doctor or will side-eye you when they hear about an upcoming engagement that isn’t yours.
Pros: These parents raise very competitive children who learn how to manage immense pressure early on. If you find your parents aligning under this category, you probably have the highest quality clothing and the newest iPhone. You’re always leading all the short lists when it comes to a promotion and are probably the reason the curve in your organic chemistry class was so low.
Cons: Unfortunately, these parents tend to instill in their children jealousy, low self-esteem, and immense feelings of inadequacy, oftentimes without even realizing it. When pushed too far, this can lead to overly competitive children who grow up to view the world divided into winners and losers, rather than viewing people as unique individuals who vary in strengths and weaknesses that they should be open to collaborating with. For instance, when someone gets a promotion at work, they may view it as a personal failure rather than a personal growth opportunity and a moment of celebration for their colleague.
How to Deal: To deal with this parental style, it is best to address and reinforce the positive things that you have done. An example of what this would look like could be, It’s great that Rishi is getting engaged, I’m so excited for him. I’m also excited about a presentation I’m doing on Monday, do you want to hear more about it? This will help serve as a reminder that although other people are reaching milestones in their lives, so are you and you want to show that to you parents. Which they will appreciate! Of course, you are in every right to reject the notion that everything in life is a competition and work at your own pace.
These are the parents who have trouble showing emotion and are the ones who never say the words I’m sorry after an argument. Instead, they bring you a plate of your favorite fruit, change the oil in your car, or may even just tell you that dinner is getting cold without you. Whether it’s their ego or their inability to put the words together to form a verbal apology, these parents are willing to acknowledge that they have hurt you and are looking to make a peace offering.
Pros: These parents are the most self-aware and make an effort to validate the feelings of their loved ones. Their love is the most tangible compared to many of the other desi parenting styles. These parents are the most likely to be sentimental with their affection towards you.
Cons: These parents are probably some of the most stubborn under the desi umbrella, primarily because they are sensitive to the fact that they cannot verbally apologize. Continuing the conversation is often difficult, if not impossible, given that they tend to feel that once they do something kind post-argument, the issue has been rectified. This can potentially lead to their kids being ineffective when it comes to conflict resolution.
How to Deal: The best way to deal with this is to acknowledge the peace offerings brought by your parents , while also bringing up the conflict at hand, taking the time to readdress any unresolved concerns. An example of this could look something like this: thanks for bringing the mangoes, Ammu, but I’m still feeling kind of upset over our conversation earlier. Do you think we can talk about it while we eat these together? This will show your parents that you are willing to verbally discuss issues and will foster communication around your household.