Parent Child Relationship - An Alternative View

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hello everyone!

Last Night [Sunday, 9th of March, 2009], we had a heated discussion on relationships - Man & Woman and Parent & Child.

It was such an involving discussion that our dear friend chose to follow up with an email which is probably worth sharing with all of you. So here is the email reproduced for you - It is highly debatable, so don't feel shy expressing your views.
Parent Child Relationship - An Alternative View of the Movie called Life

For those who were not present yesterday, this pertains to our discussion on the parent-child relationship

My primary argument was that this relationship, far from being selfless, is just a manifestation of need breeding institution for its own subsistence. It evolved among the hunter gatherers circa 7500B.C (and before). The children were seen as a source of support when the parents grew old and incapable of hunting. In the hindsight, I realized that the life expectancy during that period could not have been more than 30 years. At the age of 30 most people could hunt and therefore the above theory is ruled out.

A dawkinian approach (Richard Dawkins of "The Selfish Gene" fame) comes to rescue here. He explains that at some point of time during human evolution mutation led to formation of a gene which fostered the feeling of "selfless love" towards the children. Most certainly, together with it also grew its complimentary or the "egoist" gene. The "egoist" gene would leave the parents devoid of any "affection or urge" to raise their children. An extreme version of the gene was one which urged parents to consume their own children. Clearly, such a gene was self destructive (since there would be no children of parents having this gene) and failed to evolve. On the contrary the "altruistic gene" evolved, grew leaps and bound and was the fit one and hence survived. It is precisely for this reason that the "egoist" gene which made the parents indifferent towards their children was not as fit as our "altruistic gene". The same or a similar gene is also present among every surviving species today.

To conclude, I do not have an argument to rule out love, altruism and selflessness among humans. However, I do not see any convincing reason to believe in the existence of such over glorified metaphors of that totalitarian and malfunctioning institution called the society.

[The Guest Author]

P.S: For all the believers in emotions and their cosmic (or divine) origin, "The Selfish Gene" is a must read.

The author is an accomplished techie and thinker. He works at a strategic position for a US based Hedge Fund.

Someone responded to this, which may very well add up:

I feel that parents feel for there children the same way I feel for my laptop.
- I saw others having fun with their laptops; 
- had nothing better to do and a laptop seemed to be a great addition to my empty life;
- pulled together all the mney that I could by beg/borrow/steal funda;
- bought one and thought it was the best I could ever manage;
- wiped the lid every time somebody else touched it;
- spent endless hours formating it; installed the best softwares that I could support on the RAM to make it look cool; max movies and songs to give it the arty-farty look.
- the gleam in others eyes on seeing 'MY' laptop was the reward;
- but when it hung up (of course it had to sometimes, thanks to microsoft and my own handling of it) I felt dejected, hurt and betrayed;
- re installed the OS and continued to monitor it; again with the hope that it always performs to my whims;
- finally realised that it is just a machine and that it does not care for me.

shayad har relationship ka yahi funda hai...


SK said...

With due apologies to the author, I don't quite agree with your view on ur love for ur laptop being similar to a parent's love for his child. You could say it isn't as selfless as we assume it to be, it is certainly something that arises out of a need like anything else. All relationships are need based and so is this one, but the underlying need here is a little different.

Our relationships with our friends, beloveds or spouses usually arise outta our social, mental, physical, emotional, or even financial needs at times.

Same is the case with the child who maintains a very good relation with his parents till he is dependent on them for one or more of these needs. Once he grows up, has finances of his own, his spouse & friends fill up the desired social, emotional & physical gaps, he hardly needs anything from them.

However, there's one more need (besides the physical one) that is perhaps more age specific. The need for satisfaction that arises outta pampering, taking care of sumone & knowing that someone depends on you. This need is fulfilled for parents by their children only. Parents wud still love their children despite all bugs, spyware, corrupt disks & even system crashes !!! They'd never say...... "It's time for a new and better one. Lets throw off this one !"

Anonymous said...

I do not know the specifics of evolution/genetics/psychology etc but I feel that being together for a long period of time could be one of the reasons. We do have similar attachments with people who we have spent large parts of our lives with (especially during childhood such as neighbors, other relatives, friends).

There must be some research on the kinds of bonds between biological parent-children versus foster parent-children. This should give us some indication as to where the love comes from.

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