The role of a grandparent is not to be understated, as grandparents hold a deep connection to their grandchildren that is passed down from generation to generation. Grandparents listen intently to their grandkids' ideas and provide valuable guidance for tough decisions. They create positive, special memories that the grandchildren will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.
Some people age with the desire to become a grandparent, brimming with excitement at the idea of being able to help guide another young person through the world, but unlike having direct children, that decision is not up to them...Or is it?
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The Next Generation
It's a hope for many parents that their children will one day have children of their own, granting them that golden grandparent status. Being able to play a grandparent role in a child's life is a wholesome opportunity, as is being able to watch your own child grow and flourish into a wonderful parent.
However, having kids isn't for everybody, and it's completely possible someone's kid will decide to live a childless life. A set of parents felt deeply offended by their son's choice to do jus that, and they're taking action against him.
More Than 5 Years With No Grandchildren
Sanjeev Prasad, 61, and his wife Sadhana, 57, from Uttarakhand, India, are threatening their son with a hefty lawsuit, citing "mental harassment."
They're demanding he gives them a grandchild within the year or pay 50 million rupees, or approximately $675,000 USD.
Their son, Sagar, 35, has been married for six years now and has yet to have a child with his wife. This has left his parents feeling extremely frustrated and "unlucky" as they claim that was the goal of marrying him off to begin with.
How Did They Arrive at $675K?
"We got him married in the hope we would have the pleasure of becoming grandparents," Prasad said. “It has been six years since their marriage. It feels as if despite having everything, we have nothing. We are not getting love and affection from where we want it the most. I feel very unlucky.”
Now, where did the sum of $675,000 come from? Prasad claims that's the sum of money he and his wife have spent on their son throughout his life.
The initial 25 million rupees is what they spent on him, with an additional 25 million tacked on as damages.
The bill includes the $65,000 pilot training course in the U.S. they paid for, with the parents claiming they took out a 2 million rupee loan to cover this. They also got him an $80,000 luxury car, paid for his wedding at a five-star hotel, and covered his honeymoon in Thailand.
"We want a grandson or a granddaughter within a year or compensation, because I have spent my life's earnings on my son’s education."
The Parents Ultimately Feel Their Son Is Being Inconsiderate
"We killed our dreams to raise him," they wrote in their petition regarding the suit.
"The main issue is that at this age we need a grandchild, but these people (my son and daughter-in-law) have an attitude that they don't think about us."
Though Sagar studied in the U.S., he returned to India in 2007 when he lost his job to the looming recession. "He had lost his job and could not find another for over two years. I supported him financially during this period as well," Prasad said.
Far From Home
Now he's working again, as is his wife, but the two live separately from their parents, another fact that has Prasad and Sadhana very upset. Being alone in their home has caused Sagar's parents "immense pain" and has only "added to [their] suffering."
Because Sagar's wife, Shubhangi Sinha, also works, Sagar's parents offered a solution. "We even told her that if she is worried about taking care of the child due to her job, she could give the baby to us so that we could look after his upbringing."
Still, No Dice
No matter what the two have offered, Sagar and Sinha seem to have no interest in having a child.
Arvind Kumar Srivastava, the parents' lawyer, thinks they have a case. "They have demanded the money because of mental cruelty," he told The National. “It is a dream of every parent to become a grandparent. They had been waiting for years to become grandparents. They had been trying to convince the son and his wife, but they paid no heed to their demands. They are heartbroken that they will die without seeing their grandchild.”
A Societal Split
Sagar's parents have discussed the humiliation they feel watching other grandparents interact with their grandchildren, or even seeing other parents living with their adult children, as the cultural norm in India is to take care of one's parents in your own home as they age.
It's this shame they feel that connects their son's unwillingness to give a grandchild to their 'mental cruelty,' as they feel somewhat ostracized from the society around them thanks to their son and daughter-in-law's choices.
An Uncertain Future
It's an unprecedented case, that, should the parents find success in their suit, will leave a lot of kids in a very awkward spot.
Should children be beholden to their parents' desires when it comes to something as serious and committal as having a baby? Do children owe their parents anything? Is there a moral debt they should be expected to repay in exchange for being raised?
Different people will have differing opinions, and a large part of this debate does have to do with cultural norms in different areas of the world. This lawsuit may set a new precedent should it hold any water, but that doesn't make the precedent good or healthy for plenty of young, independent people who want to focus on their own goals.
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