My sister and her 21-year-old daughter don’t get along at all. She refuses to be serious about her studies. She is also part of a rock band, plays the keyboard and sings. This band has had some success in the college fests. But as my sister says (and I agree), she cannot be on stage all her life. She can continue with her music, but she needs to have a career, earn, and learn to support herself. My sister and brother-in-law have been fairly lenient with her earlier, but in the current scenario, all they seem to do is have verbal fights all the time.
Recently my sister lost her cool when my niece flunked in her second year commerce exam, and stopped her from going out with friends. My niece said, in that case, she will get her friends home. My sister feels that it is because of these friends that she has flunked and that she needs to do is cut off all ties with them. She even threatened her daughter that she will install a CCTV to check on her. I think all this needs to stop. They are all really nice people actually and I really want to assist in whatever way I can. Is there anything I can do? Please help.
A clash of egos is what these kind of issues gradually degenerate into. Your sister is of the firm opinion that your niece should excel in studies, as she feels that will be her passport to ‘success’. Your niece is equally determined to follow her own path to what she thinks will bring her ‘happiness’ and ‘freedom’.
It seems that all avenues of discussion have broken down.
Here is where you can come in. I assume both parties would be willing to take your advice due to the current impasse. You would need to have separate sessions with them to understand their respective points of view, before having a joint meeting. This would avoid an explosive situation. Also, you would be able to mediate better, as that is a role you are keen to take up.
Your niece can engage in her musical pursuits and continue with her studies at the same time. If she is proficient in both, she will have one of them as a back-up. If your niece is really good, and has destiny on her side, she might just be a success in the music world and earn enough to support herself and make the family proud.
Going by her rebellious attitude, your niece has obviously taken her parents for granted, which could also be a result of their earlier ‘leniency’, which somehow is a recurrent theme in most middle class families today. You would do well to highlight the same in your advice to her, ensuring that she realises that her parents have her best interests at heart. But a word of caution – in spite of your good intentions, do not overreach yourself as a peacemaker. Ultimately the main characters in this drama have to take responsibility of their respective lives.
(The writer is an image consultant and corporate trainer. If you have queries for him, send them to email@example.com)