Being a Parent with Your Parents

Abhishek Lahoti
3 min readJan 12, 2024

The holiday season, having just passed, always leaves room for reflection. This year I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks off, some here in London and some with my family in the US. This particular trip to the US was special as it was the first time in 3 years we’d be returning to Ohio, where I grew up.

I noticed the unique experience I was having. Suddenly I was a parent in the same space where I was once a kid. Showing my daughter around my childhood home and letting her hold my high school varsity letter whilst staring confusedly at a photo from my teens was a great memory. My parents did a wonderful job hosting us in their home, though we quickly fell into an old yet familiar dynamic.

I’m very lucky to have both of my parents around and capable of actively playing with their grandchildren. Seeing my mom involving my daughter in her morning prayers or my dad sneakily sharing food was adorable. Though, hilariously, we lapsed into the routine of also being children in that home. Though I’m an increasingly grey-haired adult living in another country, something about our environment rewound my brain.

What is it about being a parent that makes it impossible to see your child as an adult? What about the effort of raising a person masks the inevitable result? And how is the trope of a grandparent who “knows better” so pervasive? When we were younger, the phrase we’d hear was “in my day”, and now that I’m a parent, we’ve replaced it with, “when you were a kid.”

As the holiday carried on, I realised this societal quagmire takes many forms. The best example could be the millennial vs. boomer vs. Gen Z divide that dominates so many click-baity titles. But as I got comfortable in my subordinate position, I noticed how my daughter interacted with her grandparents and how many questions I asked them based on her behaviour.

I saw the opportunity to for all of us learn a lot from my parents in their most comfortable environment. I bugged them for various stories about our youth and how they dealt with us as small humans (apparently we were no trouble until our teenage years but with 4 kids I find that hard to believe). I saw their enjoyment of our visit increase as they suddenly felt even more valued, now in the role of guru as well as grandparent.

So, as I get my 2024 starts, with a fresh mind focusing on the fascinating professional landscape ahead, I am forced to draw a corollary. Often, especially in the workplace, we find ourselves in a cross-generational interaction. Whether that be actual generations of age, or someone who used to be in the role you occupy, or a joining a new team created by a someone who did a wonderful job pioneering.

It can feel odd to try to do someone else’s job as well as or better than they were doing it. It feel like you’re playing a cover of a song in front of the original singer. But, stop for a moment and remember how much tumult they must’ve experienced (and probably blocked from immediate memory). Settling into that “learning” position doesn’t relinquish control, but allows someone to act as an advisor to make the road ahead smoother. Most of the time we feel trepidation when we ask too many questions…but don’t stop to think how endearing it is to be sought for advice.

I am sometimes shocked at the unlimited font of wisdom my parents command. I could probably write an entire series entirely on their experiences, moving from India to the US and raising four children in small-town Ohio all whilst opening businesses and succeeding as professionals (all in a non-native language). I know it may reduce me to purely a child at that point, but maybe it’ll help my daughter learn how to gather knowledge from all avenues as she traverses her world.

--

--

Abhishek Lahoti

Head of Platform @ Highland Europe, advisor of startups, new father, and perpetual confused person trying to make sense of life