The odd relationships some people have with their parents
Your Children are not Your Children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.~ Gibran Khalil Gibran
How many times have we heard about Jordanians wanting to do things, but can’t because their parents don’t approve? How many students were forced into certain majors for their parents? How many marriage deals took place for the parents? How many companies were run for the parents? How many relationships were broken for the parents? How many… how many… how many…?
I guess I was inspired to write this post after a conversation I had with two young people, who came to visit me a few days ago …. L.’s parents’ iron grips drive her to the brinks of madness and depression.
“I want to kill my father” said M. crying “This way we all can have some peace”
To these comments Y. answered “I won’t kill my dad, but I know that I will start living only after my father dies!”
Y is a young man whose life is defined by his mixed feelings towards his father. Fear, hatred, respect are all entangled together in an odd mixture. Y. Feels that his father is his jailer and that he can be free only when his father dies.
The intensity of anger in that room took my breath away… I thought how terrible it must be for people to wait for their parents (people they love) to die in order to start living, and how terrible for the parents to realize that.
The thing is I see these kind of feelings almost on daily basis these days.
I grew up watching my father taking care of his family. He is one classic example of a man who lived his entire life based on the expectations of his family. It saddens me to see how hard he tried to break this cycle with us. My mom has always been better at it. One random example: I don’t remember a time when she took part in any admin, university or a government related issue (register at the university, renew passport, and ask for education related issue…) she always said that we should handle these things alone. While this was annoying for me at the age of 19, my mom can never imagine my gratitude (today) for being hands off.
This brings me to my next observation:
Jordanian parents are too hands on; they don’t trust their children to breath alone!
In my current job, we are in the process of collecting applications for a scholarship. It always surprises me when parents come to ask about the scholarship, It surprises me even more when they come to hand in the applications. They act as if the scholarship is for them… I barely hear the applicant’s voice! I won’t be surprise if they fill it out themselves.
Yesterday, a mother showed up with the application. Half of the required documents were missing, I tried to explain to her that each supporting document has a score and the fact that the application is missing all these documents means the daughter will have a low score, consequently might not be in a fair competition with the other applicants.
Oh boy, how I wished I kept my mouth shut.
The lady was one of those mean, cynical types. She sat down and wanted to understand. I tried to explain that it is better for her daughter to come and understand… but she would not listen. She started shouting or what we say in Arabic (tirda7)
The daughter is home, what is the value of her coming when the mother can take care of that? The mother needs to understand, the daughter can understand later…
“In all cases my daughter does not know what is best for her most of the time!”
I found myself in a situation where I am explaining the concept of a personal statement that reflects the daughter’s sense of initiative and leadership skills… man, the word leadership rubbed her the wrong way… she went into an abusive monologue on how this whole process is a load of crap… leadership? Initiative? What kind of leadership are we talking about? Do we want her to lead an army?! … She then left without wanting to hear the rest… Her grand exit was accompanied with some rude demeaning comment.
I should say, I made a decision on the spot, I am not talking to any other parents… Parents will need to shut up and wait outside.
One last word, God bless Gibran, he was open minded for his time!