Wednesday, 19 March 2014

On being a child and on getting married

AKA Why parents should NOT tell their kids to get married. And other things.

Being a child is hard. Child as in, being someone's child. You have a lot more responsibilities than you ever realised. People always say that it is harder being a parent, but there is no competition here. Being a child is hard, even when you are not held into unrealistic standards of filial piety, there is always this part of you that would forever perpetually seek approval from your parents.

The irony is of course these are the very people who claim to love you unconditionally, and some even go as further as saying that they know you better than you know yourself. While perhaps it is true, since most of us are in this never-ending journey of self-discovery, it is also not true at the same time because this is the journey that we have ourselves, something that our parents may not be privy to. Unless, of course we tell them, and they listen. Most of the time, they don't, or only pretend to. Because they think it is just a phase. It may very well be a phase on the grand scheme of things, and this phase is relevant for now, and that is the point.

It is easy for me to say this because I am not a parent and so therefore I have absolutely no idea when it comes to what parents feel about their children. This is absolutely right: I don't have the slightest clue, and I am not going to pretend that I do. We are all here in this planet as someone's child, and growing up with our (biological) parents or not, we are all someone's child, and we don't get to pick who our parents are. We got given these people as people who were supposed to feed us, clothe us, provide shelter and hopefully teach us some life skills in the process. These people are not professionally-qualified to do that, they are just life-qualified to do that. How cool would that be, if there is a school to be a professional parent?

Our society is rather strange that way, and I am not the first person to say this: you need a license to drive on the road but you don't need one to become a parent; all you need is an egg fertilised by a sperm.


I recently got married. The months leading up to the marriage were a very interesting experience, mainly because of my parents' pressure for me to get married. What can I say, they are old school like that. Apparently, for parents, having their children get married is such a GREAT life achievement, almost bigger than having a child itself. This one event is something they take so personally that they are so ecstatic that words can't even begin to describe this particular life achievement.

I think marriage is a very strange institution and our society places too much importance on marriage, or being married. That aside, sure, seeing your children happy is quite possibly one of the most important thing in every parent's life. All is fine and well, if they are happily married.  Or at least, if they are miserably married, they are oblivious to that fact, or ignorant of their own ability to enjoy marriage in a more... happy way.

There is this implicit assumption that the act of marriage will guarantee a lifetime of happiness, you know, the happily ever after and all that stuff. Because every story has to end this way, right. I know because Disney told me so whilst I was growing up, and Hollywood tells me so whenever I see a movie. Besides, there is nothing wrong with aspiring to a happy ending, right? It makes the suffering leading up to the grand finale more bearable.

I am all in for hard work, effort, and all of that jazz to make yourself happy. I do not believe that marriage is an end goal for the individuals involved in the said marriage, in fact, it is only the beginning of an on-going commitment to work on making it work. Marriage alone does not and will not guarantee you happiness. Marriage with the right person may result in that. Thus I personally believe that instead of pressuring their children to get married, parents are better off trying to increase the chances of your children marrying the right people, perhaps by giving them time to decide on their own.

Or in short, giving them some space.

God forbid of course that there are children out there who succumb to their parents' pressure for them to get married. Yes, there are, and there are plenty - that's what arranged marriages are. If these marriage work, in my opinion, that is because the two individuals who are stuck with the arrangements have decided to make the best of it, and therefore make it work. It does not only mean that their parents have chosen well; choosing well is only the beginning.

Besides, if it is true that parents regard their children's marriage as their life achievement, then it is only fitting that they take their children's failures in marriage as their life failures too. Especially if the reason that their children get married quickly is to keep them happy. It is only fair, no? You can't just cherry-pick the good ones whilst discounting the bad.

Of course parents will never say that their children's marital failures are their fault. I am yet to come across any parent who would take responsibility in the role that they play in their children's marriages, even when if it weren't for them, their children would not have gotten married in the first place. They just conveniently forget that it is at least partially their fault that their children were such in a rush to marry, and in the process, married the wrong people. Somehow, in their own twisted minds, parents just expect their children to just know that the persons they were about to marry were the right persons. And in the after math of the disintegration of the union, the parents response would be: why did you marry him/her if you didn't think he/she was the one?

Because you rushed me into it. Do you have amnesia?

Marriage is such a personal decision. It is an event that is celebrated because it is a big decision and your ability to make that decision is worth celebrating.This decision is yours to make, you and you alone can decide for yourself whether this is really what you want.

And if you don't want it, at least you can be honest with yourself. 

This story is too good not to share, and has been sitting in draft for months, enduring edits after edits and does not resemble what it was in its first draft. You can tell me your thoughts via Twitter (@drbelles). For other lighter stuff, head over to my other blog. Or for happy snaps, visit my instagram!

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