Parental Expectations and the Immigration Bubble
The unnecessary angst that develops inside my head when the topic of Marriage is broached at home is due solely to my inability to discuss the concept with my parents. I find it particularly difficult to break through my mother’s unrealistic notions of how I’m going to meet someone. Her idea is very simple. Go to Homeland, get introduced to the family of the boy, then meet the boy, because soon as you hear someone’s interested, so shall your interest peak. You’ll meet the boy. The rest is history. Everything’s quite simple.
Trying to explain to my parents what I want in a man and how I would like to go about meeting one, is an area I do not feel comfortable talking to my father about, I’d talk to my mother if she could actually listen, absorb and then reflect on my ideas. Simple reason why she can’t, because it didn’t happen that way for her. Therefore our minds are all made up and that area of life has a linear equation with which I will measure everyone else’s understanding of this complicated notion.
Once I find a man with a good character/deen and want to marry him, I won’t have many problems convincing my parents. All he has to do is come home, or bring his parents to meet mine and do it all properly. Hurrah, sound the wedding bells. My problem is centered around the meeting of such an individual, and the possible consequences of said act.
I come from a family full of women. Girl cousins outweigh boy cousins by far and we are four sisters with no brothers. Don’t lament, if in fact you are, because I love the fact that the only male presence in my house is my father so when he’s not around its a humming pot of synchronised female harmonies. Its lovely. My sisters and I don’t fight nor have we ever the way a lot of girls are perceived to. We’re not petty, etc and have had to deal with some serious “real life” issues to realise what’s actually important in this world. On the flip side, our discussions/arguments are always supremely intellectual. On lookers are always amused.
I’m proud to say that I come from a good family where my father’s tenacity and mother’s tenderness have melded together to make a pretty cool person. I will never sell myself as the bride for a desi household but I do know my strengths and luckily I’m well aware (maybe too aware) of my weaknesses and am happy to work on them. My parents rely on me for emotional and other kinds of support, they tend to want to know my opinion on important matters and rely on me to make things happen. Its a position I hold dearly because in my father’s eyes, not many can be trusted with the charge of the family unit. As I grow older and the responsibility aggravates, confusion results when my father finds it difficult to hand over responsibility because I’m still a girl.
He will never take money from me and he will never ever expect or ask that I take over from him. He just can’t. I don’t resent that. What I’m trying to explain is my parents cherish my existence and if it weren’t for their patience and respect for my wishes, I would’ve been married off a long long time ago.
Now that I’ve set the scene, I’ll explain the reason for my post.
When my parents (father) decided to give us a better life by giving us the best of the West they didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. Similar to many migrating families, they moved their lives without moving their mindset. Things got complicated and life got in the way of figuring out a way to settle their children with those of like values, meaning culture. My parents are exemplary in that they decided to send their daughters for an overseas education. Who does that?
While they were busy making plans, life carried on. We grew up, got educated, got jobs and grew brains. We developed our tastes and values in a cultural landscape much different to their own. Even though the focus of many desi parents is the settlement (read marriage) of their offspring, they probably never imagined that there would be a difference of opinion between their views and that of their childrens’ when the time came to bid farewell to the nest.
Life moves really fast, especially when you’re busy making other plans. Before you know it your girls are of marriageable age, and oh so capable (not necessarily in the desi sense). So now they have to get married. The time is nigh.
And now, what do you do? Ah, crap.
“I know! Let’s send them back to the Mother Land! They’ll get proposals from out of the ether and they’re bound to say yes to at least one of them! Surely! Yup, yup, it will work. Beta, take leave off work, you’re going to Mother Land!”
If you want your kids to get married in similar cultures make sure they have a similar mind set to yours. Don’t deflect, ignore or over power arguments stemming from a belief system different to yours. Its counter productive in the long run. Its rich for a person so privileged and inexperienced to give such advice, but hey, it affects me as well. Once I’m married, I have to live with that man for the rest of my life, not for the rest of my parents’ lives.
Irrespective of the amount of mutual love and respect that exists between my parents and I, we will always come to loggerheads when having discussions on Marriage. There are things I just can not explain to them. Though I’m lucky that my dad will explain his side of things and invite suggestions from my genius on how to facilitate the situation. My mother will ask me to say yes to a taxi driver, here on questionable terms whose name we don’t actually know.
For example, no its not a good idea to go off to Mother Land and sit around waiting for the men to come. This theory frustrates the hell out of me and I don’t feel desperate enough to pack up and ship myself off in search for a husband. Caring as they may be they will never understand that my need to be married doesn’t outweigh my pride. I will not ship off on a boat to go looking for a man. FUCK THAT. He knows where I am tell him to come to me!
Push comes to shove, you’re expected to behave in the manner that fits your parents ideals. They expect you to get excited about some guy, some where, who could possibly be interested in
coming to Australia marrying you. They expect a “shy bride” routine where the girl gets giggly, embarassed and retreats to her room. Good luck with that. You instilled a strong sense of self importance in me so now deal with it!
And so the question remains. How do you bridge the gap? My one and only suggestion, actually I have two.
1) Listen to them, go to Mother Land and meet the
2) Find someone and find him quick!
Are we beginning to see why this issue frustrates me into silence?
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