I will be 21 when I finish my education. When I turn 23, my parents will arrange a marriage for me. I know this is three years away, but it has eaten at me since I was 15.
I do not agree with the idea of arranged marriage. I have never believed in it.
My parents threaten to disown me completely if I do not abide by their wishes. My mom’s exact words were, “I will never talk to you again, and neither will your father or your brother.” They have never let me be in a relationship either, for fear I will get pregnant or tarnish their name in our society.
I am fine with getting disowned. I have always wanted to get away from home because of the constant nagging from my mother. Don’t get me wrong. She is loving, but she lectures me for hours on end, which usually involves telling me what a horrible child I am.
She compares me to my sibling who is the golden child in the family. On many occasions I have simply walked out the door, but I come back because I know I need to finish my schooling. I am halfway through that journey, and I want to finish before I leave home.
I would feel horrible for leaving, or getting disowned, after all they have done for me. But I can’t stand to be forced into marriage.
Pari, we have three questions for you.
Does someone who says “Do what I want, or I will disown you” actually love you? If you marry a man your parents choose, will you then be the golden child? If you accede to their wishes, will it be the last time they threaten you?
We would answer the three questions no, no, and no.
Your parents think their culture is reality, but by your education you’ve gotten far outside their understanding. Forcing children to marry who you want is not the modern way. It sounds more like North Korea.
When parents pick a golden child, it is usually the male heir. The other child or children can never become the golden child by their actions. Kicking you around makes the golden child feel more golden. It also makes you hope you might achieve that status, while it makes the golden child fear he could become you, if he doesn’t do what his parents want.
When your parents threaten to disown you, they are in effect wishing you dead. They are pushing you out of an airplane at 10,000 feet.
But there is a limit to their threat. They can threaten to disown you a thousand times, but they can only do it once. Then they have lost their power.
Your parents are caught in a horrible system of social comparison. Daughter graduates college. Give parents five points. Daughter gets good job. Give parents five more points. Daughter marries for love. Subtract 25 points. That social system makes you a pawn in a cruel game.
If their threats work on you this time, they will use it on you again and again, and on your children. If you comply, you will be adding a husband and in-laws to the number of people who can overrun your life.
We are biologically programmed to look to and love our parents. Good parents never use that against their children.
Get as much education as you can, in a field that will allow you to support yourself. Make plans for where you will live once they put serious pressure on you. Build relationships with those who can help.
Your situation is no worse than that of orphans, or children growing up in homes with abuse. Without meaning to, your parents might actually be advancing the cause of freedom and self-determination, and aiding in the change from the ancient world to the modern one.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for The Week of August 12, 2013
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