We were having a meal and again (for the 100th time), topic veers towards marriage. I may be stereotyping here but somehow Asians seem to be so hung up on marriage. More on this in another post.

And they all start talking about how all Indian parents force their children to marry someone they chose, parents committing suicide if their daughter marries someone of her choice, parents abusing their kids blah blah which is stupid and my point that one cannot stereotype Indian parents fell on deaf ears.

I think many people often fall into this trap of putting all people in one extreme category but things often can be more complicated than that. There are a wide range of people from extremely conservative to extremely liberal and every point range in between. True that the patriarchal system promotes conservatism and certain values in society but it is plain annoying having to listen to stereotypes about Indian parenting coming from people who do not know other cultures well.

After hearing the same old stereotypical stories from them for the 10th time, I asked them what makes them think that all Indian parents are always less liberal than south east Asian parents? 

I have had heard from south east Asians how their parents can be not so nice too.

– Their parents berating them for having no charm to catch a guy and telling them that they are incapable of snagging a boyfriend.

– Forcing their child to do and remain in PhD even if the child hates research and wants to quit.

– Nagging them to get married every time they talk.

– Hitting their toddlers and pushing them down on the floor when they cry.

– Pressurising their daughter to marry a certain guy they like because she needs to get married ASAP, even if she does not like him.

– Wanting and trying so many things just to give birth to a son.

– Not liking their child’s spouse because they do not earn a large amount of money.

– Comparing their children to others and asking them why they are not as good looking/smart/successful/earning more money like their peers or relatives.

–  ” The Battle Hymn of Tiger Mother” gives you further ideas. Though that book makes me angry and I do not recommend reading it.

When I pointed this out, they started telling me more about all the other pressures they face from their parents. Despite all this, they dare not have an open honest conversation with their parents about how it hurts them to be spoken to like that and refusing to put up with behaviour like that. 

My conclusion is:

  1. I do not like when people are put in boxes like that and though I do that, I definitely do not like when people cannot look beyond that or unwilling to reconsider the boxes.
  2. Lot of these parental expectations are often a result of social conditioning and it takes great strength and a lot of self-introspection to question and break free of that.
  3. Parents may be liberal in some aspects and conservative in some and the aspects may vary depending on the society.
  4. This is not to say that all south east asian parents are mean or all Indian parents are good. It is a very complicated issue and parents can be everywhere in between just like normal people are in different aspects.
  5. Parenting is a tough job all in all and nobody teaches you or gives you a prep course on how to parent anyways.
  6. This is not to say that Indian parents do not stereotype other cultures or  all Indian parents are good or I agree with everything they do in India either.
  7. I often wonder how many people become parents because after a lot of introspection, they truly decide they want to become parents. Often to me, it looks like the baby was just an accident, people become parents due to social conditioning (like we all must get married, we all must have children), social and peer pressure, that’s what everyone is supposed to be doing etc.
  8. You have an issue with your parents, despite where you come from, I believe as adults, we should be able to hold a conversation in a polite, nice manner with our equally adult parents that despite respecting their view, this is what works for you in life right now. This includes firmly refusing to put up with emotionally and psychologically abusive behaviour, even if they are your parents. Abuse can happen in any part of the world and is not restricted to any particular groups or races.

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