Some of my choices were made for me.
Some times, I am thankful. Other times, I struggle with feelings of resentment. The unwavering, hovering influence, decision-maker-cum-ones-who-always-want-to-have-the-last-words-in: the parents, a lover, relatives, friends.
All good meaning. All who think they are better, that they know better.
Parents are the most eager decision-maker of the lot. They always think they are better than their children. The argument: they have been there, they have done that. Being a parent now, I do not know how that translates to wisdom, or maturity, that they feel they can control a life, no matter if it is one that they begot.
And children do what it is their parents want because of guilt, because of love, because of respect, because they have had enough of nagging, or sulking.
Maybe parents are trying to come to terms of looking at the eye of someone who used to regard him or her with awe and now looks at him or her differently, like (dare I say it?), an equal. One who already has developed – somehow – a mind of his own.
Maybe the parents are so addicted to having the power over life and death (yes) and trying to get that power back, at all cost, even at the cost of wrong decisions, or a life gone all wrong.
Maybe they have their own agendas, not caring how that agenda would hurt the ones they say they love most in the world.
Do not get me wrong. I am sure that all parents, like I said in the beginning, are well-meaning. But again – that does not translate to soundness of decisions. They are also tied by their prejudices, their own experiences, their own hurts and their own pains. The stories of the children may be different, the outcomes may be different.
Someone very close to my husband whispered to me: do not to take up law. She reasoned: because a wife has her place and it is always below that of the husband. I saw her point but winced at the insensitivity of it. Again, an agenda, a protection – but for whom and at what cost? I am lucky I have the most understanding, supportive husband.
And I look at my daughter. Right now, I am making decisions for her, like not allowing her to get her own Facebook account, or monitoring the movies or television shows that she watches, who she is with.
But when should it end? When should parents think that their child is mature enough to make his or her own choices and that whatever those choices are, it is theirs, it is their life and that they should be left to it?
A quote from Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning:
“A pious man explained to his followers: “It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. ‘Don’t be scared,’ I tell those fishes. ‘I am saving you from drowning.’ Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes.” – Anonymous
And yet another:
“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus.
But sometimes, children do need to be saved from drowning.
I have found out, though, that those choices made for me – by a parent, a lover, a relative, a friend – are almost always not the best choices. And most of the time, the influence-peddler or the person who made the choice distances herself or himself from the choice. And the choice-maker is left with the consequences.
When, then, should other people let go? When should duty end, and life – for both – begin?
Difficult questions. But ones that need answers.
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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