Monday, June 29, 2009

The Generation and/ or Cultural Gap

My parents immigrated to Canada almost 30 years ago. My mom was born in Cambodia. Her family was fairly wealthy, but they fled the Khmer Rouge to Hong Kong in the 1960's. My dad was born in Vietnam. His family was poor, but they managed get my dad out of Vietnam to Hong Kong so he didn't have to serve in the Vietnam War. My sisters and I were born in Toronto, and have grown up here our entire lives.

When I think back, and realize how much opportunity my sisters and I have at a better life than my parents. And how hard they have worked to give us those opportunities, I am humbled and truly grateful.

But then there are times, when our views are different on certain subjects, and I feel that I may be hurting them by having a different opinion.

For instance, LeBlanc and I have been planning to take a vacation together. We're thinking of a relaxing stay in Europe (Normandy, France) or strolling along beaches, long walks, bicycle rides, wine, food, and lots of lounging around. Both our jobs are demanding, and we think it would be nice to just have nothing on the schedule, except "us."

I mention this to my parents, and they seemed to take it quite well. (Much to my surprise. So, I called LeBlanc and told him that I really should be giving my parents more credit.)

Then, I get a call from my mom the past Friday. She was very concerned about this trip of mine, she proceeded to dissuade me from going.

The thing is, I get very defensive when I feel someone else's goal is to change my mind. It's an automatic reaction for me, and unfortunately, my listening abilities drop by 50%. All I can hear is "You are wrong. I am right."

My mom was concerned that "something" might happen between LeBlanc and I if we are alone in room together. Since we would most likely be sharing a hotel room. Most likely with one bed.

Did I mention that I am 25 years old? I am.

Anyway, my mom tells me that she doesn't think this type of behaviour (premarital sex) is good. It's not a right path, or reason. It's lustful. If I marry someone, they may not like it. Etc., etc., Basically, it's wrong, and she doesn't think I should do it, and wants me to PROMISE not to.

She pushed a lot of buttons when she was trying to convince me.

1) She thinks I'm being casual by sleeping with someone before marriage.
2) She thinks I've had too many relationships (this is my second serious one)
3) She thinks that "little Chinese girls" are supposed to live at home until they are married, but since I work far, she "lets" me live on my own
4) She thinks my future husband will not accept or like the fact that I've been with othen men before him

It's funny. When we were little, we were told we couldn't or shouldn't do things because we should be getting good grades. In high school, it was so that we can get in a good university. In university, it was so that we could graduate and get a good job. And now that I've done that, the NEW GOAL is the good husband. (I see the trick, I've fallen for it my entire life!)

My mom is a very stubborn woman. And I do believe that children need to have strict rules when they are growing up, because they don't know the difference between right and wrong. However, I am an adult now. And I have been for some time. I've been making my own decisions, whether she realizes that or not, and it's no longer her say.

Last time when I wanted to go on vacation with Almond (I think it was 4 or 5 years ago), she basically had the same "calm" talk with me. She states her reasons, and then expects you to agree with them. I stated my reasons, too, and I told her that I still wanted to go, that I didn't agree with her on her reasons.

She. Freaked. Out. She got very, very angry. And she hit way below the belt. She pretty much dared me to go. To go against her will.

And I didn't. Almond didn't want to go anymore. Who wants to have that kind of an axe over their neck?!

And my biggest fear was that she was going to pull the same stunt this trip. I'm not expecting her to agree with me, or be encouraging of my trip. But, she should know that it's not her say, anymore.

I was very upset with the phonecall. I reminded her of what happened last time. And I asked her that if she pulled something like that, how am I supposed to respect her?

If we are both adults, we are both entitled to our own opinions and our own decisions. We may agree on some issues, and we will disagree on others, but she cannot force me to agree with her. She can't threaten me into agreeing with her. I lost a lot of faith, when she stooped to that level last time, and it hasn't been completely restored to this day.

If she really did want me to think about it. I will. But I might not change my mind. And if I don't. She has to respect that. She can't throw a fit, and threaten myself or LeBlanc.

I've been talking this over with my sisters, my friends, and LeBlanc (though LeBlanc doesn't know all the details of the past), and I guess I need to man up and have a conversation with my mom. Calmly. Even if it hurts her, that her daughter is a grown woman now. I'm not innocent and naive. And if I want to sleep with someone who is special to me, that is my decision, and my decision alone.

I know it exposes me to be hurt. And even though I hurt like hell, through the break up with Almond. I don't regret it. And in the end, I know I've become a better person. I stronger person. A smarter person. And a more forgiving person. I may not be young and naive, or "pure and innocent", but I'm a better person. And whoever my husband will be, he'll be someone is accepting of everything about me.

So, I've decided to head home on Canada Day and confront this (and grab my passport, as well). Wish me luck!!!

Do you currently face any generation or cultural gaps with your parents or elders???


Greears said...

Oh Honey! This has to be the number one argument between parents and their daughters since the dawn of time! My girlfriends and I just had this wild party where I read them an essay I had just wrote about the boy I loved and lost (Todd) and Vince. (yes, same one I mentioned before) A big part of that story, that I left out, was my father pulling me aside after a dinner we had with Todd and telling me that I could not continue on my road trip with Todd without a chaperone...even though we'd been sleeping together every day for two months prior to our coming home for a visit. I just laughed at him. This is NOT the approach to take.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if your mom and dad could embrace your new love? Support you in that? Help you to figure out what it is that makes a successful monogamous relationship? Des, I challenge you to think of this on a different level. I believe that the consentual sex (that you may accidentally participate in under no desire on your own part;})that may occur on this vacation is not your parents true concern. Parents like yours use that as an excuse because they can not bare to talk about the feelings that they are having. Those feelings being the sadness of watching you grow up and the fear of watching you get hurt. A parent suffers no greater pain.

Somehow, some parents believe that their girls will be shielded from pain if they maintain their virginities, if there is a promise of love, and if there is a ring involved. Now add in some unreasonable Asian style dogma, or (midwestern fundementalist dogma) into the mix...whew! I hate to be the one to say this, but how many women do I know who held back from giving themselves over to love only to be heartbroken anyway?

At the same time, the girls keep telling the parents about their love lives because they want so desperatly to be validated as a muture woman who has deep and complex feelings. Rarely does this work. The girl has her feelings hurt. The tempermental (possibly menopausal) mother spends a couple of nights with insomnia stressing about the daughter. Your mother remembers-even if she is unconscious about it-that at your age, she too was a sexually active young woman and that she enjoyed it. She knows what you are capable of. This makes life unbearable for the father. Then the father can not speak to anyone in the family because he is stoic-ly freaking out and so the mother calls the daughter.

Tale as old as time.

If I were you...go them to the max. Enjoy every moment of their company that you can. Have her teach you to cook a favorite dish, or take her to her favorite resturant. Fight the urge to mention anything about your love. Grab the passport and kiss them warmly as you say goodbye. Let them think you are over it. Then head to Bali.

If you and LaBlanc decide to marry you will have something secret and beautiful between you that you will smile about to each other for years to come. If you decide you are not ment for each other, you will have a beautiful memory of your youth that will tide you over until the next one comes along.

Because you will not get validated from your parents until your man comes to your father with a marriage request, I want to tell you that I validate your love. I am happy that you have someone so substancial in your life. I am thrilled that you are putting a potentially very good man to the test.

Isn't Canada Day in October? If that is as soon as your going to see your mom, I'll bet she misses you terribly and is using unreasonable rage to get your attention as well as trying to keep you wholesome.

If you can manage to learn to not tell your parents things about your man now, that will help you later. You know that your mothers unrational rage is going to continue... Imagine the first huge post-marriage fight Vince and I had and me running to the arms of my mom and dad. God...another bad move. Bali...go to Bali

Des said...

Greears - Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and share your thoughts, as well as your experience. It is really interesting to see how another set of eyes view what I'm experiencing right now. Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate this, and it means a lot to me.

I am happy to report back (post meeting - Canada Day is July 1st) with good news :) Will be posting shortly.