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Monday, February 13, 2006

Parents-children relationship

The following short conversation happened between an old friend, a guy, and me some years ago. We used to be very close during two and a half years at high school.

W: Some time ago, I visited a sick friend in a hospital. Two sick people in the same room with my friend attracted my attention. One patient was surrounded by his children. He looked so happy although he was sick coz his children were there, to give him full attention. The other patient was lying on his bed all alone. No children visited him. Poor him. It made me imagine if I don’t have any kid, I will end up lonely in my old age. I don’t want such a sad thing to happen to me. That’s my main reason why I adopted a child. Although he is only my adopted child, I believe if I raise him well, take care of him well, he will pay me back later.

N (with my cynical nature, but honest): Don’t you realize how selfish you sounded to me? You adopted that kid, not mainly to help a poor family that cannot raise him well, give him good food, clothes, and education, but mostly to satisfy your own egotism, to make people admire your good-hearted character, and then, to make that kid feel indebted to you so that later he will pay you back all the money you give him, by taking care of you in your old age? Maybe also by giving you some pension money after you retire or you don’t feel strong anymore to make your ends meet? What if later on he doesn’t grow up just like what you expect? Will you regret it? And then you will feel hurt consequently?

My friend was speechless to hear me saying something he didn’t expect to come out of my mouth. Not meeting each other for some years obviously has made us view things from different, or even, contradictory point of view.

In our culture in Indonesia, one most asked question to newly wedded couple was, “Have you conceived?” or “When will you have a baby?” Many people take it for granted that it seems the main reason for people to get married is for breeding. People then believe that without a baby a family is not happy, not “normal”. Neighbors, friends, relatives keep asking the couple about the coming of a baby without realizing that such a question really bothers some people who unfortunately are “destined” by God difficult to “produce” a baby.
To conform to the norm constructed by society about the “happiness” of a family (read à to have a baby), many couples do the best they can to have a baby. Some have to spend much money for that.

Don’t we then realize that having a baby is for our own egotism? For our selfish nature to make people consider us as “normal” and “happy” people? (Why do people not feel confident with themselves that they are just “normal” and “happy” so that they need other people’s recognition that they are really normal and happy? Don’t we realize that feeling happy comes from our deep heart, and not from other people’s judgment? Why should we care for what other people talk about us?)

When we realize that having a baby is for our egotism, we are supposed to give the best for our children, right? Our responsibility as parents is to give them the best, without expecting that one day our children must pay back what we have given them. We have “made use of” our children to make people around us call us as happy and normal couple. I think it is too much then if we ask our children to give us what we ask them as “tribute”. It can be in the form of obedience, admiration, respect, until money after our children grow up and work.

One good friend of mine comes from a family with seven children. Her parents are not lucky to have big income for the seven children. Therefore, since in her undergraduate study, she has worked to help her parents’ finance. I see her as a very responsible child for her parents, though I still say that it is not supposed to be her responsibility to take care of everything only coz she is the only one from the seven children who continued her study to college.

If we all can choose, I believe we want to be born in a family without any financial problem, or any other problem. We have come to this world, not coz we want to be in this mortal world, but coz our parents want to have children, to make them considered “happy” and “normal” by their friends, relatives, etc. Then, we are indoctrinated to be obedient to our parents, respect our parents, and in many cases also to be submissive to them to do what they want us to do, sometimes without any other choice, as if we don’t have our own way of thinking as a free person, if we want to go to heaven in later life. Consequently, we will do the same thing to our children. It means, this unfavorable condition will happen again and again? When will we be fair to our children so that later on they will be fair to their children?

Any comment, friends?

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