Don’t we all sometimes hear those stories about the ‘forbidden love’ and it sounds so movie-like, some Romeo Juliette vibe. But we don’t need to look very far to find real life examples and I personally know enough people who face this issue as they families take on Montague/Capulet roles. In my experience, it’s often due to religious and cultural reasons that immigrant parents begin to put pressure on their kids to marry people of the same culture. Considered it could be an issue before you immersed your children into a new environment? Love is love? Give me some logical arguments?
When I first told my mum that I’m dating a brown boy, she wasn’t, let’s put it, ecstatic. And my mum isn’t racist or anything, she might be the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, but brown muslim men didn’t exactly hit the mark. And I’m sure it happened to lots of you too. Parents only expect princes and princesses to line up for us & we often take a different path.
‘The families are a nightmare’
When I was exported to Europe to study, my family hoped I’ll bring back a nice European white man, stay there and live happily ever after. So imagine my mum’s surprise when I never fell for those kind of guys and in turn chose guys I was too haram for. Again, my family has nothing against any religions but you can imagine that I got lots or jokes about being forced to wear a hijab one day or becoming the 4th wife who may never see anything else apart from mosques. My choices didn’t quite match their expectations.
But thankfully, that never became a deal breaker as my family stayed true to what they always said “as long as you’re happy, we’re happy” and I know they mean it. It never ever became an issue again as my mum jokes about learning Arabic now and is excited for her probably brown eyed grandkids. Everyone accepted my choice and is excited for extra diversity in our family DNA.
Unfortunately, this happy ending isn’t for everyone as a lot of people meet real resistance from their families. Many insist on the same nationality, religion or whatever else it can be. My friends broke up with people they were in love with just because of family pressure that they couldn’t handle or knew would never end. For me it was never a choice and I argued that real love wouldn’t be shaken by families’ ridiculous demands but I never realised how that pressure could break people.
Nobody wants to lose their family and going against parents is emotionally draining, especially if the disagreement becomes a lifetime battle. You don’t want to constantly be reminded of how you disappointed your family and imagine all the ways it would be different if you picked “the right” girl/guy. And it always broke my heart to see people deal with it as I still don’t see many logical arguments as to why you’d need a particular religion or a nationality.
Some would say it’s for the same culture and traditions. Okay, yes, it would be much easier to uphold them and keep them you come from the same background. But is that really important? You can share those traditions, teach each other. You’d learn from each other and can always compromise if needs to be. How can some celebration of Easter be a reason you want your child to be miserable?
‘Shame’ and what others will think about it? First and foremost, why do we put other people’s perceptions of us before we put our kids. It happens to me and I just cannot stand it. How would you rather make some random aunt happy than you’d make your own child. Some of these ideas were formed centuries ago and should adapt to our present life. I’m sure some would say I’m just too Westernised to understand it and maybe I am but I see what it does to young people around me and trust me they couldn’t care less if it wasn’t for families’ brainwashing.
Grandkids, of course. Every parent’s worried their grandchildren will not grow into normal people if they’re in mixed families and will lose their cultural identity. Yeah, maybe partly they will but it’s not your choice, it’s their parents’ choice. Plus how is learning and practicing cultural/religious differences is bad thing? We can all multi-task and develop multicultural personalities. “Kids will be confused about which religion to follow.” That’s really a good enough reason to make your child suffer and not marry the person they love? Once the kid grows up, he/she can decide for themselves what religion to follow or maybe not to follow it at all. Good values don’t only stem from belief in religions.
It’s not my place to judge but families that choose to move abroad and raise their kids in different cultures have to adopt to it and expect changes. I’m not suggesting we all assimilate and lose our cultural backgrounds, no, that’s the beauty of immigration. But we can’t expect people not to change at all and if it’s a real feeling, why cannot it be accepted? Some families need to learn to let go of their children that always feel pressured to be under the ‘guidelines’ and never ending scrutiny. Don’t give kids that ultimate of either staying with your family or being happy in your relationship. Choose what makes them happy, not when makes your aunts happy.