Our Discussions

Turning the Tables
1 (a mother)

Here's a twist on a prior email string. Do you remember the Iranian lady in ... who wanted to marry an Iranian living in America and her mother was totally against it?

Probably most of us on Madar-Pedar don't have children of marrying age yet and may tend to side automatically with the person wanting to get married, not with the unapproving parents. OK - so here's the turn of the table:

What would you do if your child (now an adult) came home and announced he/she was engaged. The fiance was someone that you totally thought was a mismatch and truly believed it was the wrong thing, perhaps even a "brutel" experience because the person he/she wants to marry has a bad BAD history with relationships (abusive, alcoholic, drugs, crime or whatever). What do you do? Let's assume that your child marries the person despite your advice not to, What do you do then? (Would you "support" your child even though he/she is doing something that you believe will truly devastate their life? Do you go to the wedding? Do you refuse to ever see them? Do you agree to see your child in the future but ONLY if the spouse doesn't accompany? How do you know the line between when, you as a parent, are RIGHT and when you could possibly be wrong?

I've had experience this last week to see things from the parent's side. What's happening here, am I getting old? It's prompted discussions between my husband and myself regarding what we would do if we were in our friend's (the parent) position. I thought it might be of interesting discussion on madar-pedar.

As a prompt to the discussion, everyone was TOTALLY against my marriage -mostly my husband's parents were extremely against it. It's now 17 years later and we've held things together nicely (only God knows how!) and have a fantastic kid - I'm also extremely close (perhaps of all the wives married to my husband's mom's sons) to my mother-in-law and enjoy an unusually close bond with her.

Cheers -

2 (a mother)

Wow, this is a tough one!

If my daughter was truly an ADULT and had absolutely made up her mind that she was going to marry this person, knowing about his previous behaviour, even though we disapproved, I would have to accept it. After all, I am bringing her up to accept responsibility for her decisions. I would definitely go to the wedding and I would make no demands regarding him not coming to visit. Whatever situation presented itself, I would always maintain a relationship with my child and I would rather be able to keep an eye on someone I don't trust. In the future, there may be grandchildren and I would rather be in than out. My husband (the Iranian) would absolutely NOT accept a son-in-law with a bad reputation (it's going to be quite difficult getting past him - believe me!). He would do whatever it took to get rid of him (he was very emphatic). My husband is a very determined person and I think he would probably win. I know a couple (the husband is Iranian) who married without the approval of the groom's mother and she, in the end, did not attend the wedding. Her reason for disapproving was quite serious. The marriage has survived and two grandchildren later she can't undo not attending the wedding, it is completely irreversable, she will forever be the one who did not attend the wedding and the brides family will certainly never forget.

This situation is every parent's nightmare but I think that in the end, what is going to matter, is your relationship with your child (and possibly grandchildren). I hope I never ever have to make those decisions.


3 (a madar)

Dear mother #1:

It seems the answers to your questions are in the outcome of your own relationship.

I think, as parents, that we have a very short window of opportunity in actually raising our children. By the time they're eight or nine, maybe even younger, they're on auto-pilot with the coordinates we've already given them. I know many parents would disagree with me, but I think our influence is far less after those first years than the influence of peers and circumstances. For this reason, parents may do better to think of themselves as the safety net, the shoulder to cry on, the voice of advice or love, but, after those first years, a parent who tries to control their child is a parent who will lose that child and, in the process, perhaps lose themselves.

For certain, there are situations in which adult children make choices that parents know in their hearts and in their experienced minds, are wrong and will eventually (though hopefully not) be detrimental to everyone concerned. Even the best of us make mistakes. But there are ways back from mistakes and also things to be learned. It would be very painful for me to see a daughter of mine marry an abusive man, but as we know from our own experience and from extensive research in this matter, women who marry abusive men are not usually swayed by ultimatums or strong advice, but must reach their own conclusions. A parent who disowns or makes the life of the child miserable because they disapprove of a marriage decision will only push that child away, either instilling rebelliousness or simply depression. A parent's job is to create an independent human being with solid values. Even the best people make mistakes, or, as in your case, maybe it just seems that way in the beginning.

4 (a daughter)

Salam Doostan

I am the girl that wrote about my mother being against my wedding. Even though I am not a mother myself I thought I would write in to tell you what I think of your situation. If you are sure that the man your daughter wants to marry has those problems that you stated then it would be wrong of you to sit back and watch it happen - however it would also be wrong to disown your child. The mistake many Iranian parents make is they put so much pressure on their child but he/she wants to do it even more. Understand her position love is blind she probably does not want to see the bad in him - high light them gently - tell her there is no hurry for the wedding to happen tomorrow - be her friend as well as her mother - listen to what she says and tackle it slowly don't put your foot down and ruin your relationship with.

I wish you luck - if he is really bad that she will see it eventually - and if he has changed you will see it eventually too.

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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