Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Generation Gap

I'm feeling kind of irked the last two days. Just a minor irk, nothing to worry about.

One of the suckiest things in life is that point of time when you discover that some of the so-called "truths" you learn when you are young are in fact, not as true as they should be.

Like for example, the truth about older people like our PUs (parental units).

When we were young, we are taught that adults and the elders around us are wise. They are supposed to be larger than life, with all the answers and solutions to life's problems. In any situation, we need to listen and learn from them. No problem with that. That's why we need to respect them right?

And then, decades later, we find that the so-called wise older people are in fact, often as confused and as screwed up as we are. Often and usually disappointingly enough this so-called wisdom is just an illusion.

Just look at some of our politicians. I rest my case.

I'm not saying that we should wilfully rebel against our elders for no good reason. I'm not playing that "either you give face or you don't" kind of zero sum game here.

What I feel like complaining about is the lack of respect and lack of reciprocity.

Respect our elders. We should. After all, they've done it all and been through tough times and all that. There is much to learn from that kind of experience.

No problem there.

The problem here is, while everyone wants everyone to respect our elders and especially our parents for what they've done for us, I haven't heard anyone say "respect younger people" much these days. Or ever, in fact. Especially, respect your children. Especially when they are not kids anymore.

I have however, heard things like "Good children should be seen and not heard". Apparently, to some people, this also applies to adult children as well.

I try not to be an ungrateful snot, but I wonder, just because someone is a parent and has spent all that time, money and effort to raise their children, does it give them the right to treat their kids with disrespect? Does it give them the right to veto everything the kid says and declare it irrelevant just because?

I'd like to think not, but I'm pretty sure some parents will disagree with that.

I wonder what is the right response to such a thing.

My parents have the hardest time treating me like an adult and this annoys me so much, there are no words to describe it. I'm 33 years old, for the love of God. Not 12. Don't I deserve some face?

So what do I do about this?

Rationally, I could try talking to them. I did actually. Usually, it degenerates into a shouting match and my parents will dig up stuff that happened 20 years ago to prove what an asshole I am. That's right, since I failed to live sinlessly since I was 24 hours old, I'm scum and should be treated as such.

That's the problem with the calm talking approach thing when it comes to parents.

It will never work if the parents see their child as an inferior. It can never work out if they cannot or will not see their adult child as their equal. If the child is not on the same level as they are, why should they listen to anything they have to say?

And so there it is, the root of the evil in my house. I'm just my parents' idiot son. To my parents, I'm not a real person, much less an adult. They will never listen to me. They will never tolerate it if I ever try to disagree with them or ask that they stop nagging me like I'm still 11 or something. They will never ever be able to to have a conversation with me because I am their inferior. I'm beneath them. They talk, I listen. That's it. Not negotiable.

There is no solution to this problem. The only thing to do is what I've always done all these years. Stay out of their way and avoid unnecessary contact. To expect my parents to change their way of relating to me is to ask for way too much. At their age, their habits are set in stone. I'm just going to have to live with that.

I don't hate my parents. And I'm not saying that I'm always right either. Of all the people in the world, no one is more aware of the wrong I've done more than me. I'm the one who bears the shame of every single mistake that I've ever made. Me. Not my parents.

I only wish that maybe one day, my parents will talk to me properly and give me room to answer them with what I have to say rather than talk down at me and expect me to just shut up and put up. I only wish that they just ask me when they wonder about what I do or where I go instead of making assumptions (which are usually wrong and negative).

Is it really rude to disagree with your parents? Is it better to pretend to agree with them even when they are being wrong? Where did this come from? Who makes the rules?

There is no way to fix this, is there? This is how my "family" will always be, isn't it?

Sometimes, I feel great despair when I think about it. I just wish so hard that things were a little different.

But this is real life and in real life, wishes aren't horses.

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