Are we responsible for our parents’ happiness? 

As children, of course we would like to repay our parents for all that they gave us, all that they sacrificed for us. 

My parents (and I’m pretty sure most parents are like that) want me to be happy. My parents want me to be safe. My parents want me to be healthy. 

I don’t know if I have a warped idea of happiness, or it is my parents’ idea of happiness that is warped. To make them happy, I have to live to their expectation. To  make them happy, I have to listen to what they tell me. Even if it means I become unhappy in the process. 

Do you see the contradiction here? 

Of course I understand that they have the best of intentions. Who doesn’t want their children to always be safe and sheltered? They would like to shelter me from life’s disappointments. They would like to shelter me from physical harm. They would like to shelter me from the evils of the world. 

This is a very difficult post. I don’t want to portray my parents as people who smother. And I don’t want to sound resentful and angry and ungrateful. I want to be fair, but it is difficult to be fair when emotions colour your thinking. 

What my mom said : We gave you life, we brought you up, and now you want to go and take a risk by going to a place where you might possibly get kidnapped and raped and killed?! (she’s always shouting when she thinks she might get contradicted) You listen to us, you are NOT going. You did not even discuss with us before making a decision! YOU. ARE. NOT. GOING. Why must you go there? Why is it so important to go there? 

which angered me, and to which I replied: Oh so you gave me life and I’m supposed to do whatever you ask me to? Why did you just not get a robot or a dog? (My mother is also one of the reasons I always wondered why people have children)

Anyway, my dad thought this is going to get out-of-hand. He never usually interferes unless he thinks it might get out of control. So he took the phone from my mother and spoke calmly (he’s always the more reasonable): Ying, you know that Thailand is a dangerous place. You know it is more dangerous than Malaysia. What if you get kidnapped and tortured? How do you think we are going to live with that? How are we going to face it?

To that, I got a feeling that telling them my dreams of seeing the whole world, of taking a year off to do work and travel in Australia, to backpack across Asia, might be a stupid thing to do. But there you go. I know that one day I will have to defy them and chase after this dream. One day, for the first time in years, I will have to ignore them and it will break my heart. But meekly listening to them, obeying their wishes will break my spirit. 

I did not realize that a parents’ order can be so final. I did not realize that my parents still have a hold over me after so long. I always thought my parents are giving me freedom – then I realized that all these years my relationship with them is so calm because I’ve either been doing what I think they want or doing things behind their backs. 

And this is when I realized why I have been so reluctant to go home and work there. I always thought it’s because of the currency and politics and etc. Yes it’s partly that. But mostly its because I was given a taste of the freedom of living outside of home, the freedom of not having to explain why I will be home late or why I might not be home at all that night, the freedom of just going to a place and telling my parents my phone will not be working for the next few days. 

I hate lying to my parents. I hate not being able to share my dreams with them. I hate having to conceal things from them (For example I had to lie to them about the Naples trip and tell them that the pictures are taken in Regensburg).

And I am grateful of course to have my parents healthy and alive. So many don’t have this privilege, yet here I am sounding like a whiny teenager “Oh my parents are out to get me and ruin my life”. 

So, I decided to give in on this short trip to Thailand. In order to gain their trust, for another few years of calm before I go on this one year excursion. 

I hope one day they will be able to forgive me when that happens. 


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