The Parenting Paradox: Where the Love-Hate Relationship towards Family is Built Up

A couple of days ago, I had a chat with one of my friends. The topic was around the paradox in family, in particular about parenting. Our discussion was about the paradox in parenting and how it can influence the kids once they grow up.

Our discussion started by him saying that he dislikes their parents as much as he loves them. When asked about the reason, he further said that it was primarily because he thought that there is a bipolar nature in any parenting. He then recalled his memory when he was in junior and senior high school. During that time, it was very difficult for him to obtain a permission from his parents if he wanted to join any club. “Although the fact is there is no something wrong with the club, my parent just did not allow me to join,” he said to me. I then continued to ask him what is the reason of his parents to not allow him to join the club. He answered that it is for the interest of safety. In short, he thought that his parents did not allow him to do something that was challenging at that time while in fact he actually loves adventure and trying something new.

He then went on to say that, “even when I started my college, my parents were still over protective to me. I do not know what the reason is but my mother in particular kept saying to me that do not join any activity that will potentially harm you.” He then argued that it does not make any sense at all for him since he was already an adult and really would like to try lots of different things.

Unfortunately, he could do nothing for one reason: dependency.

The story then went on from hate to love. After complaining about how overprotective their parent, and his mother in particular, I then asked him why he could not do something on it. The answer was very straightforward. It was because he was dependent towards their parent at that time.

“If you want to join any club, for sure you have to spend some money to purchase the essential things. Since I did not have enough money to do that, I would just end up for not being able to do something. My saving was not enough to buy me complete essential things. Then I just decided that I would not join the club because even my parents would not give me a penny were I ask them what the money was for.”

I continued to ask him what about other things. And he answered undoubtedly, “extremely generous.” He said that his parents would like to try their best to fulfil what he needed at that time. Tuition fees, foods, transportation, room rent, clothes, books and the list still goes on. His parent and in particular his mother just did not want him to involve in any activity that they consider risk his own life while on the other hand, he really loved it. So that is the beginning of our discussion: the parenting paradox.

The parenting paradox

In general, family is a place where you can lay your back and trust on. It is the one who loves you as who you are. In particular, people start this feeling when they were kids. They knew that their parents love them since they care so much for them. A mother in particular, probably has stronger affinity with her kids since she is the person who gives birth, breastfeeds, and watching closely as her kids grow up.

I then remember reading a book about becoming a man some years ago written by a Jesuit priest. In the book, he admits that there is a stark difference between parenting as a mother and a father. A mother tends to be protective while a father tends to let his kids explore. I cannot remember exactly the example given in the book but it was about how to responding to a simple accident. For instance, when watching their kids falling off from a bicycle, a mother will be very likely to approach the kids and to protect them, even to say that not to try it again because it is dangerous. In contrast, a father has a tendency to say that that is just normal and encourages his kids to try again. He is still going to take care of anything injured but not to discourage and become overprotective. When recalling about reading the book, I was then not surprised hearing my friend’s story complaining about her mother in particular.

So the question is: is there really a win-win solution for such parenting? The problem here is about my friend who has started to hate their family while at the same time loving them as well. Since he is now living apart from his parents, he said that,

“Sometimes I just think that I am very grateful to live alone here while not really establishing any contact with my parents. I start to think that my family is actually just an obstacle for me to reach my dreams. I really hate myself, especially remembering that I was not allowed to join a club that I wanted when I was teenager and when I was in the college. I really hate them but I know at the same time I just cannot ignore them because they actually have showered me with love that I cannot probably get from somewhere else.”

Since I am not a parent yet, I could barely give him any advice. I could only say to him that he has learnt a lot from his experience how hurtful it can be to be overprotective to your own kids. While at the same time showering them with love, it just makes an inconsistency which can be problematic once the kids grow up, like what is happening to himself. I then said to him that even God cannot change any past so the only thing that he could so is to just go on with it. But he has to remember that once he becomes a parent, it is not a good thing to be overprotective. As long as he is sure that his kids will not do any wrong like becoming a drug dealer or something that is prohibited by law, what he can do is to support and also to provide safety net if considered necessary.

At the end of the conversation, he was then wondering how normal it is to have such a hate-love relationship with the family like this. I can only answer to him, “You know how hurtful it is, so just contribute to not make it a normal condition once you become a parent.”


Love and Freedom: Talking About Building a Relationship in a Paternalistic Circumstance

First of all, I would like to thank Dwi Sasetyaningtyas for the ideas generated and conversation held so this writing can be eventually published. Though it was not a long conversation, it has brought new ideas and I would feel that there is something wrong if this idea and conversation is not published since I did felt the same way as she did when the conversation was taking place, namely about the circumstance lingering women in Indonesia, specifically, and across the globe, ultimately.

I realize that it is a quite rare situation for me to write about love in this blog but as I have said in my previous post: I will deliver all of you into a philosophical thinking rather than lingered with emotional one. Thus, spreading these ideas, generating what my thought about such a story is indeed a must.

The conversation began when she asked me: what is your definition about beauty and why do most of men will rather firstly consider women physically rather than, say, her inner beauty? In this regard, it would be a pity for a woman who is not beautiful enough to get a man attracted to her and thus lowering her possibility to get, say, a boyfriend or a qualified husband. And it will always be very advantageous to any kind of man since, regardless of his physical appearance, he can always try to get a woman who he wants without has to face significant constraints because he holds the starting point.

Following this logic, it is clear then what was considered in my conversation: that man should be a pioneer in any kind of love story since he should take initiative to attract woman. Women can only wait until an appropriate prince eventually comes to her.

I would not say that as a process of emancipation I should take a standpoint whereby woman will stand at the same podium as man; hence give an explanation that you, as a woman, have to stand and try to attract man as your emancipation process. Rather, as a man who is living in paternalistic circumstance, I would like trying to generate ideas based upon this nature before I choose to generate ideas about emancipation. Such an idea would be appropriate as a closure in this article so we will reflect the ideas in this process comprehensively.

Firstly, it is only about your appearance

If there is a question: why do most of men value women by her appearance, the same question does actually prevail for men: is it true that most of women will value man based upon his skill or his intellectual ability rather than his physical appearance?

Human beings are composed by their appearance (physical) and also by their inner strength and ability. Both of these realities cannot be separated each other. Physical appearance cannot be stripped of from inner strength and so does the opposite. Thus, if a man or a woman has only seen physical appearance of others, he/she does not actually see a whole of the body. They just look at the partial body of human beings. It will be equal to only justify the existence of face and hand when the other parts of body are covered by clothes. The problem is: we just justify based upon what is appear and have not yet known about who they really are.

A question then rises: is this situation normal? The answer is yes. Since the appearance of the body and the inner strength cannot be separated, human beings can only justify firstly by other’s appearance, regardless of the gender. That is why people can say: the man standing beside a red car is handsome; a woman who is jogging wearing her short pants is really sexy. This is absolutely normal since people can only judge by appearance and their valuation is merely based upon what they see: what is seen will become the first reality.

But as body is not only about physical appearance, it is absolutely wrong to only justify people by their appearance. Furthermore, people should also consider about other’s personality since it too becomes the part of other’s body.

A handsome man may have a temperament emotion and a sexy girl may have an improper attitude. Physical appearance then justifies nothing. Thus, having been said that it is normal to judge people by their appearance, you may easily predict about what of one of my friends had said a year ago: is the girl walking on the zebra cross crazy? How come such a beautiful woman gets a relationship with (sorry) an ugly man?

It will be seen abnormal if the condition is merely justified by physical appearance logic. But such a condition will be very normal if people realize that physical appearance is not the sole way to judge.

Though its normality, the ratio between judging by appearance and inner beauty is absolutely a matter of personal freedom. I would not like to justify every personal freedom in this writing but as an opinion I would like to say that as people grow old, they will actually have their body is becoming more vulnerable but as people develop their personality wholeheartedly, it will be last.

Hence, it is not the only problem of man of judging by physical appearance: this condition is absolutely normal since physical appearance is the first thing that appears when people are in contact with others.

Have a start? How about your finish?

The second question has something to do with starting a relationship. In Indonesia’s current circumstance, it is still taboo for a woman to take initiative for attracting man. Such women will be further considered as bitch. This is a cultural issue and culture is not that easy to be changed actually. But, let me give you an explanation about my simple thought about women’s position in such a relationship and then to take a correlation in regard with my first explanation about physical appearance.

Men, in current circumstance, may be bestowed with their position to take a start. The logic here: since you have a start, you have greater possibility to do anything you want and to attract as much women as you want. But, the reality says the opposite.

Attracting woman is not a matter like in a running competition: once you start to run, you are responsible to get the finish line; hence when you precede others on the start line, the more possible you will be a champion. Attracting woman is about man has a starting position and then running and they will not know how to finish it and when it will reach the finish line. Why can it be such that bleak?

It is because once a man starts to attract woman, either by his handsome face or his guitar skill, it is actually the woman who holds the finish line. One thing that should be underlined: a man may continuously give his best efforts to attract woman; but, when a woman does not respond to his effort, will he spend his rest of life to attract the woman?

My friend then asked to me: but you could see clearly that one of our friends does seem have that freedom, namely, bestowed by his position as a man, he can freely give his best efforts to attract many woman that he wants to. I then asked her back: if the women who are being attracted by this man do not respond, will he try to attract her restlessly?

The problem then relies not to the man itself who has a start but about how a woman places her finish line in regard with the man who is trying to subdue her heart. Thus, if people really want to think about this starting position, it is actually clear that it is not only women who wait for his prince to come, it is also about how a princess places a finish line for a prince; once there is no finish line for a prince given by a princess, the prince will spend the rest of his life waiting a princess to reply his effort.

Men may have a start, but will men always run restlessly once the finish line is already taken up?

Our freedom

A matter of love and attracting others are then a problem of freedom, regardless about on what culture that we are actually living. Once a man free to start attract woman, a woman then has a freedom to place a finish line. It will be seem very unfair if a man takes a start and also chooses his finish line. If most of people are convinced that love is actually a matter of reciprocal relationship, a process to get a relationship should also be such a process: a reciprocal and not individual, asking and replying.

Thus, how people relate this love, freedom, and physical appearance?

This is the true freedom bestowed by God upon mankind. Human beings have ratio that will always deliver them to choose between good and bad according to the evaluation process in their brain and conscience. In this regard, as I have said before, it is up to human beings as individual to choose others either based upon their physical appearance, their inner beauty or the combination between both of the aspects.

Thus, it should have not been a pity for a woman if she considers herself as not beauty as others as long as there are other aspects that will contribute to her strength and they actually have the power to not choose any kind of men considered inappropriate. The same way does also prevail for the handsome persons: even though they do seem have an advantage in making a starting position, it does not mean that they can finish it successfully. They can make a good start is a correct statement but at last it is the women who actually choose and locate the finish line. It then depends upon the freedom of women to choose and the freedom of men when considering to start attracting women. Physical appearance and inner beauty are values that are always present in such circumstance in order to make people think and consider rationally. A good person will then value not just a physical appearance. What is important: love is indeed a freedom to choose and also an act to be responsible about what you have chosen. Regarding this responsibility and marriage process have also been posted in this blog.

And there is still one question in regard of this topic: how if a woman who has fallen in love with a man and the man does not take initiative to start? In this circumstance, women are regarded to not have freedom in placing a finish line. In this respect, I would like to argue that aside having a freedom to say “finish,” women do also have a freedom to not let her heart being imprisoned. In this regard, women should have responsibility to choose between to stay with the man to take initiative or to let him go and open her heart for another person. Again, love is a matter of freedom, not only to a freedom to reply but a freedom to get released from imprisoned situation.

Lastly, in regard of emancipation, it is the opposite that will actually happen. A woman may have a start but it is a man who holds the finish line; hence it will be the same except the gender who holds the start and the finish line. Another difference that may arise also the amount of women who try to attract men since it will be very possible that it will reach equilibrium with the amount of men. Who knows?

Love is indeed a freedom and everyone is free to attract others, to reply other’s effort, and to release oneself from anxiety. And in this process, the value embedded may be based upon either physical or inner beauty. But one thing that is important to note: even though in this circumstance women often think that men are bestowed by their starting position, women must believe that they have also been bestowed by the finish line that they always hold. In this patrilineal circumstance, women do also have strength to break a man’s heart though his efforts do seem restless.

Men are not really that free and women are not actually that imprisoned.

Love and Divorce: Why I Do Defend a “Conservative” Way of Marriage

It is quite a rare thing for me to write about love, but this writing can be produced because of a never-ending discussion with one of my friends. Even though I do not meet her directly when discuss about this issue, such a discussion is quite interesting to be followed and I then try to establish and explain my point of view regarding the topic.

The discussion was started by my friend’s premise. She said that divorce is indeed acceptable since she believes that a moment of love is also changeable, it is as dynamic as life itself and thus can easily change with the surrounding circumstances. She believes that once a couple has married, they actually have no obligation to hold up their marriage when there is no love growing anymore between both of them.

On the other hand, I have such a disposition that is truly contradictory to her premise. I do believe that once a man and a woman have been engaged in a marriage, they have an obligation to keep their promise whatever the circumstances are. That is why I do support Christians’ marriage rather than any kind of marriage. It is not due to the fact that I am a Catholic, rather it has something to with dignity which I try to explain below and to make clear the disposition I hold.

In the name of “promise”

Every leader candidate who is going to take a throne always makes promises as part of his/her campaign. At the very least, the most often promise that is used is to alleviate the poverty lingering their current region or to disburse money to villages in order to develop its local businesses in the area. The question is: why do they make a promise?

The answer is quite easy. In a democratic regime when a leader is chosen by the citizens inside the region, promises can become a strong bargaining position to deal with the citizens: I promise you that your lives are going to be better once all of you elect me as your leader. The promise is indeed a deal or it can be said that a promise is indeed a debt: once elected, the promise should be made real.

Based upon this explanation, it is clear then why after a leader has been democratically elected, protests among the citizens often happen. This can happen because of one reason: the people demand the realization of the promises that had been issued once the leader was in his/her campaign era. People can get very angry with the leaders who are incapable to make realized the promise they have made. This can happen because the promise is indeed a deal between two parties. Once one party the promise, the other party insists to remember what the deal is. In other words: the promise is indeed a gentlemen agreement if it is not written clearly and just verbally issued. The point is same: the promise obliges the engaged parties to hold the promise and to realize it rather than to break it. The promise has then presupposed a moral obligation.

Furthermore, a promise is not just a kind of moral obligation between leader and those who are led. Promise is also about considering a new kind of lives that will happen in the future. When a conflicting situation happened in past, the only way to reconcile to face the future is a promise between the conflicting parties to make peaceful solution. This promise can arise because of one concern: they have the same desire to prevent the same conflict to happen in the future. They realized that the bleak situation brought no prosperity for the parties involved; thus they are able to promise to not engage in the conflict anymore.

This is why a promise is indeed an important thing in shaping sense of nationality. Once a conflict targeting the minority happened, the memory would not be easily taken out from the citizens. The only way to deal with it is to make a promise between the government and the people that government will protect its citizens in the future and also to take the perpetrator of the conflict to justice. This is the role of promise for building civic goodness in society.

About marriage

The question now is: how about the marriage? Should it be considered in the same way as the promise stated above?

First of all, marriage is indeed not a reconciliation process. A man and a woman are not in a conflicting situation as described above. In contrast, both of them are in the situation where they are going to promise each other not to reconcile but to strengthen their unity. Thus, the marriage promise is not about reconciliation but about strengthening what has been built before.

Furthermore, the marriage is not about the leader and who are led. In marriage promise, a man and a woman are equal in their nature. Both of them will promise to be together until the death separates them. Thus, marriage promise is not a kind of a leader who promises in order to seduce others. Rather, it is a kind of giving loyalty each other. Thus, can it be described as strictly as above?

The answer is undoubtedly yes. Even though it is not a reconciliation process or a process to gain vote from others, promise in marriage has also presupposed a moral obligation in its nature. And this promise is to love your partner in every possible circumstance that you will face.

Thus, when a man or a woman says that he/she will be with their partner forever, it has presupposed that they are obliged to do so whatever the circumstances are. The condition between marriage and governmental situation may be different but the essence of a promise never changes: it is a kind of moral obligation that should have been seriously taken out from the deepest heart of the partner. A marriage promise is also indeed a debt that should be paid by to be together in every circumstance they will face; either it is good or bad.

A promise is also indeed a dignity: once you break the promise, you also break the trust that has been given by your partner and you will be less trustworthy. This is indeed in contrast with civic goodness that places trust as one of the supreme value. Thus, a promise has also a correlation with trust. This condition is important to be understood because people can very easy to make a promise without considering the consequences following the promise made.

Hence, in regard of marriage promise, what is important to note is people should make a deep consideration before they promise each other and put their trust upon. This step should be completed in order to realize that the partner you will promise to is your partner for the whole of your life no matter what the circumstances are. Thus, a marriage cannot be conducted in a spontaneous manner. Both of the partners involved should be quite sure that they will not leave each other. This explanation is also to justify that divorce should be prohibited if there is no one of them who breaks the promise; and, undoubtedly said; a couple, in this manner, has their dignity by keeping a marriage promise.

Back to the premise above, can a divorce be justified in dynamic circumstances? My answer is absolutely no. The circumstances faced by a couple may be difficult but it never justifies a condition to make a divorce to the promise that has been made. If it always the case, I may no longer wonder why government leaders can easily break their promise because from the very smallest sphere, namely dealing with the affection in their conscious, people can easily neglect the essence of promise and in this nasty condition, no one is trustworthy. Furthermore, she same question may be actually asked: if you are an activist, why should you demand government to realize its promise and when you get married, why should you break your promise? Does it seem very contradictory?

Should we face a condition where a promise is indeed no more than words out from mouth? It will, if everyone no longer places promises in a transcendental way of thinking and just let it flows according to the circumstance. These people just like last men who just want that everything is going to be easy as they desire. That is why I take a disposition to let not a divorce to happen just because of unacceptable reasons since promise is indeed about dignity and so does the marriage promise: it is the dignity that should be realized as a mode of responsibility as human beings.