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.”


The Ramadhan Paradox in Indonesia

Ramadhan month is always exalted by Muslims across the world as a month for cleaning their own heart; since in this month they have to do fasting means to reduce their desire for eating, drinking, and sexual conduct. Unfortunately, there is one desire that seems very hard to remove: a desire for doing violence and harsh action.

Even though the desire is not conducted by all Muslims, it has successfully given Ramadhan month an opposite essence. It can be clearly seen by what had been done by FPI in Makassar when they did raid upon a restaurant that opened in Ramadhan. What does make it worse is several days ago they vowed to not conduct any harsh action. Another case can be seen in Aceh when Sharia police had to arrest three men for buying food.

The month is then no longer considered as a month full of grace and peace; instead it is the month when extremist can do more harsh action in the name of religion in order to establish the ”true” Ramadhan and many people haunted. Is the condition above really expected and should happen regularly in Ramadhan?

The essence of fasting
A question does rise here: what is the truly essence of fasting in Ramadhan month? Is it true that the aim is to only reduce of flesh desire?

Whatever religion that is used as a basis for conducting fasting, the essence of fasting is never altered absolutely. There will always the same ground where every kind of fasting places its own root. And the ground is fasting is essential for doing reflection. Thus another question does rise: why fasting should be a moment for reflection?

What does lack now is the truly essence for rebuilding one soul to be a better person, not only for himself and religion, but in a broader sense: for their surrounding society. Thus, fasting is a moment for doing a reflection. Have I done something useful for society or on the other hand, had only always done something useless and harsh? That is the question that actually should be answered by those who are conducting fasting.

What is actually conducted in fasting is thus not merely to reduce flesh desire. Furthermore, it is also about how people can control themselves properly. And this can be measured not through them alone; instead through how they treat other. If fasting can only bring hatred feeling toward other especially with using violence, it can be no longer considered as fasting. Fasting in this respect is only appearance. It looks like fasting at outer shell but tainted inside.

Unfortunately, this “appearance” fasting is regularly repeated in Indonesia. Extremist can easily tear down night club, massage house, and other night entertainment place, even restaurant that opens in afternoon. In their view, this kind of activity can defile Ramadhan month. But, is there anyone who can precisely determine the level of purity of Ramadhan month? What is more expected: fasting with harshness and violence upon other or doing fasting with bringing peace with other?

Problem of regulation
Another important issue beside the essence of Ramadhan, which actually lost in the hand of those who conduct violence, is regulation. In Indonesia, many regions regulate that in the Ramadhan month, night entertainment must stop their activities and restaurants should also do the same thing but in more limited times, namely in morning until evening.

This regulation undoubtedly raises many protests since it is considered to give significant contribution to their income depreciation since not every Indonesian conduct fasting so actually they can still earn money in fasting month.
Another reason is raised by people who work at such working house since they have to also suffer lower income, even do not earn money any longer because they cannot work as usual.

Economy thus has become another problem in Ramadhan month.
Hence, what should be done is making a regulation that can compromise with both sides. On one side, the regulation can provide Muslims for conducting their fasting and on the other, it has to also welcome with restaurant and night club business that provides economy condition for several people.

One thing that should be done regarding the regulation is through a win-win solution. Restaurant can operate in Ramadhan month but with some limits that absolutely constraints their appearance in public. This kind of regulation is implicitly applied by many food stalls by using curtain for closing their stall so outer people cannot directly see what is inside.

Regarding night club, what is imperative to be regulated is about operational time. Absolutely closing them in Ramadhan month is considered as a one-sided policy. Thus, regulating their operational time is necessary. These steps can be used as a win-win solution.

Another accentuation should be placed regarding law enforcer role in Ramadhan month. What makes the above problem worse is, as reported, that police there just gave his concentration upon the traffic jam.

In the future, this kind of harsh domination should be avoided in order to make hard-line mass organizations do not violate the Indonesia constitution. In this respect that law enforcer should have more power to avoid harsh action done in Ramadhan month.
These several steps actually can be applied in every Ramadhan in order to not make fasting a mere appearance of reducing flesh desire act and in reality the soul is not treated properly. What make Ramadhan month purer are not about how many food stalls and night clubs that can be successfully closed down. If those things are always used as a parameter then Ramadhan is always to about appearance.