Life · Relationships

A clash of cultures

Recently I was made aware that quite a few of my Asian-born-and-raised extended family have been giving my parents a hard time cause, in their eyes, my parents “failed to raise their daughter properly”. Their sin? Allowing said daughter to break off a relationship.

Now, I know that sounds silly. For everyone who aren’t aware of the ins and outs of Indonesia’s culture (like me, for example, which is awkward), from what I’ve gathered it’s generally accepted that once a couple starts dating, they’ll eventually get married. Breaking up a serious relationship almost has worse implications over there than divorce has in the UK. It’s just not the done thing.

As if that’s not complicated enough, children are basically expected to submit to their parents until they get married and move out. After which, if you’re a woman, you get to submit to your husband instead! Hence all the shade being directed at my parents as opposed to yours truly. They see my “mal-behaviour” as failings on my parents’ part rather than me being a general idiot. Now, having not been raised in the culture, I can’t say for sure if that’s the social norm for the majority or my family happens to be uber conservative. Either way, the result is that there are some people who are rather pissed off at my parents at the moment. Mad.

Obviously this puts me in a strange position as there is just not a lot I can do to appease all parties without majorly compromising on my own values and beliefs. If I carry on doing my own thing and being rather unfortunately ignorant of my family’s traditions, it’s my parents’ reputation and their relationships with their family that is at stake. Not mine, rather counterintuitively. On the other hand, I wasn’t going to stay in a relationship I’m not going to be happy in.

To be frank, I’m finding it pretty hard not to be angry at my entire extended family… I know full well it’s not them being deliberately difficult and that it’s a product of cultural and societal norm and centuries-old paradigms they’ve grown up with all their lives. It’s damn annoying though.

I’ve come to accept that there’s not really much I can do down my end. The most I can do is to acknowledge that there will always be some sort of culture clash, be as understanding of everyone’s beliefs as I possibly can without changing my own values, and keep telling myself that at the end of the day the only thing I have control over are my own responses towards other people.

Having said that, if someone does have an alternative suggestion, I’d love to hear it. Life’s a bit of a pain at the moment.

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