Most parents are just trying to do their best, but laying down the law can be damaging
‘You are free to forge your own path’: Mariella Frostrup advises a young woman that she has choices. Photograph: Cultura/Rex/Shutterstock
The dilemma My parents found out that I had this white boyfriend, from going through my phone. Now they are constantly putting me down and making me feel worthless. I have grown to love this boy more and more, to the point where I can’t be without him. When I turned 18, I spoke to my boyfriend’s parents, who agreed that I could move in, as my parents hated me leaving the house. I walked out after my dad and mum told me to fuck off. I now live with my boyfriend’s family, but I am wondering whether my parents will ever understand.
Mariella replies You are young. That’s not a criticism, but it does mean that these big life-altering decisions should be based on more than your immediate emotional impulses. It’s not that you shouldn’t be with this boy, but it’s premature for you to put all your hopes, dreams, ambitions and practicalities into one partnership. Indeed, I’d argue that that’s never a good idea, even in maturity. So many relationships turn sour when passion turns to responsibility. The more you and your boyfriend isolate yourselves the likelier you both are to feel what was once an instinctive union as a burden.
I respect that you love him and that you can’t imagine not being together, but love is not a mountain, or an ocean, or something age-old that takes thousands of years to alter. Love blows hot and cold, strong and weak, and putting all your bets on it makes for as unpredictable an outcome as a Grand National flutter. Love may make the world go round, but it also often puts us in a similar spin. I worry when people – and I’m afraid it is often girls – say: “I can’t be without him.” Necessities for survival include oxygen, food and water – but not lovers. Just because a relationship is everything you want right now, doesn’t mean it will remain so. At this important time in your life, when you are finding your path in the wider world, it’s so important to make emotional connections across a big circle of friends and family and create a safety net for turbulent times.
I’d like to hear about your friends, ambitions, other members of your social network – not seeing you entirely focused on a tug of war with your parents on one side and your partner on the other. The emotional stakes have been raised way too high, for which your parents may be held largely responsible, as their rigid stance has forced all parties to take entrenched positions that make compromise difficult. I’m sure your parents are as upset as you are and that they miss you even if they are too stubborn or enraged to admit it.
Instead of making this battle about your current romance, how about you take on a broader remit? On principle you should be free to date whoever you wish – whatever colour, religion, nationality and sex. In this instance you may have made a controversial choice as far as your parents are concerned. Your justification doesn’t lie in the depth of feelings between young lovers, but with your right to choose. Now you are at an age to decide how your country is run you are also free to forge your own path and take responsibility for the decisions you make.
Your parents appear to want to control your life into adulthood, but if your case for independence is based solely on your current love affair your credibility will be challenged. What you want your parents to come around to is not your love for this boy in particular but your right to lead the life you desire, not based on their social mores and certainly not under their control. I suggest you begin with a letter telling them how much you love and respect them and how much you’d appreciate their blessing to forge ahead with your future without them making it a definitive choice between their way and the front door.
I’m quite sure that, with time, they will come around. They’ve raised you in a country where, at 18, your life becomes your own. It sounds to me like you’ve been pushed into making a relationship permanent that would have been better left following its natural course. Your parents’ position made essential what they found unpalatable. Now you’ve made your move, on principle and persuaded by passion, it’s certainly worth trying to repair the damage.
Source By theguardian.com