Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Way Past Eighteen

"I'm 18!"

In several parts of the world, that quote is said with positive exclamation. The number is much more than just candles on a birthday cake. It is an age that signifies independence of an individual. At this age, many move out from their family's nest. A few become financially independent. This is an age where parents learn to "let go" of their children letting them truly experience life.

This number may not mean much in some cultures. For example the Arab culture. Except for some old school people who might see it as an ideal age for marriage. Other than that, when you are an Arab eighteen-year-old, the only chance you have moving out of your family's house is if your college is in another city. That is if your parents don't convince you that you should commute everyday. Just for the record, Arab parents may convince you to stay with them by threatening to cut off your financial supply and not paying your college fees. Why not get a job you may ask? Because we have already told our parents that our local supermarket is looking for employees and they said: "You will not gain any skills from working in a supermarket; it will not do you any good on your resume." They try to convince you that you would not like the job, and if that doesn't work, they will bluntly refuse.

It does not get any better when you are past 18. Your family will most likely still have control over : where you can/cannot go, who your friends are, where you work, who you can/cannot marry...(infinity). Making a decision will require "discussing it as a family". Even if it is a decision that will have little to no effect on the family as a whole. Your family turn into socialists when it comes to your life and decisions (subhanAllah). Even if you live countries away from them, they are experts at controlling from afar. If you choose not to listen to them when you are afar, they will constantly nag till they put you in the worst mood ever; a mood not fit to carry out what you doing prior to the nagging.

You decide that you want to raise a pet, they decide that they are allergic to pets.

You decide that you want to travel, you must "discuss it as a family".

If "discussing it as a family" was meant literally, It would be less of a  problem or no problem at all. In the Arab world, this phrase usually translates to: " You will tell us what you think then we will tell you what we think and you we will all agree with the latter."

Personally, I am not in favour of family detachment, by the same token, I am not in favour of family over-attachment. Parents need to know when to loosen the strings and when to let them go.

In short, if you are an Arab, there's no rush in turning 18 because even when you're way past 18...you will still need to "discuss it as a family."