When Your Children Fall In Love

When Your Children Fall In Love November 21, 2013

There is an issue happening that I find utterly heartbreaking.

Several of my Indian American friends who have fallen in love with non-Indian Americans have experienced and continue to experience very hurtful behavior from their parents, who want to use withdrawal of emotional support in order to control who their children marry.

I realize that a lot of Indian parents who move to America find themselves startled to have American children. No matter how much you shelter them and keep them within your community, they are Americans and they are going to interact with other Americans. Sometimes they fall in love with Americans outside your community. You may wonder what your child could have in common with this person, but the truth is: if you raised your child in America, he or she is an American. They have a lot in common with other Americans.

I realize that you may have trouble understanding how your children could fall for non-Indian Americans. You may have some stereotypical ideas about what a non-Indian American is and you wonder how your child could love someone like that. Maybe you think we are immoral, promiscuous, don’t honor our elders, drink, party, etc. Those are cliches and not every American does any of those things.

I realize you worry that your culture will become eroded if your children marry outside of it.

I understand these fears, but you haven’t even given this person a chance.

Maybe you should meet the person your child has fallen in love with. Learn about him or her. Find out if there is a reason for concern and discuss those concerns rationally with your children.

To stop speaking to them and refuse to even meet the person they care about is cruel and it’s racist.

Find out what your children see in the people they’ve fallen in love with. If there is a legitimate problem, you’ll be in a much better position to address it.

It’s difficult to remember that your children are not you. They do not have the same history, memories, and experiences that you have. If you grew up in India, it can be difficult to really understand that your children did not. Their experiences have been different.

I’m sorry to be saying this. I don’t think it’s my place. But it is really hard to watch people dear to me suffer because their parents refuse to even meet the person they want to marry.

It doesn’t happen every time, of course, but it happens enough for me to be shocked. I’m very lucky that I’ve never had to hide the person I was dating.

Kal Penn in The Namesake


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