What I learned when my parents didn’t let me have my way

This is intended to be a light hearted post, but one which you may or may not be able to relate to if you have strict parents. My traditional parents are very strict (my Dad for the most part). Growing up, I struggled to understand their parenting styles. It frustrated me a lot. Maybe it’s their individual personalities. Maybe they’re just paranoid about my safety.

As I get older however, I am beginning to see some wisdom in their past choices. I don’t know if I’d go so far to say that I’d be the same when I become a parent. Though there is much to understand why they didn’t let me have my way for certain areas of my life.

Caveat: I had a great upbringing. It was very colourful, albeit some what controlled. I have concluded that they obviously knew more than me at the time and saw what I couldn’t comprehend till today. Even though many of the times I didn’t get my way I would throw a fit, I ended up feeling very grounded. The wisdom of parents can only be learnt when your child hood is over.

That said, they are a lot more relaxed today. Thank God, because I’m an adult ok!

Not letting me have sleepovers or stay at friends’ places too long

Yeah, they really didn’t like this. I’m sure many kids can relate in some sense. Most of the time it was a ‘No’ or ‘Ask your friends to sleepover our house instead’ or ‘You will see them at school, isn’t that enough?’ Um no, haha. They didn’t like that I’d spend a whole day at my friend’s place either. To them it was like I didn’t know my place. Also, overstaying can appear to be rude and inconsiderate to my friend’s families who may want their own privacy. It’s funny how we grow up because these days, I am more of a home person. I don’t prefer to go to my friends place too long, and vice versa. I became a person who has set boundaries.

Not letting me go to boarding school at an early age

I was living abroad in Saudi Arabia with my parents and at the age of 14 I was starting to get lonely. I felt as if I wasn’t going to form long term friendship there knowing that my stay was temporary. I wanted to make real long term friends back in Malaysia. So I wanted to go home. To do so I’d have to go to a boarding school as my parents were still working abroad. My dad didn’t let me do so till 2 years later when I was 16. In hindsight, I’m glad. Because it meant I could continue to be grounded by my parent’s values at home before leaving to live alone. Looking at the kids who had gone to boarding school earlier than me, their value system was very much formed by their friends which is not exactly healthy. Values come from home and you must spend time there in order to learn it.

Dictating my choice of university degree

For so long I wanted to study Journalism at university. When the time came to apply for courses, my Dad gave me an outright ‘No’ and ‘What kind of a job will you get with a Journalism degree? Just Journalism? What if you don’t want to do that later on? What will you do with your life?’ Oh man, such direct questions for a 18 year who had not thought so far ahead. He told me to do Law as it was a more flexible and ‘prestigious’ degree that would give me more career paths. Well he was right about that. I loved the course but I was clear about not pursuing the legal profession. Funnily enough I ended up in journalism and learned soon enough that one does not need a journalism degree to work in the field. It’s mostly a hands on learning experience. A degree in law however, strengthened my understanding of how the law and government works which proved to be valuable to my career.

Not allowing me to travel freely till I was 21

I went to university in the UK and it was a norm for university kids to travel during Easter and Winter holidays. Honestly, it was either they didn’t tell their parents or their parents are cool. Many of my friends traveled freely and looked like they had the time of their lives. I never did this because my Dad said no or only allowed me to travel with family or within the UK. I think He watched too much of Taken at the time. When I think about it, I could have lied? But I was not that kind of person, or didn’t want to be that kind of person. My dad always said “You can travel when you’re a graduate and have your own money”. I have traveled much more since graduating and at my own expenses. And while I wished I could have done it as a young carefree student, I guess I came to understand the value of money and needing to save up for a trip.

Setting a curfew when I go out

There was always an unspoken rule that I can’t come home late or go out late into the night. With the crime rate in KL, my parents were always concerned and asking of my whereabouts. Though sometimes you can’t control things like traffic etc. It’s only 10.30pm and you’re making a fuss!? These days they are more relaxed, perhaps because I’m much older. But I realised that I don’t actually enjoy going out so late into the night. The oldie in me wants to go home and spend time in my room, reading, blogging, meditating. I love being at home. It’s amazing how our preferences change.

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