This week’s poll question is an all-time classic, older than feudalism – literally. There’s even a certain play penned by a certain English writer that addresses it. If your family disapproved of your relationship, would you prefer to end it? Or would you stay with your significant other despite their objections?
The Pillow crowd – that’s you, dear readers – has spoken loud and clear. When push comes to shove, a whopping 87% of you would choose romance over family, whereas only 13% of you would heed their parents’ judgment. I suspect, however, that these numbers are actually misleading – for why would the question be a classic, if it was so easy to answer?
Let’s take a look for ourselves, shall we?
On the one hand, there’s a good chunk of the populace that adheres to the saying “family above all” – and, normally, why wouldn’t they? Parents, even when misguided, usually have nothing but the best of intentions for their offspring. They draw upon their decades of experience to keep them out of harm’s way. And that’s why they’re so critical of their sons’ and daughters’ romantic choices. When a child’s happiness and well-being is at stake, can you blame a parent for being too protective? Moreover, can you dismiss their hard-earned wisdom and claim the child knows best?
No, you can’t, but the question is moot – the child in question is not a child anymore. Being an adult means making your own decisions (even wrong ones!), taking responsibility for them and learning from your mistakes.
A scene from Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather comes to mind; Death, while acting as a stand-in for Father Christmas, hands a girl the sword she asked for.
“You can’t give her that!”, cries the mother. “It’s not safe!”
“It’s a sword,” replies Death, “they’re not meant to be safe.”
“She’s a child!”, roars the father. “What if she cuts herself?”
“That will be an important lesson.”
That’s why, on the other hand, such decisions can’t be left in the hands of parents. Your significant other is the person you chose to have by your side and brave the waves of life with. That life is yours and so is the final word. Yours is the hard-earned happiness, should your choice be right. Yours is the valuable lesson, if it turns out to be wrong. Nobody, no matter how good and noble their intentions may be, should deprive you of this. End of story.
That said, I personally believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Even if they err on the side of caution, your parents are not your enemies. They wish you no harm; you can take that as a given. You should listen to what they have to say, respect their wisdom and take it into consideration – see if there’s merit in it. Then you should proceed to do whatever the hell you want. The potential weight of picking the wrong person – or missing on the right one – should be yours, and yours alone.
It’s your life, after all. Go fuckin’ live it.