Respect, what is?

Mother, father. Mum, dad. 

These are terms we use to call the people who brought us to this world. (Technically for believers of God, we’d say He brought us to the world but for the purpose of this post, all religious beliefs shall be temporarily put aside).

To certain parents, especially Asian parents, equate us calling them by “mum” or “dad” instead of their first name as a sign of respect. What is respect exactly?

In my opinion, just because they witnessed our birth (some haven’t even accomplished this), or “made” us, does not mean that they deserve our respect. What they deserve from these is probably just gratitude. Mere gratitude. 

Respect can’t be bought, it has to be earned. “How?” You may ask. I don’t know actually. Some parents may think, “I support you financially, and I deserve your respect.” Some others may say, “oh because I gave birth to you so you owe your life to me and hence, you need to respect me for I am your parent”??? Which really baffles me. Hey, I didn’t ask to be born. Don’t put that on me. 

You know, everything is a transaction. Literally everything. Even parenting. Parents wait 9 months impatiently, to welcome the birth of their new born. Over the years, or maybe even from birth, parents start having expectations. 

Unfailingly feeding their child with 3-6-9 supplements, hoping to give them a headstart to do better than the rest in nursery, then comes the age where their child learn how to read. Here, you’ll see mothers chasing after their child around the living room, making them read flash cards or even books. If parents made a list of expectations they hoped their child fulfil, the length of the list would share a directly proportional relationship with the age of the child – the further he gets in the timeline. 

The further he gets in the timeline, the more intense the obligation he’d feel to repay whatever his parents did for him. Everyone would be placing that responsibility on him. “You must be grateful to your parent, must be filial. They worked hard for you to be who you are now. ” This is when the transaction occurs. When we, as the child have to credit our parents for our success. Whether or not they were part of it. When we, have to repay our debts.

However, has it ever occurred to anyone that, one’s success may not exactly be entirely attributed to his/her parents? It may be due to the sole hard work and perseverance of the child. To never become who their parents were. It’s human nature to claim credit for another’s success and never to take the blame and responsibility for their mistakes. 

I have heard of so many people blaming their failures on their parents. As much as that make sense, I feel that, though it may be true, our parents don’t control our lives. We have the ability to make our life straight, the way we want it to go. Yes, how our parents were, how they brought us up, the values they taught, may be deeply rooted in us and will definitely play a very big part in our life. But as we grow, we need to have the ability to differentiate right from wrong, and what’s good and bad. What we want to carry on from their upbringing and what we don’t. 

Parenting is sometimes unpredicted, unexpected and sometimes, planned. It is a process and shouldn’t be treated as a transaction over time. 

Personally, I feel, the whole “I-am-your-parent-hence-you-have-to-respect-and-be-grateful-to-me” idea is similar to the chicken and egg analogy. There’s no right or wrong to this. One shouldn’t be called unfilial just because one feels differently.

Someone once told me to not condemn and blame my dad for his behaviour and actions, by telling me about the story of her own. She said that ever since her dad’s death, her mum has always been trying to persuade her that he is not as admirable or noble as she sees him to be. And that she fought very hard for 3 years, to not let her mum’s words affect her impression of her dad, and that I should do the same. That I shouldn’t be affected by what my mum say about my dad. But the fact is, even without my mum, the impression I have of my dad is still the same. He was never there, and never will be. 

We had a really big argument that day and he asked me to stay away from his problems (my sister’s), and since I was really annoyed, I spat, “Since when has any of our problems become your problems anyway?” 

You know how sometimes when you’re angry, you tend to lash out and end up regretting everything you said after? Surprisingly this time, I don’t regret a single thing.

Truth is, if it wasn’t for the money, I wouldn’t even be in contact. If I were to leave right now, he’d just say that I’m escaping from the problem and his side of the family would just put me and him into a picture and say that we’re alike – coward. I think that’d be the greatest insult to me. He’s nothing like who I want to be. And really, I just want to be away from problems, who doesn’t right? 

There’s actually an arbitrary line between being away, and running away. One which not many can identify and see. 

And now, I enjoy Perth. Not exactly sure if I enjoyed Perth or if I enjoyed being away from the family (my dad) and out of Singapore. And I can’t wait to get out again. 


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