It’s the common argument between a child and their parents. The topic of argument? Marriage! No, I am not talking about actually getting married, but when and who to get married to. All South-Asians in one way, shape, or form go through an argument with their parents when they attend a family or a friend’s wedding. All the “Aunties” and “Uncles” come up to you asking, “Beta/Beti, everyone around you is getting married. Don’t you want to be like them and settle down?” (I’m sure everyone who hears this wants to either strangle that “Auntie-ji or Uncle-ji or run for the hills!) It seems as if the shift in our generations has caused parents to step backwards into more traditional ways by going back to “arranged” marriages.
Traditionally, an “arranged” marriage would consist of the parents finding a suitable match for their son/daughter using their family/friends as resources. They would look into the background of the matches as far as their education, job status, marital status, and family backgrounds. Not to mention parents would also check the cultural and religious background to see if it is the same as their own. To parents, it would be easier down the road when their children had children of their own there would be no confusion as to what religion or culture to follow. Only if they approved would they sit down with the parents of their child’s soon-to-be suitor to discuss an engagement into marriage. All this would be done without the consent of their children. Only when a date was set would they inform their children of their decisions. Times have certainly changed as parents still do the “background check” of their child’s soon-to-be suitor, however, allow their children to meet the other person in a public place to get to know one another. So, where does the argument lie? You may ask. It lies in the fact that after a certain age, parents tend to start “encouraging” their children to think about marriage. However, it really isn’t as easy as one would think it is.
To this day, South-Asian parents have strict criteria for which they wish their children to follow. They believe the higher a person is educated, the more qualified their status is. To an extent, as a 31 year-old South Asian woman, I do understand my parent’s perspective. If someone is educated, their chances of having a good job is likely, therefore, family life will be sufficient. Not to mention, getting married by a certain age allows a couple to take more time to settle into their marriage, than those who marry later. However, contrary to our parents’ beliefs, to the newer generation, there is more than education, job status, family background, etc. Growing up in the United States, we have been to look beyond what a person looks like. We have been raised and taught to accept people for who they are, not what they are. That theory explains why in recent times, there are more inter-cultural/inter-religious marriages than the traditional same-culture/same-religious marriage. In addition, despite what parents believe, society encourages Youth to take our time to marry as they feel it is best to take time to meet the right person rather than settle for the wrong person, therefore the marriage ending in a divorce.
If we lived in a perfect world, the argument of marriage between South Asian children, who are born and raised in the United States, and their immigrant parents, would be non-existent. However, since we are living in a society where tradition comes second to happiness, such disagreements will occur till such time that we can find a “middle-ground” and come to an agreement. Ultimately, both parents and children want happiness to be an end result. It seems as if it will take another generation or two for such an agreement to occur.