So it’s late. You’ve had an amazing night after many months of writing and rehearsing, this is a well deserved celebration and the last thing you needed to hear was the sound of an irritated yet worried mother’s tone, “where were you all this time?”.
You went over it, the life of an artist isn’t a 9-5 job. Out of everyone else in the world that could’ve been the barriers to your dreams, why did it have to be your parents? I felt like I was listening to the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff’s song, “Parents just don’t understand”.
As a first-generation Algerian who’s living in London, I personally understand the difficulty of migrating to a western society with a conflicting mentality, especially having to raise children in a modern era.
From a young age, I had dreams of becoming a Performing Artist, whether it’d be in theatre or TV. At college, what made it difficult for me to enjoy my Arts course was the constant pressure to change my subject according to my parents’ wishes. The hardest part were the live performances which would finish late in the evenings and as a result, I would get back home quite late.
I wish that my parents could walk in my shoes to understand the demands of an artist and the commitment required to succeed in the industry, instead of giving me constant negative, non-constructive criticism.
I am 20-years-old now and it’s time to stop convincing me to take another path in life. Instead, why don’t you try asking me why I do what I do? Why I chose to take a gap year to concentrate on performance instead of going to university? Ask me why I wrote that particular sentence and what it meant to me instead of just assuming things. Ask me why my favourite musical is Hamilton. Ask me why I chose a different Imam to follow than yours.
I know it is hard to understand your child’s chosen way of enlightenment as much it is hard for us to try and see things from your perspective. But it’s clear that some parents, no matter how hard you try, you will never change the way they think.
And it goes the same way for (coming-of-age) young people who are in the process of solidifying their mentality. We need to stop trying to change people who are satisfied with their choices and instead, let go of our obsession of living through people by controlling everything they do.
There is a saying that blood is thicker than water, but what does it really mean when you are talking about Arab families, like mine, whose parents think they know what is ‘best’ for their child, based on assumptions. The bond between a parent and a child should be like the relationship between two good friends whose conversations are much more honest, safe and uninterrupted.
To both parents and children, let’s try to ask more, and assume less.
Photo by Benji Aird on Unsplash