The Thin Line We’re Trying to Find (and Cross)

Before I begin, I’d like to clarify that this post is about most Egyptian parents, not all of them, and not parents all around the world, Egyptian parents. However, it doesn’t mean that some of the examples don’t work for other parents. Also, no offence is intended by this post to any parents. We understand you love us, but we’ll never learn if you don’t let us.

At twenty-something, when you’re still living with your parents and younger siblings, it gets you to question the independence you so desperately crave. You start wondering about the lots of different scenarios you could have been in if you and your parents were different, or had a more open/limited mindset.

I’m a 24 year old who still lives with her mom and 2 brothers, I love them to death, and I appreciate everything they do for me, as well as being a part of this family, but a lot of the time I just want to escape. And no, not escape in the sense of lock myself in my room and let no one in. But escape in the sense of being in total control of what I’m doing, coming home whenever I please, without having a curfew, and deciding to travel with whoever I want out of the blue. Escape mentally and emotionally, and not worry about what they want or don’t want for me. I’m not even that extreme.

I’ve been raised to be independent. Isn’t that how most people are raised when their parents aren’t super protective? I mean, I remember my first day at a new school when I was only 5, and I remember crying when my mom dropped me off. She didn’t want me to cry, it was about time I become unattached to her at my new school. Little did I know I would then love my school and impatiently wait for classes where we practiced our hand-writing, not only recess. This went on with everything in my life. Our parents teach us to eat alone, ride the bus alone, eventually do our homework alone, so on and so forth until we’re happy enough about this freedom.

But then we grow up, and start really thinking for ourselves. We question the values we’ve been raised with, and even though there’s always this phase of fear of letting go and admitting to ourselves that we sometimes disagree because “our parents are always right,” we then realize we’re old enough to make this our life. I think this story’s pretty much relatable. Some people reach that point before others, some people’s parents are a lot more loose, and others are a lot more protective.

Teenagers abroad are usually let go after they start college. A lot of them travel to other cities or countries for college anyway, and their parents knew that all along, so they’ve gotten themselves ready for it a long time ago. So here’s our challenge, when do we get that? Where is the thin line that we all so miserably want to find and cross, or better yet, destroy?

Before you think I’m ungrateful, I am aware of the perks of not being let go. We don’t have to pay rent, we usually go home to a clean and tidy house, and we find homemade meals ready to be eaten. We still do some chores, but they’re nothing compared to living with messy room mates (if we don’t like that) or having the responsibility of a house other than our studies and being out almost everyday because we have the energy for that. But isn’t there more to life than this stuff? I think I’d rather be fully independent and teach myself to be mature enough to take care of the mundane tasks instead of completely overlooking them and just seeing living with my parents a good “deal”.

Getting back on point, the thin line that I still haven’t found. Is it an age thing? If it is, my argument is, I’m 24, I’ve finished university (and I’m thankful you’ve paid for it, but I’m sure you’re not trying to emotionally blackmail me into paying you back). I’ve been working for over 2 years, and I’m willing to still make stupid mistakes and learn from them, or live differently than you did. Every time I try to draw the line, they react as if I’m a child, even though they were married before 24, and they had me soon after. That’s too damn early!

Okay, let’s say it’s not an age thing. Is it a marriage thing? Really? You’re only going to let me move out when I’m married? What if I’m not married until 35? Would I still have to live here and abide by the 11 pm curfew? Or will it be extended? This whole thing confuses me!

Moving out is out of the question, unless you’re moving out to another city or country, and they’d only let you because they don’t want to kill your career, but even for some people it’s not a choice. I would also say it’s easier for men than it is for women, because men are the ones who traditionally bring in the money. And it’s more important for a woman to find a good husband than to find a fulfilling career.

I was raised to respect my parents, and I do. I just sometimes feel like I want to live my life the way I imagine it. I want my values to be mine, not because that’s how I was raised, but because those are the values I’ve chosen to stick to, and I’m completely convinced. What’s the difference between 24, 25, and 30? Even 40? Yes, you have more experience at 40, but that’s mainly because you were let go, and the sooner that happens, the faster you’ll learn, because you’re not learning to please anyone, you’re learning because you’ve been through the heart-ache, pain, confusion or pride that comes with all of it.

I love my parents, I would never like to disappoint them, but we all do sooner or later, unintentionally. I still haven’t found the line, but I’m starting to believe it’s only an illusion.

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4 thoughts on “The Thin Line We’re Trying to Find (and Cross)

  1. Hazem says:

    I agree with what to say up to a certain point ,however there are two points that I would like to emphasize here.
    In a muslim community which we are in ,you have to keep in mind a woman who goes to live alone and in complete control of what she is doing (unless that there are a necessity like being out of the country and that the parents agree to ) ,is not a concept in Islam relgion ,even marriage ,a guy doesnot have to take his dad’s permission to marry ,but a girl doesnot marry (if first time,though she can if she has been divorced once) unless by acceptance of the guardian (that is in islam ,la zawag le bekr ela be waly) the point is ,you remain the responsibility of your guardian be it your parents or brothers or ..etc until you become married ,and even though God judges a woman’s actions as hers ,her father is judged for her actions as well because it is his responsibility.and this goes even though a woman is an adult and knows right from wrong …etc ,I believe that the framework God put is the best one ,and whenever people try to make frameshift it or make it extreme ,problems begin to arise

    Second ,I have interacted to quiet some time with people who become independant very much as you say ,perhaps I find a character that can live on its own ,but because they gained such an independance from such age ,many of them think going back home in christmas for example is “tiring” or “boring” ,many dont even speak with their parents at all,and many people when I ask them what will you do when your parents are very old and need care,the answer that I usually hear is “sending them to an old people’s home” ,the concept of the family is very much diminished ,and continuing to be till you wont be able to see it by the naked eye afterwards.

    Alot of us ,had already lot of dependence ,to an extent you choose what to wear,you choose what you studied,you choose the job that you work,you choose the one to marry ,you choose where to go to a certain extent before curfew ,you choose your friends ,…etc ,I’d say we have pretty much the needed freedom ,total freedom and you get freedom poison. Thank you for the entertaining and well written post

    • I definitely respect your opinion, it’s well informed, but I was speaking from a non religious perspective. I believe that Islamic perceptions can vary from one person to another, even in things that people believe are pretty obvious. And that’s why I write from a more expressive than religious side.

      Honestly, I think the differences in the importance of reputation between a man and a woman are more traditional and social rather than religious reasons. Everyone’s judging, even though they’re all sinning, while Islam tells us to mind our own business as well, not gossip about everyone who’s different.

      People assume the worst of women, it’s like the fathers have to put their daughters on a leash so they wouldn’t go “sin”. What we forgot about is that the shorter the leash, the more any person, not just a woman, would want to cut it and run off. And the rest of the society would judge a woman who isn’t on this leash, so they’d make sure their daughters are tied too.

      If families gave their women a little bit of trust, and themselves trust about how they raised them, a father wouldn’t worry about being punished by God because he hasn’t done enough, and this woman would eventually prove society wrong. Or makes a mistake, but she will handle the consequences.

      • Hazem says:

        I agree with you that a large part of what people act come from tradition and from different prospective ,that is why I wrote from the relegion prespective that is free of what people would think of . Relegion defined a role,to each person according to what their position are in a society ,in work as a manager ,you have a responsibility,as a daughter you have yet another role,as a mother ,you have a third role…etc and honestly I think women were privileged in Islam(she is more entrusted with the preparation of the next generation,she doesnt pay anything in marriage,she as a mother is 3 times above the father…..etc) and she is a river of emotions ,that makes a man kinda of feel like a child…etc (I can go writing and writing for ages like this )
        ,and they are not put on leach or anything ,it is like having a precious Gem,that others with a weak heart take a greed in ,or be harmed ,that is the natural course of things if we go outside that framework.What do you do when you have a gem? you always try to guarantee its safety (especially in our dear country) ,and I think you yourself have been raised as indpendant ,not being controlled “I’ve been raised to be independent” ,this extra piece of independance that we “desire” is the fine line that define us being different from most Europian people ,it defines that we are different in a way,our identity …you can still how they end now,(people not speaking with their parents anymore,they tried nearly everything even drugs ,the cohabitat (although they were being very conservative few 10s of years ago) ,taking responsibility for yourself is one thing ,but taking responsibility of your sons/daughters is even harder ,watching over them ,not killing them (as half of the society does out of ignorance)

  2. I guess it all comes down to how you prefer to look at it, and your religion …

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