October 22, 2007

The Power of Disobedience

Filed under: Random Crap — Katrina @ 9:43 pm

I was thinking about the general power that parents have over their offspring. Not just as children, but continuing through their lives. After perpetually training them as children to obey them, that their word is final, that they must never go against their parents’ wishes, the message sticks. Sadly.

I listened to my mother if I felt like it. Naturally, it led to a lot of family issues. She’d ask me to do something. I’d do it if I felt like it, which I did sometimes. I only did stuff if I saw some actual point to it. Like putting dishes away. Hated it, but knew it had to be done, so I did it (eventually). Mom didn’t like my attitude, of course, but screw her. I really didn’t give a crap what she thought. Or, well, I did to a point, but after a while, I realized more and more she was in no place to be telling me what I should be doing when she could barely make decisions for herself.

And it’s not until recently I realized how awesome it is that I don’t give a shit what she thinks. Because, sadly, so many people, adults mind you, never quite get out from under their parents’ thumb.

I’ve known so many people like that. A girl I know was going to move in with her boyfriend, but her parents flipped out, believing an unmarried couple should not live together, so they ended up getting married right away. They nearly divorced only a year or two later, but ended up getting back together. Still, though, maybe if she didn’t feel like she had to worry about what her parents thought, she might have just ignored them and moved in with her boyfriend premaritally anyway, before getting into anything more serious yet.

Another couple I knew once ended up breaking up because the girl’s mother didn’t like the guy and kept calling her home every time she’d go to see him. The girl, being still proverbially attached to the umbilical cord, jumped right up every time and obeyed her mother. If she figured out how to tell her mom to go sodomize herself with a rusty fireplace poker, then maybe she’d still be with the guy and they’d be happy.

The list goes on. People make career choices based on their parents’ expectations (regardless of the involvement of the parents’ money). They choose their friends based on parental expectations sometimes. They’ll keep their appearance in a way that the parents approve of. They’ll make vacation choices based on what their parents think. It’s pathetic.

Hell, sometimes even after the parents have died, people worry about what they would have wanted and base their own life decisions on that!

The parents themselves know it and love it. Ideally, a good parent would have a child who is healthy and self-sufficient, but really they tend to want a child who is loyal and obedient, like a well trained dog. Even if their kids are well into adulthood, they expect the utmost respect and compliance. I don’t mean the types who are in their forties and still living at home, no. I mean ones that have moved out and even have spouses and kids of their own. And those poor grandkids have to deal with this crap, as their thumb-sucking parent will make every little thing about the kids to be what he/she thinks will be acceptable for those grandparents. I’m sure a lot of us have been there.

Ever notice how doing anything disrespectful to your parents is considered one of the worst things you can do? Lying to your mother is like a sin worse than murder. Talking back to your parents is a serious taboo. Contradicting them, how dare you! Going against their wishes? Oh, man, you must be possessed by Satan! Did you yell at your parents?! ZOMG, you’re going to get the chair!

And this is no matter how old you are. And this is no matter what the parents have ever done to you, even though with the father this sometimes isn’t the case. But mothers can do no wrong. She could slap the shit out of you every day of your life, but if you ever raised a hand to her, you’d be banished from society.

This is not a healthy attitude! Good relationships, good arrangements, good times, good lives… they all get ruined when people decide they have to go with what their parents think all the time.

Girl nervous about her parents meeting her new boyfriend, probably because she may like him now but if the parents didn’t like him, she would cease to like him.

Family cancelling what would be a lovely vacation because grandma told them they shouldn’t be spending the money.

Student not going to the college he actually wants to attend because his parents don’t like it.

Student staying in college even though he wants to quit, but won’t because his greatest fear in life is ever going against what his parents want him to do.

It might not even be quite to that extent. Someone could make a great accomplishment. Hit a homerun. Write a wonderful book. Make a lovely piece of artwork. But she’d never be happy with her accomplishment because her parents don’t care for it. Everyone else could think it’s great, and she might really want to feel good about it, but as long as mommy and daddy aren’t happy, she can’t be completely happy.

And that is why disobedient children are so great. They aren’t just mindless drones fated to kiss their parents’ asses for the rest of their lives. They’ll do what they want to do regardless of what mommy wants. They won’t be putting up with a bigoted abusive dad for no other reason than he’s the dad and they have to put up with him.

Don’t like your parents? Refuse to follow the societal expectation that you must suck up to them at every moment? Then you obviously have a “problem”. Everyone will say so. And every little character flaw or any other issue you may have will end up being attributed to your lack of divine reverence to those who gave birth to you. Your refusal to obey your parents will be seen as a pathology.

They’re just jealous.


  1. Good point.

    You know, we say “people don’t suddenly become mature adults at 18 or 21” as a way to argue against arbitrary age restrictions. But another effect of that is that people, at 18 years old, are used to being under their parents’ thumb their entire lives, so why would that change when they move out?

    Comment by Adamantaimai — October 23, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

  2. I don’t think disobedience necessarily implies such a high degree of independence. At least some people who disobey their parents are nonetheless very concerned–perhaps too much so–with what their parents think of them. There is a huge difference between being willing to respond to “Because I said so” with “Well, I’m doing it anyway,” and being able to shrug off the feeling that your parents are disappointed in you, don’t love you, or think you’re doomed. The gap may be especially large when the parents recognize to some degree that their children ought to be independent, because then you’re not really disappointing them when you refuse some arbitrary order.

    Comment by Alexander — October 26, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

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