PARENTS VS CHILDREN

In the name of love: Defiance or loyalty?

Children are at times left picking sides when parents, driven by instinct or self-interest, turn down their life partners when asked for blessings

In Summary

. Parents are very vocal about their children's love choices and partners, regardless of what their children decide.

Children are at times left picking sides when things get messy and complicated.

Would you turn away the love of your life because they do not fit your parents' checklist?

When Cynthia's mother refused to acknowledge her fiance and boyfriend of three years, she was torn between obeying her mother and fighting for the love of her life. 

"She warned that if I proceed to marry Mark, she would disown me. It was either her or him. She even refused to give us her blessings to continue with our plans to have a wedding," she said.

 

The businesswoman, 26, said she considered Mark, 30, her soulmate and someone she could build a family with.  

 Cynthia's mother didn't acknowledge Mark as her daughter's fiancé because he was from a different community that she disliked. She ignored him the whole time and she insisted that her daughter would not be married off to a Luo man. 

Cynthia, defeated and at a loss, ended up returning the engagement ring to Mark, considering they wouldn't work out.

"I never fully understood why my mum hates the Luo community," she told the Star. That happened two years ago, and she has been single ever since, not hearing anything from Mark at all.

PARENTS KNOW BEST?

For businessman John, 33, his parents' warnings came to pass after the woman they had disapproved off left him after he lost his money. 

"I dated this lady for three and a half years, and we decided to take things to the next level by introducing each other to our parents and extended family," John said.

 

He planned everything by informing his family he's bringing a woman home and all was set. They both received a warm reception and nothing seemed to be off to John, until his parents had a private talk with him afterwards.

 
 

"My dad clearly said he doesn't like her because he felt she was only after my money, an idea that my mum seconded. They were simply labelling her as a 'gold-digger' and that she would run me dry," he said.

John was confused by his parents' sentiments because he thought everything was going on well, but he says they made him rethink his relationship.

"I love and respect my parents so much and I knew they had no ill intentions at all," John adds.

His parents weren't telling him to end things with her but to be on the lookout. He took their advice and continued with the courtship and halted his plans of planning an engagement.

"We were good then at some point, my business wasn't doing well and money became a problem. She started acting different and eventually ended things, saying we were moving things too fast and that we needed a break," he told the Star in a phone interview.

Her mind was made up and they went separate ways, with him feeling used, drained emotionally and financially. "If only I heeded my parents' advice, I wouldn't be in this situation. It's been seven months and I heard that she moved on with some other guy and settled down," he said.

FORCED TO ELOPE

John says heeding your parents' advice about your partner is vital and helps you see things clearer. He regrets not listening to his parents, saying no parent would want to see their child suffer over avoidable situations. 

However, Nancy Wanja's story depicts the lengths parents go to to ensure their children are married in accordance with their approval. 

Wanja says her parents made it clear they disliked her fiance because he was not financially well off, and she was more educated than him. 

"Parents will look for any means to turn down your partner, even by tripling the bride price," Wanja said.

However, she was adamant on settling down with her boyfriend and didn't cave in to her parents' suggestions of dumping him and looking for a 'better person'.

They continued courting and he was ready to pay for her brideprice, regardless of what her parents thought.

"My family asked for an insane amount, knowing well he couldn't afford it. Furthermore, my uncles made the situation worse by exaggerating the figures and were hell bent that nothing changes," she said.

Wanja said she decided to elope with her boyfriend and start a family with or without her parents' blessings, seeing how things were not going as planned.

She says her parents' antics did not surprise her because she knew if she had brought home a man of their 'class', all this would have been avoided.

"Eloping was one of the best choices we ever made and now we have two kids. We had a civil wedding later and held a party with close friends. My parents have warmed up to my husband since I made it clear he wasn't going anywhere," she adds.

She said at times, parents are misguided and are only after their own selfish needs, which they project onto you.

They already chose their lives and spouses, and you ought to be given a chance, too.

"Why would you turn down the love of your life only because he doesn't fit your parents' checklist? It's a wild concept that I'd never entertain," she said. 

DRAWING THE LINE

Joyce Omondi, a mother of three, says she could never interfere in her children's love choices.

"I would give my kids my unsolicited advice but let them make the final decision. I'm not giving them an ultimatum because that will drive them away and create a strained relationship between us," she said.

"Let your kids make their own choices as they are grown-ups, who can deal with the consequences should anything not work out."

Tom, however, feels the need to be part of the whole process when it comes to his daughters.

"My daughters are very outgoing, extroverts and party lovers, and with that, they attract a certain calibre of men who may not have their best interests at heart. That's where I come in," Tom tells the Star.

He insists he will critique the men in his daughters' lives and if something is off, they have to go. He says his children trust his judgment and they won't be offended if he says no to a few suitors.

"No way I'll let any of my children settle down with someone who isn't up to par," he said.

Martin tells the Star that children need to understand that their parents are more experienced in matters involving marriage, and that is why they turn away some suitors. 

However, the father of two says parents also need to understand their children are now grown and can make good decisions on their own.

He cautions that affairs of the heart cannot just be changed abruptly. 

Martin adds that communication is paramount and neither side is right or wrong and everybody is on the same team.

"Nobody has this love thing figured out. Perhaps your parents turn your partner down, so what? Everyone should be allowed to live their best lives," he said.

Martin says having a parent who disapproves of your partner isn’t a new concept but rather a painful one.

"Your parents' can’t accept someone who is a drug addict, thief or shows signs of disrespect, but they'll have to trust they raised you right, it's part of growing up. You will have to make a decision based on the value and principles you were raised with and what you believe in," he said.

"It’s tragic when the most important people in your life don’t get along, it really is. But that’s family, families fight and make up, then fight again."

(Names have been changed to protect identities of the interviewees)

Putting a ring during wedding ceremony means a lot because it binds the two love birds
Putting a ring during wedding ceremony means a lot because it binds the two love birds
Image: FILE