February 15, 2015 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
I have two very good friends who just ended a relationship that was headed to the altar because the lady’s parents refused to give their consent to the marriage. Her parents simply forbade her from marrying the guy or continuing her relationship with him. So, at her parents’ command, they buried a relationship they had been nurturing for a while. The most painful part of it being that they had planned for 2015 to be THE year.
When I went to visit my friend and her family last weekend, I asked how she was holding up. It was obvious that she was heartbroken, but she told me that she was getting by. She was learning to live with the pain. In our conversation, I kept saying that I wouldn’t be able to make so great a sacrifice no matter who was objecting to the union, so she asked me a question:
“What will you do if your parents do not allow you to marry the person you have chosen?”
She repeated variations of this question, but even though the phrasing changed, the word “allow” was present in each incarnation of the question.
Whenever I heard the word “allow” as applied to the question, my brain rattled. The notion of whether my parents would/would not allow me, an adult, to make my major life decisions left me speechless.
I was also reminded of another conversation I had with my girlfriend who wanted to know why I would consider the option of defying my parents if they ever forbade me from marrying someone. For her, her parents saying no is the end of it.
Like I said to her, I, Kambili M.A Chimalu, am the only person that can wield a VETO in my own life. This does not mean that I will discount whatever my parents say. The thing is that I will, in good faith, consider any reservations my parents may have about any partner of mine. I promised to seriously consider any legitimate reasons they may tender as to why they are against the union. If they see that the guy is maybe emotionally abusive or controlling, they can point that out to me and I will take proper measures.
However, he is not Nigerian is not a legitimate reason. He is not Igbo is not a legitimate reason. He is not part of our denomination is not a legitimate reason. He is not from our state is not a legitimate reason. In short, any prejudice my parents may have is not a legitimate reason.
I have always believed that because I have just this one life to live, I will not live it chained by other people’s prejudices. My parents may have their biases and prejudices, but I cannot be expected to abide by them.
In one of my many conversations with my father, he told me about a friend of his who was trying to force his daughter to marry against her will. I simply said that the girl should not do what the father was asking. I suggested the girl marry the man she wanted, so my father asked me, “So, if it were you, you would disobey your father?”
I said to him, “If my father ever puts me in a position where my only option is to disobey him, I will never forgive him for that.” I made it clear that I could not and would not submit to that kind of parental tyranny.
People are always quick to point to Ephesians 6:1 –Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do— whenever the question of blindly obeying one’s parents comes up. The less often quoted verse is the verse that outlines parents’ obligation to their children: Ephesians 6:4 –Parents do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry.— A parent trying to force his/her adult child to act in a way that compromises the child’s happiness, autonomy and independence is asking for whatever the child’s reaction might be.
At a point, parents need to realize that they are supposed to take a back seat and let their children take over the reins. If a child has been raised properly, the parents should realize that the child will make the correct decisions. Even if the child makes a mistake, it is the child’s mistake to make.
How else are we supposed to prove our adulthood if we cannot be allowed (that word I hate) to make our own decisions in matters that will affect our lives for the foreseeable future. Marriage is not an easy task and it is not to be embarked on lightly. If I search and search, and then find someone who is compatible with me, my parents have absolutely no right to forbid me from marrying the person. I will be the one in the marriage, not my parents, so I cannot make my marriage decisions based on my parents’ prejudices.
I love my parents and I always endeavor to obey them, but I have never been a fan of blind obedience. Live and let live has always been my motto.