Woe Is Me! “My Parents Are Pressuring Me to Shift to Another Country”


May 31, 2020


Image credit: Khubsoorat (1980)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.

My family is pushing me to move to a country with a language that I cannot speak. I feel trapped and uncertain about my future. How do I handle the pressure from my parents?”

— Craving Some Stability

RD: Hi, I’d suggest you figure out what you want. If not going to this country is what you want, then assess why your family wants to send you away so badly. Then, once you get to the bottom of the actual reason, you’ll be able to figure out alternatives closer to home, if that’s what makes you feel more comfortable. Put your happiness and comfort first, and try and get them to see your priorities. Being your family, they should be able to see a choice that will make you unhappy is not the way to go.

If they’re one of those shitty families that don’t care, either try to find a family member you can get on your side — strength is always in numbers — so you can openly dissent. Put your needs first, and if that means making the family environment uncomfortable for some time, well, everyone will just have to suck it up. If dissenting means you’ll be in danger somehow, involve an outside person that your family listens to, so you have some support regardless. Going away is a big step — if you’re less than 100% enthusiastic about going, don’t.

KB: I wish I had more context! Speaking with very little knowledge of what your relationship with your parents is like, why they are pressuring you, what your life is like both at home and what the circumstances are where you’d be going, it’s really very hard to give solid advice. But there is one principle that I think holds, no matter what the facts of your particular case are: you need to to decide what is best for you, and not based on what is best to keep your parents happy. It’s your life.

Which place holds the most potential for your future personal fulfillment? Which place is more likely to nurture your intellectual and emotional needs? I will say, as a person who has moved many times in her life, that every time you leave the things, people, and places you know behind, there is some discomfort. But there is also adventure, a steep and exciting learning curve about new people and cultures, and the potential to experience a broadening of your life experiences that can ultimately enrich you. I realize I am sounding like a terrible self-help book right now, but the cliches are at least partially true: no one ever broadened their mind and perspective by sitting in one place — either metaphorically or literally — their whole lives. And human beings are incredibly adaptable — you will surprise yourself with how quickly you figure out how to exist in a totally foreign environment.

Now all of that said, if the reasons they are pushing you to go are unsound, I take it all back. These would include, for example, moving so you can marry someone you’ve never met, or take a job you don’t even want. In that case, I’d call bullshit and assert your independence. But that’s why this question — more than most we receive — really can only be answered by you. What are you searching for, and where is that most attainable? Go or stay there.

LG: I’m assuming your family wants you to flee the country to a place you can’t communicate because you’ve killed a man and need to be well hidden. I would feel uncertain too in your situation, but take heart – you’re not trapped yet! (Assuming said country doesn’t have an extradition treaty…) It seems like your main concern is not speaking the language. That’s understandable, but if you’re open to living abroad otherwise, as someone who has lived in multiple countries where she doesn’t speak (much of) the language, there’s nothing more exciting and no feeling of accomplishment greater than figuring out someplace new and foreign and making connections without the crutch of easy communication. It helps you learn a lot about yourself. If the language thing isn’t your main concern, then you need to come to terms with what is, and discuss it openly with your parents. They can’t ease up on the pressure if they don’t understand why you’re against the plan. Regardless, good luck with your life on the run. I suggest a dark pair of sunglasses wherever you end up.

SM: I can totally relate to this problem, as can a lot of middle class desi kids I’m sure. Going abroad (literally anywhere) is seen as a big achievement not just for you, but often, for your entire family. It’s understandable where this pressure comes from, but it’s also unfair for you to feel burdened by this particular idea of success. I don’t know if you’ve tried this, but if parents keep bringing it up, I think it might be helpful to surprise them with a conversation about this one day and come fully prepared with future plans (even if you aren’t entirely sure, at least come up with hypothetical plans), and argue out the details about why this doesn’t fit into your plans. In my experience, this sometimes helps baffle them into acceptance. But if that doesn’t help, as hard as it is to do, you need to accept that the nudging and pressure from them will be a constant part of your life at least in the near future. Just accept that, and work on your plans regardless. Seriously consider what it is that they’re asking you to do, but don’t let the pressure to do it or to move away from it define your future plans. 

DR: Speak up and communicate. There’s no other alternative to a candid discussion with your family. Explain to them why you’re far from enthused about this decision. In doing so, you’ll be able to unpack and understand your own reservations against moving a little better — and, maybe, just maybe, you could come to realize that it’s just nostalgia-laden inertia that’s holding you back from starting a new life. Whatever your concerns may be, appeal to your family to address them. However, if your family isn’t open to hearing your woes, I think you could seek help from a relative or a family friend that they would listen to. Good luck!

AM: What would really help us understand your problem better is the reason why your parents are asking you to move abroad. Is it because of better education and job prospects, quality of life, or because they think it’ll be easier to find an NRI, get married to them and settle abroad permanently?

If you’re someone who’s still studying, it would only make sense to first understand which field you want to make a career in and see for yourself if you can get the same kind of education in India because you like it more here. If it’s for a job, I’m sure you’re old and independent enough to decide the pros and cons of working here vis-a-vis working abroad. If it’s about the quality of life, it depends on which country they’re asking you to move to.

All these are conversations that need to be had with your parents in a strategic way where you show them both sides of the coin regarding your move and how it is making you feel. They need to know you’re feeling underconfident about it, that there might be chances that you won’t get acclimatized at all. Is it going to be worth spending all that money on then? 
But if they’re pushing you to move abroad with the hope that you’ll find an NRI spouse and they’ll be able to brag to their relatives about it, then you can threaten them with some emotional drama too — maybe tell them you’ll never come back, how can they push you into something you don’t want to do, what if you get lost, what if you fall sick, I’m sure you’ll find many reasons. If you’re not up for it, don’t do it and don’t rush into it just because they’re your parents and they’re asking you to do something. They’re just humans and they’re not always right


Written By The Swaddle Team


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