Some Women Make Choices Their Peers (And Parents) Just Don't Understand

Illustration for article titled Some Women Make Choices Their Peers (And Parents) Just Don't Understand

We all do stuff our moms and dads just don't understand. (Princess Diana's mother called her a whore for "messing around with effing Muslim men.") But how different is your life from the one your parents imagined for you? For American women who have married Saudis, things are tough, reports Jeffrey Fleishman of the Los Angeles Times. Lori Baker met her husband at Ohio State University in 1982. They fell in love, she converted to Islam, they have two sons. But she's sacrificed family and friends. "My mother and father were just devastated at my conversion," she says. Her husband's family wasn't thrilled he was marrying an American, but just wanted him to come home after living in the States for years. "The feeling was, 'If you have to bring her with you, go ahead,'" Ms. Baker explains. But, she adds, "My husband is the man of my dreams, and I decided to go wherever that took us." She and other American wives are always fully covered in public. "When I first got here, I felt naked without my head scarf," Ms. Baker says. Now she feels comfortable in her abaya: "Nobody knows me. They can't see me, and if you're covered, they respect you. Sometimes without a covered face it's like walking down Main Street wearing a bikini."


Meanwhile, in the US, women who are the daughters of immigrants also make choices their parents just can't understand, according to an article in Newsweek. Katherine Chon's family arrived in New Hampshire from South Korea when Ms. Chon was 2 months old. Ms. Chon was premed at Brown when she decided to form the Polaris Project, now one of the largest anti-human-trafficking organizations in the country. "It was really hard for my parents," says Katherine, now 27. "They gave up a life in Korea; they were working 80 to 90 hours a week, and had so many life stresses so their children could get a great education and have a comfortable life."

Do children have a responsibility to fulfill the dreams of their parents? What if the parents risked their lives or made huge sacrifices to make sure the child had opportunities not afforded to the older generation? Or is your life yours, to do with as you please, no matter what your parents expect or had to go through?

Consider Irshad Manji, who was raised in Canada after her parents emigrated from Uganda during Idi Amin's crackdown on South Asians. Her mother is a devout, mosque-going Muslim. Ms. Manji is an openly gay broadcast journalist who wrote a book called The Trouble With Islam. "There are so many people who don't talk to me [because of the book]," Ms. Manji's mother, Mumtaz says. "But who cares? My daughter comes first."

Pursuing Happiness Behind The Veil [LA Times]
The New Generation Gap [Newsweek]



Every once in a while, we have to file a "Personal Learning Plan" (PLP), "Individual Educational Plan" (IEP) or some such nonsense for my school-age daughter and I'm pretty sure that we actually have to file at least two; One for her regular classwork and one for the school's GT program.

Every time, a couple of times a year, they look at me like I'm crazy when I say in the aspirations part of the form that I'd be cool with anything she chooses to do. She could pursue an advanced degree or open a fruit stand (I actually write that on the form). All I want is for her to be happy.

BTW: My daughter is in the second grade and we're in the third year of bureaucratically defining our educational and career goals for the child.