Abusing Parent Privileges in South Asian Cultures

An Open Letter to Pakistani Women with Sons:

You gave birth to this person after protecting him, carrying him in your womb for nine months and vowing to spend the rest of your life putting him first. You raised him. You taught him how to walk, how to speak, how to eat with a spoon. You were the one he came to for everything. When he was hungry, when he was angry, when he was upset, when he just wanted comfort- he came to you. You are his mother. You know how he sleeps best and every medication he has ever taken. You know the first time he got a good or bad grade, what he enjoyed doing when he was five versus 15. You know the first time he got sick, and how any threat to his life was a threat to your own. You gave your body, your life, everything to him. You taught him right from wrong–to give to people with an open heart. To never take advantage of another individual. You taught him to be honest, no matter how difficult, to give respect, no matter the person. You raised him to become the man he is today. An adult. And still, your child.

When your son comes home speaking of a woman, you listen, but you do not always hear what he is saying. You are fearful your son does not know as well as you, you are fearful your son will make mistakes you could have prevented, you are fearful that your son will prioritize a woman above his family. He is your son. You raised him. You want the best for him.

You raised him to become the man he is today. An adult. And still, your child.

But bringing a child into this world does not mean you own them. And bringing a child into this world does not mean the only purpose they serve is to be your child. The woman he speaks of did not teach him how to walk but she reminded him how to carry himself should he lose his way. She did not teach him how to speak but he learned through her how much weight words can carry. She did not teach him how to eat but he’d rather eat with her than alone. He no longer comes to you for everything. When he is hungry, when he is angry, when he is upset, when he just wants comfort- he goes to her. Realize that it is not with the same meaning he gives to you.

Pakistani women with sons: your sons are not your servants, caretakers or husbands. Daughters are given away from one family to the next. Sons remain within their surname, this does not translate to them not deserving independence from it. To bind themselves to you is a gross misuse of the authority and power you hold as his Mother. To limit their decisions, to confine their world to your opinions and wishes is destructive of their happiness. This is the man you raised, and instead of harboring paranoia and insecurities, you should have trust in your relationship with him.

The partner your son chooses will be a direct reflection of his upbringing. What he values, what he needs for a substantial relationship. This woman is not a product of society and marriage culture. She does not pursue the relationship for money. Or status. Or reputation. Unless that is how you raised your son. She is a human being who comes from her own life full of parents and difficulties and relationships and interpersonal issues. She is a woman who learned about the man you raised and decided to care for him more than any other person.

But bringing a child into this world does not mean you own them. 

She is the only person who will ever understand your son as much as you do. The only person who will know if he talks in his sleep, how he likes his breakfast, what he watches every Sunday, who was the first person to break his heart and what music he will play in the car. The only person who can tell what type of mood he is in just from the way he answers the phone. She is the only person who can go beyond the role of a mother-child relationship and support your son in the most intimate ways possible.

The bond between two significant others relies on a support system consisting of family and friends. But primarily it only depends on the two individuals directly involved. Time escapes generations quickly, and before you can fully realize, he will be left on his own. He will be left only with what you have chosen for him or he will be left with the ability to make the right choices on his own.

She is the only person who can go beyond the role of a mother-child relationship and support your son in the most intimate ways possible.

Pakistani women with sons: do not discriminate who your son chooses for himself based off her financial status, ethnic background or occupation. Do not feed into the culture that breeds marriages as an act of duty instead of an act of love. Do not think that your son’s marriage should be a mirror-image of your own. Do not think that your son should consider you the most important woman in the world. You are his mother. The entrance to Jannah (Heaven) for him lies beneath your feet.

But there is also a hadith that says when a husband and wife look at each other with love, Allah (SWT) looks upon them with mercy. Marriage is completing half of your faith. Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, had said, “Whoever Allah provides with a righteous wife, then Allah has assisted him in half of his religion. Let him fear Allah regarding the second half.”

Your son is his own person. He is responsible for his decisions and the choices he makes will determine the outcome for the rest of his life. Do not let your obstructed judgment mislead him.