Friday, November 04, 2011

Critical parents

I got off the phone with my parents a few hours ago and their attempt at emotional blackmail is still resonating in painful waves.

My mom offered to unburden me by making my mortgage payments ... if I went to law school. I've told her for years I wasn't interested in studying law, but she's stubborn and relentless. Somehow, she can find the money to "help" me if I do what she wants, but I can continue being a "welfare queen" if I don't. (I'm on EI, I paid into the system!) Just thinking about this conversation makes me angry.

I tried to tell them that a law degree doesn't guarantee stability; there are loads of new grads waiting tables and paying off their debts in unrelated fields. But they refuse to believe me and don't have any evidence to support their stance either. They somehow think an MBA, med school, computer sciences, etc. will get me out of this rut. As if people who go to school for these programs are completely protected from the realities of the economy.

My mom wants me to be certified in something, anything. (Well, anything that will make me miserable and hate my life.) As much as everyone tells me she just doesn't want to see me suffer, I feel like she makes suggestions that have nothing to do with my personality and more to do with bragging rights. "I have a lawyer for a daughter" sounds so much better than "she's in-between jobs ... again." In fact, my parents are so embarrassed for me that my extended family don't even know I'm out of work. They like to compare me to my cousin, who "already bought a house for her family!" My dad says I'm a "zero" because I have a useless liberal arts degree, whereas my cousin studied accounting and has a cushy job in an office. OOOH! A fucking office! Let's hold a press conference!

"Your dad and I came to Canada with nothing and we didn't speak English and we still found jobs!" she told me today. I asked her if she's been completely oblivious to the news because all those riots happening around the world aren't a coincidence! "They all had their roots in youth unemployment and stagnate economies!" I yell back.

I mean, I get jealous of Chinese families who only occasionally nag. And frankly, I'd prefer passive-aggression to the near-daily onslaught of parental criticism. My other cousin says it's worse for me because I'm the first to graduate university, so my every move is subject to scrutiny. My dad's side of the family is really cool and open-minded, but they're all in Beijing. It's my Cantonese relatives, the ones who live nearby, who act like they need to compensate for being denied an education (blame the Cultural Revolution). They are complete bores and enjoy seeing me down and out.

Clearly there is only one way out: stop picking up the phone. It's reached the point where seeing my parents' names light up on my Blackberry screen gives me anxiety attacks. Every time I hear their voice, I know it's going to be another lecture and "helpful" suggestion that has the effect of making me want to slit my wrists and perform seppuku.

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