Under Pressure

Twice in the past three days [1] a specific context has happened in the course of conversations I have been in, and as this context is a very specific one, I do not consider it to be accidental. In order to explain this context, and why it has appeared so often, and why it strikes me as a particularly ironic context in timing and in involving me, I suppose I have some explaining to do. When I was teaching in Thailand, the vast majority of the discipline that had to be meted out involved one specific and lamentably common sort of experience. Our students had their own goals and they desired to be educated and to learn English, and had strong cultural tendencies from society leading them to respect teachers (which I had no problem with, as I have never minded those cultural tendencies that have led me to be respected more). On the other hand, there were strong cultural factors that led them to respect their parents, who often wanted to profit in the short-term off of factory labor and did not like the uncertain benefits of higher education, wanting money now. The resulting pressure between the two would lead the students to act out, which would lead to punishment and not infrequently to several years of grim work under unpleasant and dangerous conditions [2].

There are some ironies about this. For one, normally, it is parents who are supposed to have the long-term interests of their children in mind and children that are supposed to act for short-term interests like unsuitable romantic partners and parties and the like. In the case of many of my students, many of them had much more sound long-term plans than their parents, and yet loyalty to parents, even parents who sold their children into prostitution [3] or labor from which they would profit (but not their children), was so paramount that it overwhelmed any thought of what was good for the young people themselves. Another irony, at least in the eyes of some, would be that I would be both immensely empathetic about the struggle and impossible pressure that these young people felt under, and that I would also be greatly concerned about the well-being and interests of the young people themselves, as clumsily and awkwardly as this concern tends to be demonstrated. At any rate, it was frustrating to me that parents were so insistent on seeking to maintain control over the labor of their children long after their children became legal adults, and also that the young people themselves were so unable to communicate the pressure that they felt, or assumed that everyone was trying to pressure them and that no one was paying attention to their own interests.

Sadly, this is not a situation that is limited to Thailand. To be sure, parents do have a great deal of authority over their underage children. And also to be sure, there are cases where parents seek to protect their children from threats and dangers that young people themselves may not feel concerned about. Children are worthy of protection, and also guidance to become competent individuals on their own, as the role of parenting is not to train codependency but to provide young people with the tools and resources to be successful and to spread the example of a successful family and good behavior in their own lives and (God willing) to start their own families and raise them in a godly way. Part of this means that parents and the young people they are raising who are approaching adulthood are engaged in a delicate dance full of difficulty on both sides. It is in the best interests of young people to learn wisdom and discretion in their conduct as early as possible, because parents are far more likely to grant additional freedom to young people who have shown the capacity to handle it well. Likewise, given the fact that parents lose any legal rights over their children at the age of 18, parents have a strong incentive to teach their children as best as possible to behave wisely without antagonizing them into anything rash or foolish, because the more intolerable a situation a young people feels he or she is under, the stronger the temptation will be to escape as far and as decisively and as early as possible. Naturally, this can lead to a lot of foolish, rash, and very serious decisions.

I have lived my life under a fair amount of internal and external pressure, and I have probably not handled the stresses of life in an ideal way to lead to my own happiness and peace of mind. That said, I absolutely hate putting other people under pressure merely to gratify my own wishes. Given my own native biases and perspective, I seek to encourage the best interests of those people I know, and I would hope that they would seek after my own best interests, at least as best as they understood them. We can all stand to have encouragement to do the right thing, and the best thing, not necessarily because it serves the interests of the person giving the encouragement, but because it makes us happy when our friends and family are successful at life and love. At least I feel happy when I can help to improve the lives of others as its own motivation, apart from any other interests. I know plenty of young people who feel under the same pressure between their own dreams and the pressure that they receive from peers, parents, and others about what they should be doing. To the extent that I have contributed to such pressure, I am deeply unhappy about it, and wish I could do something to convey not only my concern but also my disinclination to pressure others to do anything, but rather my interest in encouraging the better angels of my own nature [4] and that of others. Anything more than that is simply an unexpected blessing.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/a-walk-in-the-park/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/youre-never-too-young-to-have-girl-problems/

[2] http://spreadtheflame.com/2011/09/thailands-meth-epidemic-yaa-baa/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/lest-the-land-fall-into-harlotry/

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/the-better-angels-of-our-natures/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Under Pressure

  1. Pingback: Roll With It | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Goodness Is Something You Don’t Have To Chase, ‘Cause It’s Following You | Edge Induced Cohesion

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