• nsughaiyer

On Eastern Parents: "We Love You, Only If You Follow What We Say!"

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

You are born.

They love you so much.

They are willing to give you everything they have.

For no return.


Your parents are your ultimate source of love in this world, right from the moment you were born, through childhood, and if you are blessed to have one or both of them around, they still are now.


In an Eastern society, that unconditional love by parents evolves rapidly as children grow up. It slowly starts to unconsciously adopt expectations and rules for it to survive (at a higher rate in an eastern than a western society).

Over time, this unconditional love evolves into…

A Conditional Love.

Conditional love is simply love with conditions. Love with expectations. Love that may not exist unless its rules are met.

Eastern parents often attach explicit rules for their grown children around big life choices: which school to go to, what to study, where to work, who to marry, which religion and practice to follow, …

They often attach unspoken rules (expectations) around basic day-to-day living choices: what to eat, when to eat, where to live, what to wear, how to speak, who to hang out with, and the list goes on…

Those rules and expectations are enforced by placing rewards and punishments for meeting or missing them.

This enforcement can vary from one Eastern parent to another, and can range from kind, implicit, and gentle ask, to fierce, explicit and violent suppression.

As for us, their grown children, we need to be loved. We look forward to be seen. We want to be validated. So, we try our best to follow as many of those rules and meet as many of those expectations as we can.

This can become an overwhelming and endless pursuit of love.

The reality is…

In conditional love, we often equate love with approval.

Love is approval and approval is love.

“If you really love your parents, you follow what they say.”

“If you follow everything your parents say, you really love them.”

And so, love for us and for our parents evidently becomes that never-ending, approval-based love cycle. A transaction on loop whereby both parties, parents and children, are continuously negotiating an exchange of emotions and attention.

It is easy to get frustrated about being stuck in this loop and trying to change what feels like impossible to influence or change.

I realized that the best way to navigate this complicated situation is to compassionately understand our minds and our parents’ minds. One great way is to separate thoughts and beliefs from people and embody them separately in a single-line programming code.

For an Eastern parent, their love program code looks like this:

IF (Children’s Actions = Parents Expectations, “All Good”, “Disapproval”)

As for children’s code, it more or less looks like this:

IF (Parents Response = Approval, “I’m Loved”, “Not Loved”)

I think once in a while, it’s helpful to surrender and accept unchangeable realities as they are. The more you resist frustrating realities, the more they persist and the more you become frustrated.

Those realities and beliefs have existed and been carried over generation for a very good reason. They served our parents in surviving life while navigating their unstable, war-filled, immigrant, unsafe and unsecure lives.

This program code in their mind was also passed over as an inheritance from their parents, our grandparents. They are trying to be good parents by following the only model of parenting they witnessed.

To attempt to change or remove this code in your parents’ minds, is to threaten their safety and security (and yours too), and to make them look like bad parents.

And so, I’ve given up long time ago on trying to change unchangeable hard-coded programs and beliefs of others.

I now preach youth in Arab and Eastern society to stop resisting and start adopting a more compassionate, understanding and loving view of parents.

Start by loving your parents for who they are.

Know that their love for you may look conditional through their actions and words.

But deep down in reality, their love is unconditional.

You cannot access love if you hate not receiving enough of it from your parents...


You access love by acknowledging its existence within your broken heart, unfulfilled dreams, and unlived lives.

You access love by accepting the conditions of our Eastern society and working your way from there.

You access love by feeling your frustrations and loving them.

You access love by loving yourself.

You access love by sharing it with others.

Yours in Magic,


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