The Parent Paradox
There's a blog out there where a young, formerly Orthodox, woman blogs about getting engaged to a gentile boyfriend and her family's reaction to this event. (I don't feel like linking to the blog, because the particulars of her situation are not relevant to the discussion)
As I read the discussions on her blog and several other blogs that picked up her story, I was struck by several things. There was a chorus of commenters, mainly formerly Orthodox Jews, who basically were saying "Your parents are such closeminded idiots. How can they react this way?!". I guess I was mostly amazed by their amazement. Clearly the situation of someone from an Orthodox family marrying out of the faith is not unique. You could disagree with the parents' position, but should you really be surprised by it?
But there is a bigger issue that I can't sort out which has to do with the mutual responsibilities between parents and children and the weird paradox of the parent child relationship.
A parent voluntarily accepts the responsibility of bringing a new life into the world. He is responsible for the physical wellbeing of the child, but also the rearing of a new member of society. Parents transmit their own value systems to their children, for better or for worse. And they are expected to. You teach your child what is right and wrong. You teach him how to become a member of the society you live in. Obviously it is totally unrealistic to expect a parent to allow a young child to make up their own mind about how they should grow up.
So, as a child grows up, what are his responsibilities to his parents in terms of living a certain lifestyle. On the one hand, an argument could be made that at some point, this child becomes an individual, and therefore has the right to make his own decisions about how to live their life. Yet on the other hand, is there not some sort of debt, some sort of obligation to give back to the parents for the time, the sleepless nights, the financial burden (especially in a MO world) of raising a child?
Obviously, the parents do it without expecting some kind of simplistic quid pro quo, but I think that such an expectation is not unreasonable. Take this case specifically. Clearly, living an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle is not something so unusual that you could argue it is some weird cult that people should be rescued from. So, this family raised this young woman, believing that they raised her the best way possible. They probably invested a good chunk of time, money and effort in this process only to have her say, 'Everything you believe is stupid. And if you can't accept me for who I am, then I'm outta here. I don't have any responsibilities to you!'
Somehow, it seems wrong to me. I don't know.