Are conservative parents a threat to our mental growth?

Graphic by Jia Chen

As students, we know that strict parents are hardly uncommon. Unlike the lucky ones, we had curfews and rules, and some of us were not even allowed to leave the house. Conservative parents laid out rules for us to abide by, and their viewpoint on many important issues potentially impacted our mental growth from a very young age without us even realizing it.

I am from a small island called Mauritius, where the society I have lived in growing up does not permit children to do anything other than study and get good grades. Relationships in general were taboo, let alone a relationship between two people of the same gender.

Upon coming to Canada for further studies, I understood the importance of issues such as mental health, because I can assure you that no parent has ever heard of that back home. From a very young age, we were molded to fit the standards of a conservative society, including spending the first 25 years of our lives studying with no distractions or entertainment whatsoever, until we bag a six-figure salary. Then we marry someone of the same religion and caste with an equal or greater pay and settle down, and of course that someone must be of the opposite gender because anything else is absurd.

What we miss out on is the freedom to choose our own morals, beliefs and principles. The lack of exposure to education on the LGBTQ+ community, the Black community, mental health and racism to name a few, is astounding and quite frankly, pitiful. I am certain there are many students who have felt their mental health deteriorating from the amount of pressure they felt from their parents to be on top of their game, but were forced to brush it off. 

For an article I had to write, I needed to get some student opinions on how being part of the LGBTQ+ community impacted students’ education and career opportunities. However, I didn’t even know how to approach anyone at all because I was unaware and uneducated on the topic, since I grew up with parents who have never once tried to broach the subject since they themselves were unaware. Like many others, I have received most of my knowledge on certain social issues from the media, but we all know that as educational and informative the media can be, it can equally be as dangerous and manipulative. 

I believe that changing a person’s mindset, though not impossible, is very hard. Many of us have grown up the orthodox way, courtesy of our parents. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I’d argue that it is not a good thing either. However, I believe it is never too late to educate ourselves. 

Nowadays, more and more people are trying to become aware of everything. The children of the 2000s with conservative parents are adults now and they show no sign of suppressing their voices. Everyone is fighting for what they believe in. People are educating themselves on Black history, they are supporting and fighting for their fellow Black brothers and sisters during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, celebrating pride while they march in support of the LGBTQ+ community and fighting for human rights.

We are evolving as a society and speaking up to bring about change. Many of us grew up unaware of the sensitivity and gravity of many issues but we are ensuring that changes. We are breaking free from the shackles of an orthodox system and becoming more open-minded and non-judgemental with every passing day.

The truth is we are all unique individuals, and our entire life is a learning process. We learn new things about the world and about ourselves every single day. Mental growth is a part of this learning process. The only obstacle would be the conservative mindset of the people who tend to have a very strong hold on us— our family. In the end, everything depends on how strong we allow that hold to be when any oppressive thought or doing is concerned.