Despite living across the country from my family, I’m actually pretty lucky. I’m not as disconnected as I thought I would be. I talk to my parents regularly (without a choice, really) and, as I’ve gotten older, our conversations have transformed.
Now — instead of only lectures — my dad likes to debate and, apparently, I’ve become someone worthy of his intellect.
My dad and I have great debates because we think so differently. I listen to his advice now, but for most of my life I’ve done what I want. And, therefore, we have a different belief system.
Our most frequent debates center around my life decisions or my opinions regarding Islam and Iran.
My dad rarely talks about Iran, if ever. His childhood stories come in random spurts and when they do it’s like a glimpse into this side of him that my family and I barely recognize.
Don’t even get me started on his reaction when we discuss Islam. He just gets a scowl on his face and says, “This is a ridiculous conversation topic, Islam is ridiculous — I don’t vant to talk about it.”
I’m the opposite — I obsess about Iran. I stare at pictures all day, I talk about going back all the time, much to my dad’s dismay. And when it comes to Islam, I emphasize my opinion that people have the right to choose their beliefs.
I thought my dad’s “disdain” toward Iran was because I had chosen to focus on it so much in both my identity and in my professional goals. I thought his aversion to all things Iran really had a double meaning — and that secretly, he just didn’t support my desire to pursue any field affiliated with Iran because I would never become a doctor, lawyer or engineer.
I thought my dad was being negative and not supportive, but it didn’t take me long to realize that he thought he was protecting me.
Our (my) parents came here to live the “American Dream” — they came here for more opportunities and to provide their children with those same opportunities that weren’t offered to them when they were our age. I feel like, when I talk about wanting to go to Iran or visit new places like Egypt, my dad feels like I am keeping myself from achieving the American Dream: The promised American life without conflict or danger.
And frankly, my dad carries a lot of bitterness toward Islam, it’s what many of our parents blame for what Iran has turned into. While I think the blame should be more targeted, I get it. There’s an underlying sense of resentment.
My dad came here for equal opportunity — the ability to become successful and have access to freedom. Sometimes I think that maybe my ambitions threaten his sense of security. Like I’m about to screw myself of all the opportunities that he worked so hard to obtain for me.
Or maybe I’m just over analyzing my control freak of a dad.