To Be Strict or Not To Be Strict!

As I was thinking about my relationship with my parents, I thought of the famous quote from Hamlet, ” To be or Not to be”.  Yes, I have modified the quotation to fit my rambling.  My cousins, friends, and sisters have always adamantly believe that our parents were too strict with us when we were growing up.  To this day, we still cling to that belief like a lifeboat and we are not going to let it go anytime soon! Especially us the ones in our thirties, who were raised in a typical traditional Laotian household. I think it was worse growing up as a young Laotian Lao girl!  For example, we were not allow to have a boyfriend even if we were eighteen! Ages doesn’t matter in our household when it came to dating because your parents’ word was the law!  Breaking that law to us was worse than breaking any rules that govern society. Yes, I have to admit many of us  broke that rule by having boyfriends anyway!  However, we did not even enjoy having boyfriends because we were petrified of being  seen  talking to them, much less doing anything embarrassing.  This ever present fear, kept us physically distant from our boyfriends!  Either I am getting too old or I am too old fashion, but I think some young Laotian girls have way too much freedom when it comes to dating.  They pretty much can and do whatever they want without fear of reprisal!  Do you think parents should be stricter or not when it comes to their daughters?


4 thoughts on “To Be Strict or Not To Be Strict!

  1. Discipline with purpose teaches character. Discipline without purpose teaches cruelty.

    Freedom cannot exist without love, nor can love exist without freedom, in every sense.

    To grow, to live, to be fully human and to reach our fullest potential, we must learn to live within rules, but also to become free thinkers, free spirits who know enough WHEN to violate those rules.

    This is at once a simple and complicated lesson.

    Perhaps the easiest way to show an example is in the film Pan’s Labyrinth, in which the main character, a young girl, is given three taks before she can return to her ‘destiny’:

    In the first task, she obeys the rules, and she is able to go on to the next stage.

    But in the second task, she disobeys the rules and forfeits her opportunity.

    As always occurs in such stories, she is given a second chance, but the third task is to do something monstrous.

    One would think that because she wants the reward so much, she would do it, because she nearly lost her opportunity by being disobedient during the second task.

    But in actuality, and this is part of growing up, and becoming human, becoming an adult, she has to recognize when there is a right time to disobey orders.

    In this case, when asked to do something monstrous and evil.

    Had she ‘learned’ from the second task to unquestioningly obey orders every time, she would have failed her final task.

    It presents an interesting point of meditation for us.

    The old maxim goes: Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.


    But back to the point regarding the freedom of women dating.

    The problem is rarely about too much freedom, but how one chooses to exercise that freedom.

    The problem is not that they are free, but that when they are enjoying their freedom, they choose to compromise themselves.

    And we should be concerned not for our sake, but for their sake and the long-term consequences this has on how they relate to others.

    There is a factor of trust, and how we teach trust and self-respect to young women.

    Over time, if we fail to teach self-respect there is the very real possibility they will seek approval through self-degredation that is a problem.

    Why? Because our daughters then gain nothing. Who wins? Only the predators who convince the young women that loose behavior earns ‘respect’ (when those predators rarely have the social standing or assets to make their respect worth anything of any lasting meaning.)


    Machiavelli once suggested that it is better for a ruler to be feared than to be loved. To raise a family within love is more challenging. Fear, anger, hate, these are the easy route to raising families, building societies.

    It is effective in the short term, but do we truly believe we create better people for teaching them obedience not from love of the state or the family, but from fear of being punished?

    Yes, on the surface you get similar results, but in my experience and from what I’ve observed, over the long run, structure from fear rarely ends well for anyone, either as a family or a society.


    Cage a bird too tightly, it might never return home when the door is opened.

    Conversely, leave the bars too wide in a cage, and they can’t tell the difference between a home and the rest of the world.

    But some interesting things to consider.

  2. karmadiva

    I love Pan’s Labyrinth and yes it is a thought provoking movie. I agree that there is an important lesson to be learned from that story. Even though there were rules that the little girl had to follow, she in the end realizes that she was in control of her own destiny. She was able to make the right choice because she had a strong sense of morals and value. She knew it was wrong to kill no matter what the reason or circumstances. She along with the rest of us have FREE WILL. When we are given so much freedom, we can still make the right choice if we have self-respect, self-value, and self-control. Young ladies these days must learn to treasure all three. These traits can be learned if it is taught the correct way.

  3. Sou

    Like Brian said, discipline without purpose is cruelty. For me growing up in a traditional Laotian home I often felt like my parents were being cruel because of their strictness. I felt like I was the only one out of the four Laotian girls I grew up with who was treated with such strictness as karmadiva had described. It was very hard to deal with, to see fellow Laotian girls exert the freedom that I wanted, to try to fit in and yet obey my parents too. I often got the “I feel sorry for you” looks, but I acted like I didn’t care and going out to parties was not something I wanted to do anyways. I was able to experience some of the things my friends were doing, but only through lies and deceit and it was still never enough. But it was enough to feel not completely clueless about what going on around me. I do feel that if my parents had given me the freedom I had desired in high school it would not have changed who I am today. Because I do feel that the values and morals they were so desperately trying to instill in me did. Looking back now I don’t feel like my parents were being cruel at all. They were raising children they only way they knew how, the way they were raised, the way it is in Laos. Even though they have lived in the states for over 25 years they still do not agree or understand every American practice.
    So as I parent my own daughter I get conflicted on how strict I should be. Even though I was raised in a traditional Laotian home I am also familiar with most American practice. I get filled with the same fears my parents had for me and yet I remember the resentment I had towards the strictness. So I just have to keep in mind that if my parents had given me the freedom I wanted and I would of came out the same person I am now, why wouldn’t she. I just have to try my best to correctly teach her the right morals, values, and self-respect, so that it can guide her and I can trust her because of that.

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