Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 22, 2010
Karly, twenty-nine, Korean American, describes how her parents want her to marry a Korean man. She said to them “just because he is Korean, does not mean we have things in common.” Karly reports “they did not seem to understand what I was talking about. The fact that he was from a nice family, he was close to my age and he was single was all they cared about.” I said ” you mean that you don’t feel like your parents know who you are, so to them, any man from the same cultural background, from the same generation, should suit you just fine. It seems like you feel that if your parents took the time to get to know who you are as a person, they could not possibly suggest that you date this man.” Karly starts to cry. “You are sad because you so desperately want to be understood,” I say. Karly continues to cry.
I feel for Karly in that she is reflecting on the fact that throughout her childhood, she feels that her parents ignored her personality. They cared about her schooling, her clothes, her manners, but they never seemed to care about her unique qualities, such as her love for intellectual discourse. As such, they cannot imagine why she would not be interested in someone who comes from such a similar family. Her pain is palpable and understandable. Karly yearns for connection to her family of origin; the type of connection where she would understand them and they would understand her. She feels she does not have this. In this way, she feels like an orphan. She is mourning the parents that she never had. Understanding her needs; understanding how she feels her needs went ungratified is a first step. It is a tough journey. Karly is going to get through it, step by step.