No prizes for guessing the theme!
It used to be the case that there was a conflict, a ‘us v them’ relationship with our parents and us – they, the first generation who settled here in the 70s and 80s, and us, the second generation who were British-born and Asian who had to balance religion and culture with being in the West. I know of course that everyone’s experiences are different, and as a child of first-generation immigrant parents, I have certainly had my own experiences and conflicts with my parents. I do find it interesting that my elder sisters’ and brother’s experiences in the 90s slightly differs from mine – they were the earlier, ‘first’ generation who forged the way, while we followed behind. I also have a lot of friends who are in fact third-generation children, whose experiences are certainly very different although not without their own struggles.
These days it feels like the balance has shifted – our parents have mellowed out and are trying to be more understanding. I won’t say the days of emotional blackmail, culture clashing and Asian dramas (wedding traditions, anyone?) are over but this has definitely changed and evolved over the last decade or so. I think that a lot of the first-generation parents are beginning to understand that they cannot just force their children to follow a route that they think if right for them, especially as we are becoming more independent, more integrated and as we settle into our marriages, careers and parenthoods.
As these second-generations (and even some third-generations!) are beginning to or already have become parents themselves, I think a lot of them understand better the struggles that come with being a Muslim parent, especially when you have your own culture, British culture, religion and your own personal values to add to the mix. Ironically, I feel like there is beginning to be a gap between these parents and their children, who are definitely becoming part of the emerging middle-class Muslims, whose parents are determined to make the most of their education, lifestyle and social opportunities.
As someone who isn’t a parent yet, I was a little hesitant about adding my piece to this. But then I realised that my view, while it may not be the same as everyone’s, is still a voice to add to the conversation about the generation gap. I’ve been thinking about this for a while for several reasons – partly because a lot of friends and sisters of mine who are parents, have noted that bringing up their own children is a huge difference compared to their own upbringing, which has naturally brought to mind my own values and plans for bringing up children, as well as my own relationship with my parents.
I come across it every now and then – in my nieces and nephews, in my friend’s and sister’s children, and even when I meet young girls, younger bloggers and even younger people in my job who have a different mind-set to the ones we had as we had at their age. Those kids are fully immersed in society, with less identity conflicts about whether they’re from the West or the East, confident in their religion rather than being hindered by culture, with the knowledge that they have every right to education and a career. In contrast, it feels a little like my generation precariously fumbled our way through into jobs we weren’t sure of, studying as far as we could afford – I myself have always wanted to do a Masters and Doctorate, but couldn’t afford to after I finished university and went straight into work.
It brings me to mind a book I read when I was younger by one of my favourite authors – one of the things the young hero in the tale bemoans is the fact that all the adults he comes across constantly expect him to be grateful, that he is should know how lucky he is, but instead feels like the emotion is being forced on him. I think of this because sometimes when I speak to the younger generation in my family, or when I speak to younger girls who complain about the banes of their lives, I try to explain to them that they don’t realise how lucky they are, that it could be worse, and that we older generations did in fact have it worse. Unfortunately, most of them don’t seem very impressed when I tell them that and usually retort that actually, they have it worse because they have XYZ problems that we never did.
And you know what? They’re right, in a way. They do have problems that we never did – I’m constantly thankful that social media, makeup, designer brands and technology weren’t a big thing when I was a teenager the way it is now, the constant influence and distractions it would have had on my education, my social life and definitely my self-image, which means I would be a different person with Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Periscope at 13. There’s so many things that children these days, and young adults too, have to learn which we didn’t. My generation raves over Panda Pops, 5p ice-poles and 1p pick-n-mix sweets, Friends on Channel 4 on Friday nights, brown lipstick (with the dark brown lip liner outline) and family holidays ‘back home’. Meanwhile the newer generation have smartphones, iPads, Adventure Time, holidays in Dubai and Morrocco, global warning awareness, and River Island handbags and sushi for lunch. It’s easy to call them spoiled, and it is the case that they may have more opportunities, but they also have just as many challenges which are easier to ignore by us.
Just as our parents needled us about being grateful for opportunities (studying further in school, having a job, buying a new pair of shoes), it seems like the younger generation sometimes get the same thing from us. While my parents drilled into us the importance of marriage, good jobs and keeping good relations with our relatives both in Britain and back home, the younger generations have their own issues too – balancing friends and social lives with building careers, education, social media issues, even spending on luxuries. That’s not to say we didn’t do the same thing, looking back, it feels like everything was less overwhelming and busy – to sound like an old fogey, things just seemed simpler back then.
I‘ve also noticed a big difference when we had to deal with, and when the younger generations have had to deal with and differentiate between following religion and culture. My siblings and I were lucky enough to have parents who didn’t force too much culture down our throats, or follow traditions which didn’t align with our religion. A lot of the silly things that come with culture I was pretty unaware of until I got older, because my father emphasised the importance of religion with us, and my mother never forced us to do anything we didn’t want to do because she always wanted her children to be happy. This meant that while we have the still had pressure on us to study until a certain age, marry ‘suitable’ people and follow certain social guidelines (eg. curfew and going out), we still didn’t have it as bad as a lot of others that we know.
I think because of this, the British-Asian parents of today have recognised the importance of having awareness and choices in their children’s lives – such as choosing a partner, jobs, and following religion without all the hindrances of culture. We know the right things to do to help our children and push them, and we also get to choose the good parts about culture – knowing our roots and traditions without letting these dictate our lives. The younger generation now are able to understand current affairs, be more involved with their society and communities, and look towards bigger things even if their parents couldn’t.
I don’t think there is a real right or wrong way to deal with the conflicts with our parents – as I have gotten older I have appreciated more the things my own parents have taught me, and really am grateful. I was fairly lucky because I was pretty sheltered as a child, so I didn’t have a lot of the problems that some of my friends had, although I will admit, I did resent feeling that I also missed out on things, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m sure it’s pretty universal that parents always want for their children what they never had, our parents wanted success, happy marriages and financial stability for us where it was a struggle for them, and we want happy lives, careers and identities for our own children. I don’t mean to belittle the struggle our parents had – they came to Britain as youngsters themselves and struggled to maintain their culture, faith and way of living, and they constantly worried that their children would lose their roots. Meanwhile, although the later generations have less of guilt about being Westernised, there’s still that worry that they may be too influenced by things which their parents disagree with – whether it’s being a One Direction fan or being okay with belly button piercings.
I guess we can only do what we can, which is our very best. Most of the friends, sisters and brothers I know are excellent role models, and although they may find it difficult sometimes, they are able to encourage their children without pushing them, praise them and give them the knowledge and confidence to go out and do their best.
I only hope that I can do as well as that : )
I recently posted about some upcoming events happening in London as part of Find your London Festival, so made sure I kept an eye out for local events that I could attend. This weekend saw the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Valentines Mansion and Garden, which was a really fun even put together for the kids to enjoy (and the adults!).
I’m a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (you can see the pictures from my own tea party for evidence!) and I always love seeing different takes on the idea of a quirky tea party. I love the idea of doing a tea party in the park, and what better time than spring?
My sisters and I took along my nieces and nephews to enjoy the fun, and were able to walk around inside the mansions and have a look at the historical site inside. The Tea Party was organised next to the mansion in the gardens which had plenty of games, activities and equipment for the children, which we all managed to make good use of – I also loved the fact that there were plenty of people in costume!
One of the highlights of the Tea Party was the entrance of the Queen of Hearts, who told us we were very lucky to see her and that everything was “Marvellous!”, following with a parade with the White Rabbit and the Card Men, complete with pink flamingos!
My favourite thing was probably this oversized Mad Hatter’s Top Hat, which we all took turns to sit on (and which didn’t collapse surprisingly), which was laid out for us to look at next to a giant plate of (foam) biscuits and some giant playing cards scattered around, as well as some very misleading direction signs!
There were plenty of games which my younger nieces ran off to enjoy, which I thought were a great idea for kids to do in a park – I especially liked the fact that there was a croquet set!
I also loved the random small touches laid out – oversized teacups, several top hats, a few Alices wandering around and plenty of flowers, cards and Chesire Cats, which really made the whole thing feel much more fun.
The Mad Hatter’s Party was a fun day out (including the bit where the Queen made all of the children hold hands to make ‘hoop’s while the smaller children were hedgehogs who ran through them, croquet-style!) and it’s great to see something like this organised for free somewhere local. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more things like this for the Easter Holidays which make a great distraction and let us enjoy the local park.
I held a tea party for my sisters this weekend, and I’ve finally manage to sit down (and rest!) to post the results, which I was really pleased with. My sisters and I decided that for Eid this year, instead of giving everyone Eid presents we’d do Eid experiences – a day out, a picnic, a tea. I love my afternoon teas so decided to organise a themed afternoon tea for the girls.
I had a little difficulty deciding on a theme because I liked so many, and initially was going to just do a Mad Hatter’s tea party. But I do love my florals and we all love books, so I decided to work these into the look as well, which worked a lot better than I thought it would – I was worried it would look really messy and nonsensical. My eldest sister commented that it also reminded her of a colourful fair or festival, especially with the colourful bunting, and thankfully the guests all loved the results of the tea!
Here’s what the table looked like, and some of the desserts:
My favourite part of the decor and table were these – book-themed toppers for the cupcakes. I picked out a bunch of our childhood books so that we could enjoy a few fond memories of the books we used to love (including our first Urdu learning book!) – these were a hit with the ladies and I was glad I included these!
I had various things scattered around the room for display to implement all three themes – pastels and florals, book wallpapers, piles of books and a top hat with playing cards to tie the themes together, which I thought went wonderfully together, not to mention the ‘this way’, ‘that way’ and ‘wrong way’ arrows.
I’m sure you can tell that the most obvious theme was the Mad Hatter/Wonderland one – I loved the variety of decor which is out there and took the opportunity to scatter random quotes and prints around the table, as well as ‘drink me’, ‘eat me’ and ‘take me’ tags on the food and goody bags. I also ordered giant playing cards for us to play with, although it was quite funny to see how people would hide their cards!
My mum also lent me this beautiful tea set which was love at first sight for me, and very apt because it’s actually a Harlequin Tea Set! These were beautiful dainty tea cups in bright colours with matching sauces, which I put on display and thought really made the whole table (not to mention actually made the tea party an actual tea party!)
My nieces and nephews probably enjoyed themselves the most (you can see my nieces shouting and giggling through my letterbox below), although my sisters and sister-in-law had a lot of fun looking for the small touches around the room too, and putting on false moustaches, giant glasses and hats!
I was really worried about not having enough food on the day, so my menu was a little adventurous, surprisingly I managed to make more than I thought. Even better, the guests all brought some amazing food as well so we were all seriously stuffed and from red velvet cake, cupcakes, chocolate trifle, sandwiches, pizza, samosas, chicken bites and kebabs, to name but a few of the things we had laid out.
Having said that, my nieces were the first to run to the sweet table and run off giggling with sweets in their hands!
It was an exhausting but fun afternoon, which was made better by the scorching sunny afternoon and the yummy ice-creams we finished off with. We were meant to play games but we felt pretty lazy and the cushions on the floor were pretty useful for us to laze about in!
It was really fun (and a little challenging) planning this tea party by myself, but I had fun doing it and also learned what I can make and what I can’t. I was really happy with the decorations I made, they took me a while (hence being quiet on the blogging front!) but I was really pleased with how it all came together.
So now I’m looking forward to the next Eid experience, and also more tea parties with different themes, which I’m already planning – I just need to recover from this one and I’ll be off again!
We had a lovely Eid weekend (which was a 3 day affair for me) starting with dinner at the sisters, then dinner at my mum’s, and ending with an Eid Fair at a local park (with lots of screaming on the rides!). Here’s a few shots of what we did this Eid, you can see a little more here as well, but the general theme was lots of good food, energetic toddlers and yummy cupcakes!
Here’s one of the highlights on my weekend, this picture. My niece had a birthday party today and invited friends and cousins to come play and eat cake. Not everyone could wait for the cake to be cut though…
We celebrated Eid-al-Adha this weekend, which was a special Eid for me as it was the first one for me after marriage, and meant that I could spend time with the family and also with my husband. We were invited to dinner at my eldest sister’s house, and also for lunch at my mum’s house the next day, so we had a busy dance card!
One of the best things about celebrating Eid is that it’s always a fun day, the family gets together from all over London (and Luton!) and there’s always good food. I love the spirit in the air as well, the younger children are excited about presents, sweets and new clothes, and the bigger kids (i.e. us) are excited about dressing up, good food and seeing all the babies!
Below is just some of the decor from my sister‘s house, which she always makes an effort to put up every year for Eid – I love the fairy lights and the rainbow balloons!
The highlight of the day as usual was the beautifully cooked food, from both my mum and my sister (my husband left both houses rubbing his stomach and eyeing up more helpings he couldn’t fit into his stomach!) My mum makes it a rule to always have a feast for Eid every year, and she didn’t disappoint this year either – there was plenty of variety and plenty of curries, starters and sweet dishes!
And of course, for Eid isn’t complete without some beautiful dresses, which I was spoiled with this year, as my mother-in-law sent me a beautiful set of outfits and my mum bought me a new outfit for Eid. My sisters and sister-in-law looked amazing on the day with their new outfits, and the nieces even more adorable in their party dresses which they spend the day twirling around in (I won’t bother mentioning the dress code of men of the family cos…frankly, we don’t look at what they wear) Here’s a look at some of the beautiful outfits we wore on Eid:
My husband and I ended Eid day with dinner at his best friend’s house, followed by a sneaky late-night movie at the local cinema (which was actually very good!) The whole day was a warm, low-key gathering which was perfect for us, easy to relax followed by a vain session of taking photos in various angles!
I hope you all had a wonderful Eid and weekend, and if you don’t celebrate Eid then I hope you still see the beauty I do in Eid – not only an opportunity to spend time with friends, family and have good food, but also a chance to reflect on the year to come and to remember how lucky we are.
Eid has come after a month of fasting, which admittedly was a lot more tiring than we all realised. But at the end of it all, we are sad to see it go, as so many things are happening around the world which has put a lot of things into perspective for us.
I completely forgot to take any pictures of food for once, it was too busy going into my mouth rather than being captured by my lens, but be assured that it was good food, with good company!
Here’s a few snaps of our days, we had babies running around looking cute and mischievous, lots of amazing food, a bbq out in the garden and as always, lots of laughs and gossip.
Hope your Eid was a nice as ours, I wish I had more pictures to share!