While chatting with a dear friend, a topic came up that made me think more deeply into it.
Support vs approval.
Most of the time, it’s natural to think that one means the other. If you support something, that would almost always mean you also approve of it, and vice versa. It seems difficult to imagine supporting something while disapproving of it at the same time.
However, I realized that such cases do exist. I saw an example almost instantly in my own life.
My dad deeply disapproves of me moving to Japan.
He belongs to the generation who believes that there is no better country than your own. He went on and on about how he cannot understand why I would want to leave Singapore and gave a thousand reasons why Japan will never be as good as Singapore. All the while, he was sighing and shaking his head gravely as if I just told him I wanted to leap over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
He even said “There’s CPF in Singapore!” (at which I took a deep breath and exerted every ounce of willpower I possessed from making make a snarky retort)
From experience honed over the years of squabbling with him, fighting him tooth and nail every step of the way growing up, I’m now wise enough to know that the smartest thing I can do is to keep my silence and simply hear him out, no matter how badly I disagreed or wanted to argue back.
It’s not that he doesn’t love me. On the contrary, it’s precisely because of his love for me that he’s nagging me till no end. And this overflowing love and concern needed an outlet for venting.
After he exhausted himself (which was several days later), I asked him, “But will you be happy for me?”
After a moment of pause, he replied (albeit with visible struggle) “Yeah, of course I will be.”
I didn’t doubt for a second the truth of his words. My dad wouldn’t patronize me. He wouldn’t ever bother. He would readily give me a piece of his mind (and then some) exactly as it is – no sugarcoating, no dressing it up.
So despite the harsh tone and words, in the end what he supports is my happiness, even if he may not approve of what I’m doing.
I guess most parents are like that with their children?
I never really thought about this issue before and felt pretty enlightened at this revelation of how support != approval (er, != is not equals. #remnantsofprogramming) that I had to blog this down :)
Support and approval do not mean the same thing.