When is Enough, Enough?

Asia is considered one of the best regions in the world to be an expatriate. The cost of living is relatively low and the lifestyle often allows for certain luxuries that are out of reach in many other regions. When I first arrived and met persons who have lived here for 10, 20 or 40 years I thought they were all smoking crack or marijuana with lizard tail (if you meet a weed head from Jamaica ask them about that formula as I am not particular to weed myself). In the middle of my battle with parasites in my intestines and a distressed liver the thought of even completing our 3 year stint seemed like a task for which I should be given the Nobel prize; no better yet, I thought the Catholic church should make me a Saint. Now that I am parasite free and my liver is healthy I am loving life in Jakarta. I can now join my colleague expats and enjoy having the full entourage of maid, pool person, gardener, driver and 24 hour security guards. It is nice not having to drive myself and it is fantastic never having to worry about who is at the gate or whether we need a babysitter to go out. An added benefit is the fact that Indonesians are genuinely caring and nice people (I am tired of the word nice but have not identified anything that replaces it just right).

Whenever anyone asks what I love about Indonesia I often start with the people and their nature. I have grown accustomed to most of the local cultures and practices. (One thing I still cannot wrap my head around though, is the fact that a husband can come to the work place of his wife and command her to leave and go back to their village with no real reason outside of proving his manhood. No matter that he is unemployed or does not make enough money to feed the family. But that is not my business so I ignore it with fire burning through my nostrils).

Today’s post is not, however, about how nice Indonesians are or how much I love the lazy life that comes with being an expat in Asia. It is about the fact that as foreigners we are always called upon to respect the local culture even to our own discomfort. Anyone who knows me know that I am a big advocate of understanding and respecting differences but when is enough, enough? When are the needs of my family more important and must take precedence? When do I truly become the employer and set the rules and govern my household for all things, not just those that fit within the culture?

Let us look at a practical example: my kids have been lobbying for a pet and I won’t bore you with the tale of my being scared of dogs and them having to back me against the wall with my own words. (My 12 year old said, “Mummy how can you tell us to always face our fears but you refuse to let us have a dog because you fear them?” With that argument I shut my mouth and started searching for a dog). For a little background: Muslims consider dogs to be unclean. I understand that the real problem lies with mouth of the dog which should never touch the body of a Muslim. Due to this lack of engagement with dogs many Indonesian not only consider them unclean but are also afraid of them.

We explained the situation to the children and told them that we would get the dog if the maid and the driver agree to work in our home with the dog being present. Both staff members agreed to continue working with us and everyone was happy (except me). We started the necessary steps to finding the right dog for our girls. Low and behold I come home this evening and our daughter says that one of the guards have stated that he will leave if we get a dog. First thought in my mind is that we cannot get the dog. But after a few seconds I stop myself and think “what am I doing?” Why must my kids be punished because he makes that choice? We did not fire him. We did not ask him to do anything with the dog. 

I respect his culture but I also love my kids and respect the fact that they want a pet. Am I wrong? When is enough, enough. When do our needs trump the personal choice and culture of others? I love our guards but am I willing to crush my kids’ desire to have a pet to keep them? No, I do not think so.

What do you think?

Until next time………….One Love!!!!!!

6 thoughts on “When is Enough, Enough?

  1. I am not quite sure what to say. It’s kind of a catch 22. Can you get another guard that will work with the family, having a dog? If so go ahead, but go ahead anyway even if you don’t. The lives of our children are priceless and the stages they go through with us will be our only memories when we are old. If life allows us to live till that ripe old age, and we look back and reminisce it will be a beautiful memory of how you came saw and conquered all for the sake of those you love. Go right ahead, a guard can be replaced, our children’s childhood, never.

    • Aldith we certainly can get another guard. We really got used to this one and our youngest enjoyed him being on duty given his playful nature but I have to side with the kids on this one.

  2. There are times in life that you can’t always give your children what they want, BUT I always always always wanted a dog and am still sad to this day that my parents wouldn’t let me have one. And I know I’m not the only dog-less adult child to still be upset about something that happened years ago. I don’t know what it is about dogs and kids, but it’s a big part of being a child and slowly growing up (as you learn to care for your pet, put your needs aside, etc.)

    While I appreciate how much you respect others’ cultural beliefs, you have your home in Jakarta, and therefore have a right to exercise your cultural beliefs also (such as having a dog).

    • Noel thanks for sharing your story about not getting the dog that you wanted as a child. You are right that kids cannot always get what they want and mine certainly don’t but this is one time when their needs will trump all else.

  3. Hi there, I totally get what you are going through! We have a dog (as you can see his cute pics in my blog) but we’ve had him since we were in the Philippines. I’ve learned to love dogs since my husband had a dogs growing up. Having responsibilities with the dog I feel is why my husband is such a caring and responsible person. You and your kids will definitely benefit from having a dog!

    We brought a maid from the Philippines because we could not find a maid that would be willing to help care for our dog (he gets walked 4-5 times a day) so you are lucky that your maid and driver are okay with having him. You cannot be a slave to the demands of your guard, most especially since he actually has nothing to do with the dog. And you aren’t expecting him to touch or care for the dog. If he wants to leave because of the dog then that’s his choice. If you don’t get a dog then you will definitely resent your guard for it (it’s your home after all!).

    Is that the picture of your new dog? There are many dogs up for adoption here because owners just like the idea of a dog but then dont like taking care of them.

    • The picture is not if our dog. By next week we should have photos as we pick her up this weekend. We are actually adopting her from JAAN here in Kemang. Thank you for offering supportive words on our situation.

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