An Open Letter to Sri Lankan Parents

An Open Letter to Sri Lankan Parents

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” – Kahlil Gibran

Dear mum and dad,

It’s 5.45 AM and I’m on a wooden canoe in Pottuvil. I’m with my partner, the boy whom you didn’t like at first because he was Tamil. We are guided by a local fishmonger to see a crocodile. Momma, Suddenly I remember that you didn’t let me hop on a boat when I was 20. “Don’t risk your life,” you told me as I enviously looked at a group of boys on a boat in Lake Gregory in one chilly December evening.

Also read: Five ways to be a sustainable traveller in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Momma, the day after I paddled around Kottukal Lagoon and saw a crocodile who in fact charged towards us, I woke up in my little wooden cabana by the beach. I was alive, momma. The open wooden canoe didn’t kill me. It’s 5.30 AM. The eastern sun rose for yet another day. I ran to the beach with Nathan. I saw life.

Dad, remember the day you came with me to Colombo because you thought “The Oval” wasn’t safe for a girl to watch a cricket match alone. At the gate, I told you it’ll be fine. I told you that I’ll be fine. Thank you for leaving me at the cricket alone. I learnt to love the ivy-covered scoreboard even though Younis Khan didn’t score a 100 in his 100th Test match.

Solo Female Travel Sri Lanka
Sometimes you find happiness in everyday things, like palm trees, like the sea.


I lied. I lied to you when I told you I was going to stay at a friend’s house. I slept in a backpack hostel. I made new friends from different corners of the world. Momma, hostel towels are fine to use. They don’t give you STDs. At the same hostel, I met Nathan. I found love. I climbed waterfalls you told me not to. I slept in an open tree house in the middle of the jungle. I sat by the train door till I reached a quaint mountain town called Heel Oya.

Momma, it’s me. Dad, it’s me. I’m alive!

You almost disowned me when I left state uni. Two years later, you still praise your colleague’s daughter. She’s 26 at med school with 2 years left to be completed. Years younger to her, I’m independent. I earn my own food. I pay my uni fees. Momma, why is that you never praise me, but her? Why is English Literature so poor to you, but not chemistry?

Travel Girl Alone Sri Lanka
Playing with colours at UTMT, a quirky, beachside resort in Dikwella.


Mum, dad,

Let your kids travel. Let them spread their wings and explore little corners of this big, beautiful world. Let them get lost in a commuter train. Let them find their way to a top of a mountain with their friends. They are 18. They are 19. They are 24. They are 28. Let them find the bliss in their life. Isn’t it selfish? Isn’t it selfish that you’re forcing your daughter to get married? She’s 26. Maybe she wants to feel the powdery sand beneath her feet on a Northern beach. Do you ever listen to him? Your son. He told you he liked art. You put him in engineering school instead.

Also read: How we find time to travel with our day jobs.

Mum, dad, let your son make a mistake. Let your daughter be a dreamer. Let them find their happiness. Let them be free. Dear momma, the same blood runs in our veins no matter what religion we are ascribed to at our birth. Dad, let your kids define their own love. The life is to explore. The life is to love. The life is to do new things, fail, and learn from our mistakes.

The life is to live.

9 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Sri Lankan Parents”

  • Such a nice letter and I really have a good time reading this. I understand that parents are so protective to their children but sometimes they are some parents are over protective and it came to the point not allowing their children to live in their own or exploring things in their own way.

  • Sadly, most parents have a difficult time letting go. However, in my experience, they eventually do, and one of these days they will show how proud they are of you publicly.

  • The quote you opened with was told to me once about my own sons. Still young, but I was amazed by their individual emerging personalities, but at the same time frustrated since I didn’t know what to do to parent two different kids. Someone said “they don’t come from you, they come through you,” and it was such a profound message to me that I could not dictate who they would be, but I could be a guide in their journey. I hope this communication of yours helps your parents see the same.

  • This is absolutely beautiful. As a daughter who has sought her own path and taken the road not journeyed by family before me…. This is beautiful. And speaks deeply to my soul. Thank you dear one for sharing your tender heart.

  • Parents ( which includes me) should to let go at the right time. It’s never easy but the children need to learn certain things on their own. All they need is our guidance.

  • I wish more parents would allow their kids to just be and do what they like … kids are not an extension to their parents, as assumed by most asian families.


  • That’s almost heartbreaking to read! I could kinda relate, as my parents, too, disapproved of me constantly traveling and not settling down to get married and sticking with a white collar job. As long as you do you – your happiness is what matters in the end!

  • Amazing, I love this letter. It’s exactly as you mentioned, nowadays (or all the time) parents force their ideals on the kids. But it isn’t right, the kids should develope their own minds and ideals! Great text!

  • This is such a heart felt letter, I think many parents have a tough time letting their little ones grow up, its the hardest thing to do.

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