Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bringing up daughters

One post caught my attention recently. Reema talks about parenting and bringing up daughters. Combining anecdotes with personal experience, she paints a rather accurate picture of what exactly happens today. Thanks Reema, for being objective and analytical. I am not going to comment on parenting methods, because I am not one. I have no idea on how to bring up a child. But, I would definitely like to contribute to the discussion as a daughter.

She cites three incidents, all of them illustrating how excessive control can actually backfire. I guess I have a lot to learn from them. Reema says all there is to say about what she calls misguided discipline. I agree. But, what I have never been able to understand is why parents feel the need to do what they do. Yes, they have given birth to the children. But, the children are individuals too. They are not cattle or property that can be subjected to stupid rules that make no sense. First, and the most obvious problem is the dress code. My cousin, all of 9 years of age is not permitted to wear short skirts or tight-fitting clothes because "everything is seen." I mean, what the hell? She is all of 9 years old for heaven's sake. She is refused capris or shorts because she is a girl and cannot expose too much of her legs. She is refused plunging (or even relatively high) necklines because her slip is visible. She is made to wear clothes that look like they have been stitched in the 60s because they are the only "conservative" ones around. Imagine her plight at 18. Thankfully, I have never had to follow such ridiculous restrictions. My mother's taste in clothes have always been more modern and even bolder than mine. I am thankful to have a mother like that.

Second, the problem of guys. Not all women fall in love and get married. Even among those who do, not all run away from home. Forbidding contact with guys or threatening to lock them up hardly serves the purpose. If someone had treated me like that, I would have eloped a long time ago. Liberty brings responsibility. And children are smart enough to realise that. Unfortunately, parents seem to be too dumb to realise that their kids are smart.

And finally, one comment on the above post pointed out that parents get their daughters married off when they are still studying to avoid problems caused by a possible love affair. Someone I know is getting her daughter married. The girl is 20. She is her third year. She is getting married to a man who is 30, going on 31. The justification?

"We want to get rid of our liabilities. Plus we have a son. We need to save for his education right? What do we do for his engineering seat if we spend all our money on educating our daughter? Plus, her cousin had a love marriage. What if my daughter gets such idiotic ideas too?"

I find this attitude shocking. For me, it was a rude awakening. I had assumed that only uneducated, economically backward families behaved like this. And here we have a chartered accountant drawing a hefty salary of 8 lakhs per annum telling me that his daughter is a liability he must get rid of in order to educate his son better. What about the girl's education? He says it is not important. Because she is going to make babies and stay in the kitchen anyway. So, what's the point in sponsoring her MBA? Then is the question of love marriages. Her cousin fell in love. So? Is that a crime? I am in love too. How does that make me a bad girl? The problem is that they don't want any social criticism. Society and "people" are more important to them than their daughter. What can I say? All this makes me wonder if India has really progressed as much as we claim it has. I think not.

5 comments:

Indian Home Maker said...

Some people just don't think!! This is so shocking and sad, getting a daughter married to a man ten years older, sacrificing her career to save money for son's engineering education. Isn't the daughter their child too?

This is what I mean when I say we raise daughters only to get them married, and look after their husband's family. And son's to make careers and take care of us in their old age.

And after this we pat our own backs for our self sacrificing love and our family values.

Amrutha said...

IHM: The problem is that they think. But, they think all wrong. They refuse to consider the wishes of the girl in question. For them, it is a responsibility, a liability they must rid themselves of. The boy will take care of them eventually. The girl can go to hell. It's terrible. I just cannot reconcile to this. And she is not even a friend. Just a neighbour.

cris said...

A 20-year old friend of mine married a 33 year old, and her folks "arranged" her marriage so early because someone "predicted" if she didnt marry at 20 she will have to wait till 27. And now the husband does not want her leaving the house, to go out - with friends for a movie or a juice or anywhere that could possibly define fun for a 20 year old. And to add, he insists she wear Sari when going out with him - probably to hide the age factor, in this case the lack of it.

Destination Infinity said...

There is nothing wrong about falling in Love or Love Marriages. But there are certain things which may appear correct to us at a certain age, but would appear in-consequential at certain other age, and appear wrong at certain other age - all to the same 'us'. All we request young people is - Stay with your convictions - If you think Love marriages are the best, try preserving that attitude long after the love-marriage. Strangely, that doesn't seem to happen often. That's why, maybe, parents want to choose the groom for their daughter, which in my opinion is better than, daughter choosing the groom for herself. Life is not always a bed of roses, and our parents have seen the good and bad of the life, to make enlightened decisions, which may sometimes seem wrong to us. There are always exceptions, no doubt.

Destination Infinity

Reema said...

Hey I'm so happy to know you liked my post so much! Thanks a lot.

"What do we do for his engineering seat if we spend all our money on educating our daughter? "

OMG! Such people are insults to parenthood! They are treating daughter as a burden and not a child..someone of their own flesh and blood.