An update: “My friend is having the baby because her mother absolutely refused to support her decision to abort.”

Sharing this update from the email writer who wrote:

An email: “She is considering having an abortion without telling her husband about it.”

Hello Maam,

First I apologise for such a delayed response as I was caught up in some unavoidable engagements and was out of town.

I don’t have words to express myself looking at the overwhelming response to the problem you shared on your blog. It was heartening to read such sensible suggestions from your readers. Thank you so much for the help.

I want to tell you that my friend whose problem I shared has decided to have the baby. I talked to her after I returned and brought up the topic when she told me she’ll be taking a break from work. I was puzzled by her decision as just a few days back, she was even considering leaving the marriage. The reason for this change as she told me was that her mother refused to support her decision to abort and that both her parents were absolutely against her separating from her husband. As I’ve known her parents, they are the type who hold their son in law in utmost respect. But in the end it is her decision and her life.

Thank you again.

I think it would be fair if people who took time to give their suggestions to the problem get to know the decision which my friend took.

IHM: Are you surprised by the parents refusal to  support their daughter? What do you think should (or could) they have done?

Please do read, The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

Related Posts:

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?
Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.
“I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”
Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.
An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?
Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…
…for the welfare of women certain customs were formulated
Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.
Paraya dhan and her limited rights.
How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?
When she says she no longer wishes to stay with him, why isn’t her word enough?

89 thoughts on “An update: “My friend is having the baby because her mother absolutely refused to support her decision to abort.”

  1. I don’t know if its fair… but the parents didn’t tell her to not abort… they just refused to support her decision to abort… Its their call… they think she should not abort… and that if she aborts she has to fend for herself… I think its upto them… I cant expect others to believe in what I believe.

    Now if a girl married read Adult and working read financially self reliant… does not heed her own beliefs and stands by her own decisions I guess its herself to fault… we cant always expect the world to be ideal to us… we have to fight our own battles

  2. Surprised by the parents’ decision? No, not at all.

    And unable and unwilling to speculate if their stance is because of societal norms and expectations or because they genuinely believe that staying in this marriage is in her best interest. I don’t know enough about any of the major dramatis personae, y’see, and the available facts are open to multiple interpretations.

    All I can say for certain is that the young lady in question obviously wasn’t convinced enough of her own stance to stick to it. I hope it all works out well for her and everyone else involved.

  3. I am not at all surprised by the parent’s decision. It is sad, but it is the truth about most of the Indian parents.They would want their daughters to ‘adjust’ and stay in the marriage than break it and loss family’s ‘honour’ in the society. They might have supported her if she was asking for divorce because her husband physically abused her but not in this case, because the parents themselves believe that child is more important than career for a girl, irrespective of the son-in law’s stand, as the society has still not changed on the belief that the ultimate aim of a girl’s life is to get married and bear children. So they would convince her to have the child.
    And in some cases people are against abortion because they are against killing a life, so the husband’s and parent’s stand could be because of this also and not because of any of the social ‘norms’.
    And it is also not easy for a girl in the current Indian society to stay single, divorced and without even her own parent’s support, how much ever financially self reliant she is. She becomes target of the society’s ridicule.A girl who is groomed from her childhood to live by the norms set by the society, may grow up and have the courage to consider career over child but may not have enough courage to live independently, shunned by her own parents and relatives. It might be because of this or for the love of her parents whom she would not want to lose that she decided to listen to them. So you cannot blame her for her final decision.
    The need of the hour is that she and many more women get the courage to break these norms and live their life as per their choice or rather a change in the mindset of the society, so that woman having a say in their own life does not become a matter of a woman’s courage but an accepted truth.
    I am positive the change is coming though gradually, I can see it in Arya, Amrita mohan ( http://gulfnews.com/news/world/india/kerala-girl-stands-up-to-sexual-abuse-1.1146975 ) , one billion rising…

    • Parents not supporting their daughter’s decision to abort:
      what kind of heartless, pathetic, backward, society fearing creatures are they? They don’t deserve to be called parents.

      Daughter decides to abort her child:
      bravo, you rock girl, you’re an open minded woman who defines a modern female.

  4. More than anything, I ask the LW to pls show her friend the comment written by ‘The ghost who eats’ below…most sensible thing I have read!

    • I also wonder is she having to choose between her marriage and her career? As in, ‘have this baby now, or be prepared for divorce and condemnation’?

      And does the husband realise that she is the one who would (not sure, but most probably) be raising the baby and making most of the ‘sacrifices’ required in parenting, but she is not the one who has a say in when to make these ‘sacrifices’?

  5. No, I am not at all surprised at the parents’ response. They are not the first set of parents (of the woman) nor the last that I have seen in whose eyes the son-in-law is a god incarnate and can do no wrong. So it is not at all surprising if they want their daughter to go by what he wishes rather than consider what she wants of life. But then again as “the ghost who eats” says, she is educated as well as financially independent. If she was so keen on an abortion, she should have had the courage to stand up for what she wanted else she should be honest enough to accept that she was unsure of herself and her decision or she did not have the courage to stand up for herself. No point putting the blame on the parents.

  6. I feel no one (including parents) have the right to even ‘disagree’ (let alone not support) a woman’s desire to abort. That is a decision that is intensely personal and only one person can make it. The husband can have some say in it but the ultimate decision is hers. It’s her body.

    I don’t get how her parents cannot support their daughter in this and leave her to deal with this on her own. Loved ones ought to support each other EVEN when they disagree – and this case, it’s not even their prerogative to disagree.

    Isn’t love, “I may not always agree with you, but I’ll always stand by you.”?

    • This is an all too common situation. Lots of times, when my sis would have marital problems, my dad would expect her to adjust. Nothing was said outright but he would smile in response or say something like, “Yes, these things are very common. Essentially they (in-laws) are good people. Every marriage has these ups and downs. Sometimes we all need to make little adjustments.” I was too young to process this back then but now I can see that no adjustments were ever suggested to the guy or his family, only to my sis.

    • Of course people have a right to disagree with a woman’s decision to abort. Since when is agreement mandatory and why should it be so?

      The woman has the right to do what she wants inspite of the disagreement of the entire world but that doesn’t mean the world owes her any agreement.

      And we don’t really know if the parents would have supported her or not – neither does she. If you go along with how others want you to live/act, how do you gauge the presence or absence of support inspite of disagreement?

      You have to be willing to step out of the approval trap to find out if your parents (or anyone else) value you more than their notion of how you ought to live.

      • “You have to be willing to step out of the approval trap to find out if your parents (or anyone else) value you more than their notion of how you ought to live.”

        Unfortunately true.
        I think however, this woman’s problem is solvable if everybody put their mind to it. All she has to do now is assert herself and say-I’m afraid my career will suffer because of this child; will you(parents+husband) help me minimise the professional setbacks, please?
        Since deciding when to have the child is the family project, involving a LOT of people apart from the couple/woman, raising that child should be too!

        • Yep, that is both fair and equitable. But she will still have to assert herself…And if she doesn’t get the response she needs, the help she needs, she will just have to create her own support network, both for herself and for her child.

    • Unfortunately, even in this century there are still many parents who tend to believe that a daughter’s marriage should be saved at all costs (no matter what miseries she is going through, be it physical or emotional violence or what have you). So it would be foolish to expect such parents to support the daughter in such a case. It is just not going to happen. If the daugher is strong enough to stand by her decision and face the consequences, then she should, never mind what.

      If on the other hand it is a matter of simple disagreement, I would agree with you in general. Say the daughter wants to be a doctor and the parents want her to do home science. I would agree with you that they should still stand by her decision. However, in a matter concerning abortion which is seen by many as murder (PLEASE, I AM NOT STATING MY PERSONAL OPINION HERE), it may not be fair to expect them to apply the above dictum of “I may not always agree with you, but I’ll always stand by you.” if that is the way they view the matter.

    • Haha, that’s the “Western” definition of love. The Indian definition of parental “love” is “We raised you and married you off, now don’t rock the boat. Chin up and smile! Remember you’re a woman!”

      • Interesting discussion so far:) Sharing my own experience in this area -
        When I got married, there was tremendous pressure to have that first child without waiting. I was going to school at the time, and wanted to graduate before having kids. Once I graduated, I wanted to work at least for 2 to 3 years. So I ended up having my first kid 6 years after getting married. During those 6 years, my in-laws went from anger/disbelief to strong disapproval to reluctant acceptance. There were times when they wouldn’t talk to me. My s-i-l asked me once, “What did we ever do to you? We’ve always been good to you. My brother is an only son. This is the only thing my parents will ever ask for.” My in-laws compared their life to a ‘desert’ at one point:) My parents were okay with my decision but were slightly uncomfortable due to my in-laws’ reaction.
        Looking back, I’m glad I stuck to my decision – it has made a huge difference to my career. Also when I did have kids, I enjoyed being a mom to them.
        I hope this lady follows her heart.

        • And now that I have kids, I can’t imagine not standing by my kids when they need me. And yes, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree – because if you think your child is doing something risky or unpopular or against the grain – something that will make her/his life more difficult – that is when she/he is going to need spouse/parents/people who love her the most.

        • Lovely comment, Priya! I applaud you for sticking with your decision. Sharing stories from personal experience makes so much of a difference to those who are in doubt. It gives a sense of community / support, methinks.

        • I agree completely Priya. I cannot imagine what it is like to have parents like this woman does.
          People who side with your husband and ignore your own wishes and well-being. It doesn’t matter what custom or tradition dictates, wanting the best for your offspring is an instinctive parental response.
          How can one not support one’s own child? They may disagree, but how can they refuse to support a child who so desperately wants support?

        • Excellent Priya. Hats off to your courage and am really glad you shared your personal experience here. That is what it takes for a woman to live life on her own terms.

          I am all in favour of women making their own decisions in the matter of having children. However, the basic difference between your situation and this lady’s is that you decided against having a kid before even conceiving. This lady’s situation gets more difficult because she is already pregnant. We cannot ignore the fact that there are two viewpoints on the subject of abortion. I am not even discussing the rights and wrongs of it. All I am saying is there are people who have very strong feelings about abortion – even women of the present generation. My only contention is if they equate abortion with murder (whether or not it is, is a topic for another debate) and have very strong opinions about the same, then it might be difficult for them to agree to support the daughter in this one decision no matter how much they love her or support her other decisions. This is an ethical issue as against a purely social issue and hence more complex.

          Another completely issue is that of our stupid social norms where parents prefer that the daughter put up with an unhappy marriage rather than walk out or get divorced for fear of “what will SOCIETY/PEOPLE say?”. However, those kind of parents in our society are more common than right thinking parents who will support their daughters should the need arise. In such a situation it is upto the women to have a spinal cord of their own and to stand up and fight for what they believe is right. And yes, whether to have a child or not should be entirely their say.

        • Swati, agree. Postponing having a child and debating an abortion are 2 different things. Both involve parental pressure, both involve taking away a woman’s rights, but yes, the latter is a more emotional decision. No woman can go through it without feeling some pain, some hurt. I’m sure it’s not an easy decision for the woman to make. But it is her decision to make. No one should be telling her what she should be doing with her body.
          Agree with the rest of your comment regarding the woman’s parents.

  7. We cannot depend of all others in the world for our married life decisions. It should within husband and wife with support
    and without bias or responsibilty of future and consequences on only one person.

  8. 18 years later, in 2031
    Mother: Child I guess you’re old enough to know the secret behind your birth.
    The child looks curious
    Child: w..what is it mom, what do you want to tell me?
    Mother: I wanted to abort you as your birth was going to hinder my career growth, if not for your father and maternal grand parents, you won’t have born.

    The child stares blankly at the mother, not knowing how to react. Did she love him for bringing the joy of motherhood to her life or hated him for destroying her career, will he ever be able to look at her with the same feelings he used to until now, these and many more unanswerable, unknown questions pounding his head.

      • For 2 reasons:
        1. To avoid too many him/her instances, I chose him as it’s common to refer to people whose gender is unknown as him.

        2. To see whether anyone comments on me using him instead of him/her.

        • 1) You used him/ he about four times. It was too difficult for you to type him/ her four times? A curious choice over ‘her’ or ‘it’ or ‘the child’, no?

          2) To prove that there are people who don’t share you by-default-male view of the world? Congratulations, you were correct!

          To answer the point of your comment, such a reaction would seem quite unnatural to me. If my mother told me that she considered aborting me, I would feel rather grateful for her providing me with care and love regardless of her circumstances/ compromises. Abortions are banned beyond the point when the fetus becomes viable. Depending on when the mother wanted to abort, the ‘child’ could have been just a ball of cells. How could it hold the mother accountable for her choices? That it develops into a child later is irrelevant to the fate of a mass of cells. Where do you stop with this logic? Can we extend it to the ovum and sperm? Can we say you are killing children every time you ejaculate or have a non-fertile menstrual cycle?

          Also, I can’t really understand this logic: “Did she love him for bringing the joy of motherhood to her life or hated him for destroying her career”.
          If she was a bad or abusive mother, she would be a ‘bad’ mother irrespective of whether she wanted an abortion or not. If that’s not the case, then I cannot imagine doubting a mother’s affections based on what she thought of the pregnancy before the child was even born.

          By the way, did you notice how I managed to talk about the situation without needing to call the child a ‘him’ (apart from where I quote you, of course)? It’s not impossible.

        • @carvaka

          First let me clear the him/her thing. I always thought it’s a non issue whatever one prefers among him or her or him/her or her/him or …, it’s a personal choice and I don’t care about that, what I care and appreciate are the actions so even if someone uses her at places where he could have used him/her that doesn’t bother me but if someone talks gender neutral but acts the opposite way that definitely bothers me. I agree(and that’s what I wanted to see) that there are people who pay minute attention to details and for whom this him vs him/her may be the root cause of gender biasness but I don’t feel so and hence I like to channel my efforts to things I find of greater importance.

          2ndly about the abortion thing, I’ve asked myself the questions you’re asking and I agree that because I am against killing a fetus I won’t agree with abortion but one or two people saying they’re ok if their mothers aborted them doesn’t mean that majority of man kind would. Also is there a proof anywhere, where it’s proven without doubt that till the time limit for abortion(which is about 24 weeks) the child isn’t living?

    • A must read Anonymouscoward.
      I wish my mother had aborted me

      If we want to keep our reproductive rights, we must be willing to tell our stories, to be willing and able to say, “I love my life, but I wish my mother had aborted me.”

      An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion would have made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education. At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.

      • Thousands of people do suicide every year, that doesn’t mean everyone wants to suicide then how can one post saying my mother should have aborted me mean that it’s fine with every human if his mother had aborted him?

        • Why do you want it to be fine with everyone? If you are against abortion, don’t abort. Everyone else will make their own choice.

  9. If I were te mom, I would
    1. Tell my daughter that having a baby or not is exclusively her choice
    2. Advise her o talk it out with her husband and try to take a decision agreeable o both.
    3. If that is not possible then I would ask her if she is willing to separate
    4. Ask if he is capable Mentally, physically, financially have the strength to go thru the separation .
    5. Have the mental well being and strength to go thru an abortion.
    6. After a divorce will she lead full enjoyable fruitful life? Happier than she is now?

    If she is thn go for it, in a way I agree with the parents and don’t agree as we’ll. I would give my support unconditionally but that doesn’t mean much if she’s going to come crying o me for everything.
    I may die of an illness tomorrow so if she cannot separate without my help, she needs to build her confidence first.

    This is not her parents decision at all, she needs o decide and simply give information she is not a 2yer old to ask for permission and approval

      • I would like to mention that this does not always work out this way. I know a person who did not want a kid and husband and her parents convinced her to go ahead with her pregnancy, promising to look after the kid. She gave in, gave birth and before she could go back home after delivery, the husband died of a heart attack. She was left holding the baby. That the parents helped is a different matter. The point is having a kid should be a matter of personal responsibility and not one of someone else taking over after the biological function of bringing the new life into the world is over and done with. So I don’t think that she could go by such promises by the husband. What is she going to do if he promises now and does not keep up his promise later? Who will look after the kid? Will the kid grow up without a good upbringing? Will (s)he tread the right path in life or go astray? Having a kid should be a very responsible decision, ideally with both parents chipping into the upbringing. Unfortunately in a large number of cases, it is still the mother who shoulders the major share of upbringing with the father being just a figurehead or absent on the scene (travelling or whatever). As such, it should still be the mother’s decision to have a kid or not.

        In the past, it used to often be a case of the man earning and the woman staying at home. If both worked, often the man earned more and the woman’s earnings were merely seen as a supplement. At that time it was so easily accepted that due to this difference the woman should move to where the husband was, because he had to keep his job. Even today the common perception (against we are still waging a battle) is that a woman is more vulnerable to sexual violence and so the onus of being careful and protecting herself lies on her. So many people accept this dictum. Then why is it so difficult for these same people to accept that Nature has chosen Woman to bear and rear children and so it should be her prerogative to decide whether or not she wants to do it? Don’t we argue according to convenience as against logic and fairness? What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander.

    • “would give my support unconditionally but that doesn’t mean much if she’s going to come crying o me for everything.”
      “she is not a 2yer old to ask for permission and approval”

      Great point. I find that at times parents don’t support their children because they aren’t confident in the child’s choice. They think they know best, because their children seem unsure of themselves. It is possible that if the woman had taken a strong stand herself, the parents might have been more inclined to be supportive.

      • Carvaka many Indian parents believe a daughter’s husband and in laws and all elders always know better. Maybe sometimes they pretend to believe that because that pretence is likely to save their daughter’s marriage.

  10. Thanks to the letter writer for acknowledging the efforts of so many of us who responded to the earlier blog post and offered our views/opinions and suggestions.
    I always expect that from the original poster and was beginning to feel disappointed at not getting an update from her even after receiving such an overwhelming response. 180 comments is probably record of sorts on this blog.

    Anyway, better late than never.

    I am not surprised at the parents decision.
    As “ghost who eats” correctly points out, the parents are merely not supporting the daughter’s decision about aborting. They are not forcing anything on her. The parents are well within their rights to feel the way they do.

    I am sure it is all for the best.
    Time will heal everything. Once the baby arrives, the joy of motherhood will compensate.
    It will take some time for the bonding with the baby to get cemented. Years from now the lady will be glad she decided to have the child after all when she sees the child growing.
    It is also very probable that she would have resumed her career, even if she has fallen behind a little.

    I only hope the parents will support the daughter and offer all help to her in taking care of her newborn and also support her in her efforts to resume her interrupted career.

    My wife and I are doing that right now and helping my daughter ( who is a career woman) after she recently delivered a baby boy. We have come over here to California only for this purpose and I have turned down offers back home to come out of my retirement and extend my career for a few more years. My son-in laws-parents will relieve us when we return on expiration of our visa which is for 6 months only. We are also ready to come to California once again after 6 months, and repeat the cycle. We and my son-in-law’s parents are willing to do this as long as we are invited to do so, and as long as our health permits us or till the baby is old enough to be put in a day care center and they can manage without us.

    Regards
    GV

    • I don’t know why we think about years from now. It’s so hypothetical. She may be happy or she may not be happy about her decision. I have seen people regret the timing of parenthood and contemplating where their career might have been had they not had a child at that particular time. Also it’s your goodwill that you are helping out your daughter and son in law with the baby at the cost of your career because probably it means more to you. However we should not expect that from all parents. Their duty is finished after raising their own children. After that if they choose their own career/hobbies over it they have full right to it and there is nothing wrong in it. People should have children only when they themselves are capable of handling all childhood responsibilities themselves(with hired help if required) and not depend on their parents/inlaws to chip in.

      GV ji I found your comment bit self righteous so hence my two cents.

    • GVji, motherhood should never be forced on any woman. I have seen far too many adults who have carried the scars of a difficult and unstable childhood well into adulthood.
      An emotionally distant, neglectful and unstable primary parent can cause far-reaching psychological trauma to a child. The children of an emotionally unstable, unavailable mother never learn to form healthy and secure emotional bonds even in their adult relationships. The ghosts of a difficult childhood continue to haunt their adult lives; especially their interactions with the opposite sex.

      The mere act of giving birth does not prepare a woman to be a caring, nurturing and reliable parent. We assume that maternal love blossoms the moment a child is born. Many mothers who undergo forced pregnancies have repressed feelings of anger and resentment against their children which the children sense.

      Psychologists speak of attachment styles and children with a fearful attachment style who are also victims of emotional neglect/abuse are more likely to develop disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder and are more prone to depression and low self-esteem.

      I’m not saying this lady will be a resentful and distant parent just because she didn’t want the child. I’m just pointing out that emotional neglect during childhood can have far-reaching adverse consequences. Also, dysfunction runs in families for generations. So a distant, non-nurturing parent may have children who repeat the cycle by adopting these same dysfunctional child-rearing practises.

    • I think, in the light of this woman’s decision, it’s only fair that the people around her-namely the parents and husband- help her out as much as possible.
      Now that they know her true feelings about this pregnancy, it will be unfair of them NOT to take over the care-giving, seeing as they have pushed her into a corner and made her have this baby. She should INSIST on her parents help.

      I don’t really want to comment on the decision to continue the pregnancy. The thing to understand is this- the woman making a decision (to abort or not to abort) is NOT doing it lightly. Wanting a pregnancy is the ‘default’ setting-socially, and biologically-so imagine how strongly she must feel if she doesn’t want it.

      Yes, she’s an adult, with a job- but she’s been made to feel guilty about her choice and threatened with divorce,THAT’s why she is having this baby.
      GVjee she may/may not love her baby with time, but she may forever resent her husband and parents- they will have to live with that.

    • “Time will heal everything. Once the baby arrives, the joy of motherhood will compensate.
      It will take some time for the bonding with the baby to get cemented. Years from now the lady will be glad she decided to have the child after all when she sees the child growing.”

      This line of thought is extremely presumptuous, indicating that this was inevitably the only right decision and she will learn to deal with it. How could you possibly know what this woman wants from life? Why force your idea of what is joyful on other people?

      My husband’s grandma is a qualified doctor. However, she never got to work or practise because she had kids after getting married and society said ‘why do you want to work? take care of your kids, your husband earns enough’. She obviously loved all her kids, it does not take years as you say, biology induces love from the get-go in normal cases. However, to this day, she regrets that her medical qualification (earned on merit against all odds) was entirely wasted because other people decided what was important to her.

      • Agree. I’ve seen mothers who don’t enjoy being mothers. They are dutiful – they take good care of children’s needs. But enjoying motherhood means being there for your children emotionally. You can’t do that until you are really ready to have kids and have made the commitment to give them your time and all of your heart.

  11. I am glad the friend got back to us to update us all. For that I am thankful.

    I am not surprised by this decision. Most women after all the talk of free will and all, give in to social pressure.

    I also agree with ghost in comment 1, whether someone disapproves or not, you can go ahead and do what you please if you have the courage to stand by your convictions.

    The parents did the typical thing. I wish they had told, do what makes you happy, we will give you suggestions and help you think through all this but in the end the decisions is yours and you must face all the things that come on the path you chose. We still love you and support you no matter what.

  12. Sad outcome, another woman succumbs in to the pressure of society and wants of others (husbands/mil/parent etc) instead of what she might have wanted from bottom of her heart. Sure, she made the socially acceptable and easier choice, no one would raise fingers at her or ostracize her now. But if I was in her shoe, this would always be a forced decision for me. I don’t see how in the future a baby could instantly make my resentment and unwillingness disappear. I don’t buy into the brainwash that woman finds instant happiness/fulfillment/unquestioning love moment she sees her baby and all the sacrifices are absolutely worth it. No they won’t be worth it for me if I see my career stalled for years to come or I missed out being at the right place/right time because I was too busy changing diapers with very little sleep for a baby I did not want at that time. Please don’t generalize a baby is above ALL else for ANY woman, it is not. Sure she was not strong enough to go against society without any support from parents/husband, that is indeed very very difficult in the context of an already misogynist Indian society. If I was her, I don’t think I would develop much maternal love for the child and will always see the child (and my husband/in-laws) with incredible resentment as someone who trampled over my dreams and ambitions. I know this is not a popular feeling to admit, how can a mother not love her child blah blah blah, but sorry I cannot get over the fact that my choice and desires were so blatantly disregarded by those i thought were closest and dearest to me. I know this is not fair to the child who is innocent, but that does not take away my resentment that I was not given a fair choice either.

    • well said, the resentment one feels in such situations apart from the resentment that arises out of powerlessness in one’s own life cannot be avoided.

      • You know, SoS, I am now beginning to realise why so many women of previous generations are such control-freaks and have an obsessive need to dictate terms to their sons and DILs.
        If you’ve had your desires and dreams throttled, have been forced to bow to the superior wisdom of “elders”, then when its your turn to be an “elder” you’ll do the same.

  13. She will hear from her husband, parents and many others that motherhood will make up for the loss of career/ choice. Later she will say ‘I am glad I made this choice, I love my baby, careers aren’t worthwhile’. Actually, she will have lost her career advantage and a say in many other life choices (since she has now agreed to an unequal partnership). She will have no option but to find satisfaction in the choice that was forced upon her. People will say ‘told you so’ and feel even more conceited.

    I find it strange that people say ‘she will love her baby now, not to worry’. She would have loved her baby even if she would have had the baby when she wanted it, of her own choice. This forced decision was not necessary to achieve motherhood and love for her child, if she wanted that!

    I am not surprised that her parents didn’t support her, because ‘stay married’ is the most common parental advice to women in such situations. I am surprised that she is taking a break from her career. Is there no maternal leave in India? Once the baby is here, why can’t she go back to work and ask her husband and parents to share childcare responsibilities? After all they were the ones that wanted the baby! Why not at least negotiate better terms for herself?

    I am always amazed that ‘good’ indian parents blatantly push their children into unhealthy marriages. Quite apart from the abortion issue, they have forced her to silently give into demands being made on the threat of divorce. That’s as unhealthy and unequal as it gets! For all the people that were advising her to make a ‘joint decision’ here, they never expressed objection to the husband saying ‘my way or divorce’. How can you make a joint decision with someone threatening you with divorce? That is not how a marriage should work.

    • I just re-read both the emails about this again. Where does it say that the husband threatened her with divorce? I honestly couldn’t find any such statement.

      All that has been said is that she was thinking of leaving the marriage and that her parents were absolutely against her separating from her husband.

      • Isn’t that the situation being discussed in these posts? Otherwise why were her only options (other than divorce) to hide the abortion or have the baby and give up her career? The letters state:

        1) He was strictly against the abortion and she was considering her choices between: (1) having the abortion without telling her husband, (2) having the abortion and leaving her marriage, (3) losing her career but keeping the baby (against her wishes) and marriage.

        2) She consulted her parents on whether they would support her in having the abortion and leaving the marriage.

        Clearly, she was not in a position to negotiate a favourable outcome jointly with her husband. You can either say that he would divorce her if she had the abortion or that she would have to divorce him in order to have the abortion. Both mean the same thing. She was being made to choose between divorce and compromising on her own self autonomy.

        • No, it really isn’t what is in the posts. It is what is being discussed in the comments though.

          Nor do we know that her only options were as you outline above – all we know is that these were what a third party has mentioned as the options she was considering. The reasons could well lie whe you indicate or they could lie elsewhere.

          Fr’ex, given the facts we have at our disposal, it can be as easily said that she was so unwilling to be a mom that she was willing to even divorce/separate if that is what it comes to. And that says nothing about her husband or her parents or any kind of threats…all it says is that she really, really did not want to be a mother right now.

          Same applies to the assumption that is being made about her career – that she has had to (has been forced to) take a break from her career. Again, it is an unwarranted assumption. It could as easily be that this is her reaction to not having anyone’s support for her stance.

          And it really isn’t at all clear to me that she was/is not in a position to negotiate a favourable outcome with her husband. In fact, it isn’t even clear to me whether she tried to do so or not.

          For all I know, based on these mails, the husband might well be unaware that he is held to have threatened her with divorce, or that she was thinking of leaving the marriage, or that she talked to her parents to see if they’d support her if she were to
          walk out of the marriage and terminate the pregnancy.

          The core assumption I see underlying many comments here is that of honest, frank and assertive communication on the girl’s part and threats and bullying from everyone else. It may be true, it may not be true. We do not know.

  14. Reminds me of something i read somewhere -’if you do not take your own decisions, others will take them for you’.
    Obviously this lady, like a typical indian married woman,is a lonely creature.nobody to share her burdens with even when she is married with carrier,doing everything she can to please otherd and stay content with work.niw imagine if she goes and does something against the wishes of those near and dear ones.she will be damned.no wonder she caved.
    Tough.

  15. Thanks to purple sheep, biwo, desidaru12 and carvaka, for their views opposing mine.

    Sigh!
    The generation gap shows!

    I am unable to change my way of thinking even after reading these (and other) opposing views.

    If I can be accused of “presuming” that the mother will be happy with the baby after it is born, it is simply based on observations and experiences of friends and relatives over a lifetime of 64 years so far. Not that I am always right, but in these matters, I like to believe that I will be right most of the time. I can also charge others with “presuming” that the woman in the long run will have a happy career, and never regret not having a baby during the years it is best to have them and will never be affected by loneliness or depression in her old age.

    Why should everyone feel that a woman can’t have both a family and a career? Why are others presuming that this is an “either”/”or” situation? It need not be. All that will happen is that her career will take a temporary back seat.

    I would like to tell those who feel that her career will be lost or very adversely affected that it is equally probably that, if she chooses to remain wedded to her career and aborts the baby, defying everyone, then with each successive pregnancy later, her career will be threatened with an even greater hit and it is possible by the time she is mentally ready for the baby her chances of a normal pregnancy, normal birth, and a healthy child will have diminished. Her relationship with her husband (who is okay otherwise) and her in laws and now even with her own parents will be adversely affected.
    In my opinion, this is too high a price to pay.

    I have no issues if a woman consciously decides never to have a baby and be a career woman. But in such cases, in my view the woman should either not marry at all or tell her husband clearly right at the outset and get the husband’s concurrence. I am sure there will be men too who take a conscious decision not to have children and marriage to such a person is the logically correct thing to do.

    @ purple sheep
    ==============
    ——————
    Quote:
    “I don’t know why we think about years from now. It’s so hypothetical.”
    Unquote:
    —————–

    I have always been thinking, planning for the future and acting, basing my actions on past experiences (both my own and that of others). That’s my nature and will never change. I don’t consider this as being “hypothetical”

    ——————
    Quote:
    “Also it’s your goodwill that you are helping out your daughter and son in law with the baby at the cost of your career because probably it means more to you. However we should not expect that from all parents. Their duty is finished after raising their own children. After that if they choose their own career/hobbies over it they have full right to it and there is nothing wrong in it. People should have children only when they themselves are capable of handling all childhood responsibilities themselves(with hired help if required) and not depend on their parents/inlaws to chip in.”
    Unquote:
    —————–
    No quarrel with your views. I generally agree.

    But in my case, I have benefited from help from my parents and in-laws when my own children were young and both of us (wife and I) had careers of our own. I can never repay the previous generation for what they did for me, and therefore derive satisfaction from passing the benefit on to another generation. I don’t insist or expect everyone must be like me. To each his own. I am hoping very much that this woman’s parents and her husband and in laws offer her all help and support after she has her baby. She deserves it.

    I am sorry for sounding “self righteous” to you. I did not intend to be.

    @biwo, @carvaka
    ==================
    I never stated in the previous post that motherhood should be forced on this women.
    All I stated was that it would be wrong not to consult the husband at all or even inform him. Even now it is not apparent that motherhood has been forced on her. Her parents have simply refused to support her decision and are within their rights to do so. So, now with no support from anyone, she is reluctantly having her baby. I feel her disappointment is going to be temporary and in the long run this will work out all right. Yes, this is a presumption. But so is the guess that she will be miserable in future due to a temporary setback in her career.

    All the things you are pointing out about the bad effects on a woman who has a baby against her will may be true. But it is equally true that some woman who have sacrificed motherhood for a career, later regret having done so when they reach middle age or old age and are affected by health problems and suffer from loneliness.

    Carvaka’s example of her grandmother can be countered with examples of those who defied biology and society and later suffered a life of loneliness and depression.

    There is no substitute for blood relations like an offspring or sibling or parent. God gives them. Unlike friends, they can’t be chosen. I have learnt to humbly accept them when the Lord picks and chooses them and gives them to me. Others are of course at liberty to reject what nature gives and take their own decisions in the matter.

    I pray this lady will have a healthy pregnancy, a happy motherhood and a fruitful resumption of her interrupted career.

    Regards
    GV
    Camp: California

    • GVjee,
      Here is the inconvenient truth-Having a baby is a joy for both a man and a woman, yet, a man gets to experience this joy with zero effort, where as a woman needs to pay for this privilege with her blood, sweat, and tears.

      After the child comes into this world, what happens next depends heavily on which society the parents live in. In Europe,for example, the work of parenting is divided between the mother and father, if both are working.
      In India, this falls mostly on the woman’s shoulders, irrespective of whether or not she is working. ONLY her career gets affected- in varying degrees, but nonetheless, the man gets to be a father AND keep his career progression intact.

      Do you see why a working Indian woman would feel slightly aggrieved at this situation? She cannot change the first bit (the biological aspect) but surely something can be done about the second (social aspect)?

      The solution to ‘entice’ working Indian women into having children is pretty simple actually- get Indian men to assume the same amount of responsibility for their offspring.
      Let men take leave, cut back on office hours and help out hands-on: it will do more to change the perception that kids harm one’s career than anything else.
      P.S I too hope the woman has a happy outcome; but I realise it’s possible only if her husband decides to be a supportive dad/partner.

      • Wonderful response desidaaru12, agree absolutely with you.

        Why don’t people get it that having babies only negatively impacts a woman’s career especially in Indian family setup, hence all the apprehension about babies from women who do take their careers very seriously (yes we do exist).
        Do Indian men take any paternity leave? Men can happily become fathers, enjoy uninterrupted career growth, they get the best of everything. Only women make all the sacrifices for the so called joys of motherhood or “the most difficult job in the world”. If parenting is so difficult and fulfilling, why don’t men sign up for it in droves after the baby is born?
        Also, can we please stop scare mongering woman into having babies or they will die alone lonely and depressed? Let’s not forget many many women for ages have given up all their dreams (or never had any) for the sake of babies/family. Only now it is possible for women to find fulfillment and self-actualization outside the domestic sphere, do something meaningful in the world. Instead of scaring women about old age, we should demand men to take an equal share of parenting responsibility (actually I would demand even greater share because men never have to go through physical pregnancy or labor). I know this is an absolute pipe dream in Indian society unfortunately!!

      • Great thoughts and sound views.
        I agree!
        Our generation of husbands were notorious.
        But I find at least some modern young men willing to be like what you suggested.
        Hopefully their numbers will increase.

        Thanks for responding.
        Regards
        GV

      • Well said. Not only the fathers taking more responsibility but also governments need to make laws/ policies with more equality. I much prefer the Swedish system of granting shared ‘parental leave’, which the mother and father can split as they like, rather than say the UK policy of ‘maternal leave’ of six months and ‘paternal leave’ of two weeks.

        Society needs to stop assuming that women will be homemakers and that their pay/career is secondary to their husband’s. Let parents decide who needs to take leave and when and let fathers take up equal responsibility for childcare. This is also the only way to have pay equality as well. Long maternity leaves and short paternity leaves (or no paternity leaves) will always penalise women’s careers and that is really not necessary, as the Scandinavian system shows.

    • GV ji I must tell you that I admire your way of putting across your views even if I disagree with them. Well Your view of planning for future is very valid and you may not consider it hypothetical. But our planning as to be based on facts and not assumptions. Here you are planning on assumption that she will come around to like being a mother and be okay with putting her career on hold. This is not planning. This is not based on facts. The fact is right now she is not mentally prepared for motherhood. So in that case it’s hypothetical to assume she will come around to enjoy motherhood at the cost of her career. I don’t consider that planning.infact her pregnancy is not planned.

    • “Carvaka’s example of her grandmother can be countered with examples of those who defied biology and society and later suffered a life of loneliness and depression.”

      Yes, absolutely. The key point though, is that women’s like my grandmother have regrets because of choices that were made for them, whereas women in your example are regretting consequences of their own decisions. Those are very different things for me. Any decision can lead to regret or bad consequences. However, I would much rather deal with consequences of my own decisions than of decisions forced on me due to social norms.

  16. While its her body and she has the right to do whatever she wants with her baby, I think its wrong to abort a baby. If you think its okay for her to abort the baby because of career reasons then you are no different from plp who support girl child abortions. killing is killing, weather its for career reasons , family pressure, or society pressure to have a boy. If she is wanting to abort for career then I am guessing she is an educated independent woman. She should have taken birth control pills if she want not ready to have a baby. She should have made it clear to her husband that he needs to use protection. If she was careless to take these precautions then she landed herself in this problem. If this was an accident which happened even after she took birth control then she should know that most jobs offers maternity leave, and she can easily have someone take care of the baby while she is at work. A lot of solutions can come up if only she would sit down and discuss it with her family instead of insisting on abortion. Honestly, if you career is very important to you then you should have had a serious discussion with your husband before the marriage and if he didnt agree, then dont get married. You have to choose your priorities in life.

    • You are perfectly free to feel that abortion is wrong. However your subsequent rationalization does not seem to me to be entirely justified.

      Sex-selective abortion of female foetuses is mainly despised because it is part of a widespread pattern of discrimination against women in our country and also more often than not, it is imposed upon the mother. Comparing it to a woman voluntarily wanting to terminate an unintended pregnancy does not make sense.

      The rest of your argument rests on the assumption that abortion of a foetus is equivalent to killing a child. In my opinion, that is a flawed assumption.

      As a biopsychologist puts it “An egg and a sperm are not a human. A fertilized embryo is not a human—it needs a uterus, and at least six months of gestation and development, growth and neuron formation, and cell duplication to become a human”

      As a biologist, PZ Myers puts it “A blastocyst, a hollow ball of cells with an inner mass that will become the embryo proper, has exactly the same genes as a five year old person or an octagenerian. But it doesn’t have limbs or eyes or brain, it doesn’t think or feel, it doesn’t dance or learn. It is…a hollow ball of cells. It’s got cilia and might spin in place. That’s about it. It’s human only in the most trivial, reductionist sense.”

      I do not know all the scientific facts about abortion, but what I’m trying to say here is that you are not always justified in equating an abortion to killing a human being. A foetus is not equivalent to an infant. We still do not have a clear scientific idea of when exactly a foetus can be said to become a individual person; but what’s clear is that it’s not when the foetus is a bunch of undifferentiated cells.

      Also, you seem to be placing the entire blame of the unwanted pregnancy on the woman. Your argument seems to be “she dared to have unprotected sex; she should face the consequences”. This argument also seems to be flawed to me.
      1. For one thing, even if both of them are careful with birth control, accidents still happen
      2. Even if, for some reason, she did intentionally have unprotected sex, she still does not have to go through with the pregnancy just to satisy someone else’s sense of moral righteousness. As long as abortion is legal and safe, she has every right to take that option

      In all this grey area about abortion, one thing is clear. Abortion or otherwise, it is the woman’s body that gets impacted. It should be her decision and her decision alone. If the husband disagrees, he can try to talk to her and convince her of his viewpoint. If her parents or in-laws disagree, they can try to convince her. But the final decision remains hers because it’s her body. Forcing someone to go through an unwanted pregnancy is just as bad as forcing someone to get an abortion.

      You are asking the letter writer to choose her priorities. What’s the point? Nobody in her immediate family circle seems to have given a damn about her priorities.

      • you said “sex-selective abortion of female foetuses is mainly despised because it is part of a widespread pattern of discrimination against women in our country and also more often than not, it is imposed upon the mother. ” so if the mother selectively aborts girl children then its okay? I know someone who has aborted about 4 girls because she thinks only boys will take care of her in old age and girls are useless, so you think she is right to do this??

    • Wow, how can you be so judgemental about a complete stranger? You’re basically saying that because she may not have had the foresight to discuss the plan of action for an unintended pregnancy before marriage, or discussed her long term career goals and the timing of future children, she has forfeited the right to abort an unwanted foetus.

      How many of us were given the opportunity to have such detailed discussions with our future spouse before the wedding, especially in an arranged marriage context?

      • Wanting to not have a baby for couple of years after getting into an arranged marriage is not “normal” according to indian culture. So since she is not following the norm, she should have discussed this with her husband. Arranged marriage is for girls who are willing to compromise. if you are not that type of girl then don’t get into arranged marriage.

        • What rubbish having an arranged marriage doesn’t mean you don’t plan kids later. It’s the opp every arranged marriage I’ve known off the couple wIt a couple yrs to get to k ow each other before having kids

    • Gk84 if you are saying she should have discussed with her husband that her career is important for her before getting married I want to ask you who asked the husband to assume otherwise. It could also be argued that if he wanted his wife to place his wishes before her career he should have also communicated that to her before getting married and if she had disagreed he could have opted out. You are asking her to prioritise. But do you really want her to make HER own priorities or prioritise what you feel is right?

      • All i am saying is,,, the baby is not just hers. He/she is also her husbands so both of them have to decide what to do. She is wanting to make the decision for both of them which is wrong and unfair to the husband. If she felt soooo strongly about this then she should have taken the initiative to talk about this with her husband before it happened. Why get married if you are not going to work together to solve issues?? if you feel strongly about something then its ur responsibly to let the other person know this. Kids are the first thing couples should talk about before getting married even if its arranged marriage.

        We don’t live in perfect world so we can’t assume that people are always going to do what we want from them, so we have TELL them our wishes so if something like this happens, we will know how to handle it. For example, if you are vegetarian, you are always going to make sure when u r eating out that it doesn’t contain many meat. You are not going to assume that plp know this about you.
        if she told her husband after she got married and he was against it then she should have made sure she used birth control. Marriage is between two plp who are willing to walk together in life and solve their issues together.

      • @the purple sheep “who asked the husband to assume otherwise.” He is a typical indian male, ofcouse he is going to assume otherwise. If you think you are going to get married to a “typical indian man” and he is not going to have a baby for at least 5 years then the fault is in u.

  17. I don’t agree that she should have a baby to please her arenas and spouse or that she should abort for her career, they are both extremes.

    It is of no matter weather she loves the child or if she aborts and is unable to have a child, no one can predict the future.
    I know a lot of people with wanted and unwanted children, the are equal no of happy and sad cases.

    I certainly don’t agree that her parents should have the same views as her, support yes, agree to have the same beliefs — absolutely not. They are humans too, have feelings, thoughts and a brain.

    My gut feeling, she wants there’s to aid in Isilon making, she wants a divorce and wants people to subscribe to her way of thinking, especially parents and husband. That is not going to happen.

    She has to find the courage to take a stand and stick by that no matter the consequences.

    A short story — my parents were against my choice of husband, for no other reason that he had lost both parents and he was not their choice and we we a oh so orthodox family.
    I was asked to forget him or remove all my jewellery and walk out.
    Now I didn’t wait for their approval, ask my future spouse to support me, or look for any approval, I walked, yes we got married in a few weeks and a quite happy after 2cades but
    Even if he had dumped me I would have been fine, since it was my choice, a choice un influenced , by anyone.

    Maybe for this girl abortion is a mistake, maybe compromising is a mistake, no one can tell
    However whatever she does she has to decide with or without anyone’s support or approval
    That is what she is educated and matured for. She can expect support and maybe she will get it
    Even if she aborts but she needs courage and her heart to tell her what to do, and quit blaming the world for her issues.

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  26. I was highlighting what’s has been written on this forum. Among A, B and C, it’s ok for B to treat C in a certain way but the same thing becomes wrong when A dishes out similar treatment to B, why?

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