An email: “this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.”

This issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws is also an issue of bias between a much wanted and valued, prayed and fasted for Indian male child and the generally unwanted Indian girl child.

Those who avoid having girl children, frequently value the male child as a Budhape ka Sahara, expected to provide financial support and obedient daughters in law to the parents . 

Girl children are not expected to do either and the only way they can traditionally repay the parents is by Getting Married and Staying Married, preferably Happily Married (only to someone the parents approve of).  

Because Happily married daughters are seen as well brought up, sanskaari or empowered or ‘lucky’. The parents of Happily Married Daughters generally maybe considered fortunate, sensible, matured, sanskaari and successful.

Happily married sons risk being seen as Joru Ke Gulaam (JKG), neglectful of their parents. Parents of happily married sons risk being looked upon as uncared for, by others and by themselves. (parents who have no male children are free from such expectations)

But how does patriarchy expect to see happily married daughters without any happily married sons?

Same way it sees ‘peace and harmony’ in silenced voices, unhappiness, injustice, cruelty, denial of human rights and freedom, and gender bias.

Sharing an email.  

Dear IHM

Gender issues and bias against women never seemed to really touch me until my marriage. My upbringing was such that both career and family were made equally important. After, completing my studies, I got landed with a cushy corporate job in a big city. My parents supported my decision to move to this city.

After a few years of working life, I met a guy. We fell for each other and decided to marry. While my parents approved of him and respected my choice, his mother refused of our match. Reason, after showing my horoscope to a pundit, the latter told her that while I will get along well with her son but I won’t get along well with her.

Somehow, my hubby along with his dad managed to convince her and she agreed. Unfortunately, my father in law expired only a few months of our marriage. Mil refused to shift with us. I had to quit my job immediately to be with her as she couldn’t stay alone. After a few months my hubby too got a job in his hometown and moved with us.

When we were finally settled, my hubby brought the subject of me starting with my job again. She bluntly refused saying that she does not want to be a maid to us plus she cannot stay alone after her hubby’s death. I loved my hubby a lot and made this sacrifice for him.

But her tantrums didn’t stop. She never allowed to us to go out alone, parties were not allowed, movie dates were not allowed, visiting relatives were not allowed…..Worst, she would get furious even if talked with each other in her presence, many times she would come to our room to sleep since she used to get afraid in the night! We were newly-weds who slept with their mother in between!

I sacrificed my desires as well. She demanded a child soon so that she could get busy with the grandchild.

We understood her situation and conceived. She became all the more controlling and dictating now. I was advised bed rest for one month due to chances of abortion but she told me that doctors don’t know much. The more you will work, the better your chances of having a normal delivery.

She started playing dirty politics. Would say something to me and something different to hubby. Used to treat me like a maid behind his back and showered false care in front of him. Foolish me, I never complained and never shared with even hubby. Kept on enduring all abuse because I wanted to make the marriage work.

Pregnancy and delivery both were a nightmare. Only used to share with my mom. But enough is enough.

My mom expired and I went through one of the worst periods of depression. I couldn’t take it anymore. The desire to make the marriage work finally lost its battle and all I wanted was a divorce.

My hubby got extremely distressed and spoke to his sister, who’s in a similar situation. Her MIL too is a widow. She’s working in a highly reputed company at a good post. She advised us that the only solution to the problem is that I start working and we keep a full time maid. We all spoke to my MIL and she had to agree.

By this time my kid had turned two. I got a job and started working. We kept a full time maid for all the work. Things improved. Although, she never allowed us alone time but at least she stopped treating me like a maid. Time passed and I got promoted. I now used to get a little late from office. Where earlier I used to be home by 5:30, I started arriving around 6:30.

Problems started cropping up again. Our maid used to leave by 5 pm and against half an hour, she now had to keep the grandchild for full one hour. I spoke with my boss and worked upon a solution from working from home. I had to visit office for just one day in a week and just required to remain online during office hours on Skype.

Now she asked the maid to leave to cut down expenses. Due to work at home, my job suffered and I got fired. Even the job solution didn’t work. To engage myself I have now started spending time on my laptop. Once I got fired, the maid treatment started again.

I could have still understood her expectations for having a typical house wife as a daughter in law had her own daughter not been working. Hers is an arranged marriage. She takes special pride in describing her daughter’s achievements. She loves to narrate how she prevented her daughter from marrying the boy of her choice because the boy’s parents were not ready to let her continue her career.

Had she married that boy, she would have turned into a ‘typical housewife’ by now, she describes flaunting her choice of groom for her daughter. My sister in law has two children and her MIL keeps her two kids for 12 hours. And my MIL couldn’t even keep my child for just one hour!

I understand I should not make comparisons, each person is different. But if I am understanding her, atleast she can let me be me. If she expects me to do household chores, I have no qualms. Its my work, my responsibility. But when I am doing all my duties, have sacrificed my career, my desires, why can’t I do what I enjoy doing. Now she is having problems with me spending time on the laptop and not spending time with other ‘bahus’ in the locality!

She now has problems that I don’t go to kitty parties, I don’t mingle with other bahus and waste time on the internet! Her daughter doesn’t go to kitty parties because she is a career woman. I never neglected my duties even when I was working. I used to make chapattis, pack three tiffins (hubby’s, son’s and mine), make breakfast, get my son ready for school, prepare dinner…

My SIL knows no cooking, does not help in any household work, does not even looks after her kids, shouts at her MIL (many times her MIL calls my MIL that her daughter does not treat her well and makes her feel like a maid!) Her ‘saat khun are maaf’ only because she is earning in lakhs per month, while I earned peanuts compared to her! Every time she gives this excuse, if hubby or me say anything.

But why does she fails to overlook, I was also earning good. In fact we both would have been doing well in our careers had we not compromised with our careers due to her. We are now living in a small town, the place is not meant for service class or professionals.

This time when my SIL visited us on a festive occasion and dropped her six month old baby with us to take care as she can’t stay up late in the night with the baby and her MIL wasn’t doing well, I lost it! My blood literally boiled over. This time my MIL had no problem in keeping such a small baby and she refused to take care of my 4 year old child during that one hour in the evening.

I thought a grandchild would make a difference in her behaviour. But she never took interest in my child.

Why such a strong bias! Why such difference between a daughter and a daughter in law. When we raise our daughters to become career conscious individuals, why do we expect our daughters to be perfect
home makers?

This injustice and biased treatment is eating me up. Since we cannot live separately as my hubby is the only son, I have stopped speaking to her. We do not interact other than the basic communication. But the bitterness is still there, hatred is still there. Its affecting me, affecting my relationship with hubby. I have not mentioned here about her manipulations, dirty politics, bad mouthing about me, my parents to my hubby and SIL.

I love my husband but I hate his mother. And after rendering all this mistreatment to me, she wants to prove me guilty to my hubby and other relatives and seek their sympathy. I have lost my hair, my weight, my health due to this. Is there any way out? Will she ever understand and acknowledge what she is doing? What should I do? I am clueless and losing the desire to live.

I cannot divorce my husband, living away from her is not an option. Hubby asks me to ignore and focus on my hobbies. At times I do and at times I lose it and sink into depression again. How to kill this hatred, this bitterness from my heart. I know the damage cannot be undone but how to forgive and start living?

It’s a long letter. But I really felt good writing to you. Would appreciate if you take up this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.

Related Posts:

Please watch Queen, what kind of future was Rani being offered? 

Why are Sons treated unfairly and like ATM machines? – Indusladies.com

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

To an Anonymous DIL

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

“Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. He made it clear that I could have ended in a much worse situation.”

‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

Do you think Indians would value sons the way they do now – praying, fasting and sex selecting to avoid having girl children, if there was no expectation of living with and being cared for by a future daughter in law?

What if the parents knew that they could not control or choose who the son would marry or live with? What would change? 

Sharing an email from an American woman.

Dear IHM,

I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now, ever since I have been dating (now engaged to) an awesome and caring Indian man. Even though I am American, I find some of the topics mentioned on here to be universally relevant and interesting, nonetheless.

I am writing to ask if you could share my story on your blog as soon as you get a chance with your readers so that I can get their opinions/truthful advice.

My situation is as follow:

I am engaged to an Indian man who has been residing here in the US for the last 6 years. He has lived here since he was 24, now he is 30. I am 26. We are getting married in less than a year, and he is honestly an awesome and caring person, whom I care for very much, no doubt! :) I have only met his siblings thus far, and they are awesome and all living outside of India now. His parents are living in India, and I have yet to meet them, but speak to them often on the phone. They seem very sweet, kind, and non intrusive. Everyone, including him, is actually very westernized and liberal-minded, and mostly not very traditional at all, as they reside in a big city. They also have several other family members around them, like their own siblings, nieces and nephews.

Awhile back, we were speaking about different things in life, and a topic came up. He mentioned/asked me how I would feel about his parents living with us when they become old, or maybe even before then, I do not quite remember the conversation to be honest. All I remember responding is how I truly feel about it, which is basically that I do not feel comfortable living like that and am not a believer in that sort of family set up. I believe you marry your spouse and share a home with your spouse, and that’s it. Marriage can be hard enough as it is, never mind adding in other family members into the equation. I am marrying one person, not 3 people, simply put. He is not insisting that this happen, he is simply asking because while no discussion in the family has been spoken yet on this topic, there is a possibility they may just stay where they are or live with his older brother. (He has 1 brother living in the Middle East not far from India and 1 sister here in the US.) I think he basically wants to be able to welcome them into their home if they need it, not necessarily that he is demanding it. He just wants to know they’ll  be taken care of later on, which I suppose is fair.

Now I know this is seen as a “cultural difference”. Indians live with their sons in their old age. My genuine question is why? In my European culture, daughters are actually the ones to care for their aging parents, as they feel more comfortable with daughters versus daughters-in-laws. Americans hire full time care takers for their elders but people remain in separate house from their kids, or in some cases, the same house to cut expenses. In my personal experience, my grandmother lived until 95 years old with a full time care taker and in a house of her own. My mom stopped by everyday for an hour, but lived within 5 minutes of her so that as relatively easy. We do not “abandon” our elders like some people think we do.

Now since I am my parents’ only daughter, I would technically be the one responsible for them in their old age, but simply put, I do not want them living with me either, and that is not to sound cold or callus, but everyone, including elderly, need their own personal space, and mostly, their own privacy. I have already discussed this with my parents and they agree. While they want to be nearby to me, they themselves do NOT want to share a house with my and my future husband, as they know they can be just as well taken care of in a separate house than in the same house.

I genuinely would like to hear people’s thoughts on this and how to handle this with my fiancé in a fair manner. I definitely cannot live with them on a full time permanent basis for the rest of my adult life. As I said earlier, I do not even want my own parents living with me. I just want it to be me, my spouse, and my future children hopefully. My future in laws have been to the US once on a vacation and will come for our wedding in less than a year. So they have not been here very much. Logically, it does not make much sense. We are of 2 different cultures, and things may be uncomfortable for us both. Financially, it definitely doesn’t make sense, as a non US senior citizen is not entitled to medical care or any medical benefits.

I believe this arrangement would cause a big strain on our marriage. My fiancé knows how I feel and that I am uncomfortable with it. He laughs at me and doesn’t really understand where I am coming from, he is a man after all, and they just don’t understand certain things, especially if this is a cultural phenomenon. This just worries me slightly and this is really not an issue you can force on someone. I just wish he understood where I was coming from a bit better and had a but more common sense for all things considered. I do not see many elderly Indian people living in the US permanently anyway, and I am not sure he has even thought all of these logistical issues through.

The bottom line is this: how can I handle this fairly, so that he is not very upset and at the same time, I’m not living in misery? And second, why would people in their 60s (by that time they would be) want to live in a foreign country permanently in their old age? If they wanted to live here, I guess they would have done it long ago. And 3rd, why he is discussing this with me when he has not even discussed this with his siblings or parents? Lastly, please do not misunderstand me to be cold or heartless. I hope they are well taken care of also. They may just have more things in common with their other daughter in law, who is also Indian and also has her own relatives residing there also.

Any advice is appreciated and respected. Please reply.  Thanks so much!!

D.M.

Related Posts:

This email reminded me of  – “If you are lucky you will get an American son-in-law, and if unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law!’

American Woman’s response to comments on her email.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

A marriage arranged by the parents is better because they have experience.

Brave new Indian family or no Indian family? Why Indians resist social changes.

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

100 per cent of the elderly surveyed stated that their daughters-in-law abused them the most.

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

Brave new Indian family or no Indian family? Why Indians resist social changes.

Here’s an email I would like to share. I know these questions worry many other Indians and are the reason why we see resistance to social changes.
Subject: Brave new Indian Family.
Recent interaction and reading on your blog made me wonder a few things. In the new world order (Hypothetical & in India) some important things that come to my mind are:
- Independence of women – should mean – men & women are treated and respected equally. No one has an edge.
- No patriarchy or matriarchy system. But does this mean nuclear family should be the order of the day without  grandparents?
- Men & Women are different biologically and so certain things have to be worked out differently. Like the way we are talking about abortion.E.g.  End of the the day, the physical endurance still have to be of the lady  – whatever may be the decision.
- Marriage or no marriage? Don’t have an answer – but definitely present model of marriage isn’t really working well, but in want of a better system, probably continue?
What bothers me is: 
1. – Grandparents i.e. old people should stay on their own?
2. – Grandparents shouldn’t have any say in their future grandsons/ daughters?
3. – Like in western society kids should move out of the house?
4. – I have even seen suggestions about young couples moving out of the house right after marriage so that husband-wife get to know each other. Fair enough. Should that be the only way? It could be that the girls’/boys’ parents still need a helping hand.
5. – Are we promoting per-marital sex yet at the same time talk of marriage and then – you should be faithful? Looks like we are just letting what westerns do – without understanding the full repercussion of it.
It means that while grandparents can stay in the house but at your terms! – While I do think the newly married couples should be allowed freedom to explore and understand each other – go out as often as they want etc. But necessarily staying away from parents isn’t the only way. I’m also surprised how some people feel grandparents involvement is with intention – to have a stake in the grand children.
Some of these things I believe happens to us, because we live with per-conceived ideas, don’t we? Aren’t there any really nice parents?
Some random lamentations :))