How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

If Indian society and culture does respect mothers, then how does it show this respect?

Do we make an effort to understand how a woman’s life changes forever when she becomes a mother, how her health, body, emotional health and independence is affected? Or do we remind new mothers to make sure they remain attractive for their husbands?

Do women hear of examples of women who didn’t ‘whine‘ and who got back into shape and who got back to working in the fields within a week/month of child birth? Are women advised not to start looking like ‘do bachchon ki amma’?

Before a child is born – is there an effort to tell a woman how her life would change forever once she is a mother? Are women allowed to choose if and when they want to be mothers? Or do we start asking questions if they don’t get pregnant (with male children) when they are expected to?

Do we treat mother’s bodies with respect and care – by making fathers equally responsible for contraception and pregnancy and child-care? (And not just married fathers)

Do we allow mothers to add their own name in their children’s names? Are mothers seen as natural guardians of their own children? Do we complain when workplaces make it easier for mothers to continue working?

Do we ensure mothers (like all other parents) are not forced to choose between self reliance and good health, and motherhood?

Do we realise that the society needs mothers and fathers so that we have a new generation – and realizing this so we make it easier for women to choose motherhood, by ensuring they do not have to give up more than they need to, to be mothers?

How does the Indian society show it’s respect for mothers?

Do we make it difficult for women with children (mothers) to work, divorce or remarry, more than we do for other parents?

Do we penalize women for motherhood by making statements like ‘Pregnancy makes women workers cost-inefficient’?

Edited to add: Please also consider, Kunti’s relationship with Karan and Sita as a single mother.

And, how many empowered mothers-of-daughters can you think of in Hindu mythology?

Related posts:

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

What does it mean to be a mother – Shail

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s body and Willow Smith’s hair.

Belong to themselves.

Here’s what Aishwarya Rai Bachchan said on the TV.

This is reality, this is who I am, I am a mother, this can happen, and it happened with me and it is fine. That’s life you know, I have never been the one who endorsed size zero anyways, you guys speculated I was pregnant way before I was so many times, so this goes to show that I have lived the real live in the public eye and that continues, and there are a lot of people out there who realize that and share that energy with me and that’s what matters really.

I hope we see more women who refuse to mold their lives and bodies to fit into prevalent notions of what is acceptable. It must be annoying for Aishwarya to watch her post pregnancy body being dissected, but she hasn’t missed that a huge majority is supportive of her.  Maybe a huge majority is sick of being told exactly how much to weigh to be considered beautiful.

How different is this from the young woman in Jean Sasoon’s ‘Daughters of Arabia’ defiantly refusing to show her teeth for inspection to her prospective in laws?

And then one hears about how her being thin is important for her career. But why do some careers require women to look unreal? I think, Aishwarya Rai, like Vidya Balan might discover that there’s a huge audience for movies with beautiful women who look like real women.

For example, in the TOI article the comment on her weight gain has thumbs down while the supportive ‘Go Aish’ has got thumbs up. :)

Nandini shared this inspiring link. This is for all parents.

Here’s Will Smith describing why he let’s his daughter do anything she wants with her hair.

“We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.”

Do you disagree with him? I think that’s how we teach children and future women, to claim their own selves – bodies and minds.

Related Posts

How do you celebrate yourself?
Foot binding – Part 2/3: The pain and the pleasure
Foot binding – Part 1/3: A search for perfection
Footbinding – Part 3/3: The End of an Era

An email: ‘What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom…’

Sharing an email from a-sad-daughter.

I am a 29 year old woman, married with a kid.
This is regarding my Mom.
I do really adore, love and respect her. She is a strong and confident lady who will never think twice about what she wants to say and that is the only thing which is making me loose my peace whenever I meet her.

A little about my Mom here. She comes from a big family and she got married at a young age of 18.
Her thirst for education made her finish her graduation after marriage; while she was also busy having kids.
My father ; though a good person; is not a very ideal husband (nobody is ofcourse). He never allowed my Mom to stay at her Mom’s place even when she delivered kids for more than 11 days.
My mom slogged and brought us up. She was never taken out on fun trips by my Dad.

Time flew and my Sister who was doing her Masters abroad fell in love and got married without the consent of the boy’s parents.
We didn’t get to attend her marriage.
Much more years passed and I graduated. My Mom started to have doubts that I would end up in love like my sister. She was not happy if I spoke to boys.
I didn’t go for MS in USA for the same reason.
Finally I agreed upon marriage at the age of 22 just for the sake of making her happy. (I do agree that I am happily married now but marriage was not on mind at that age)
She selected the boy and the wedding happened. I had to move to another city as my husband worked there.

So the issue is my Mom is always upset about her daughters.

Is it wrong for my sister to choose a person whom she loved? But I didn’t go my sister’s way and married according to my Mom’s choice.
Nevertheless she seems to have issues with both of us.
That we both do not love her. She says that accusing me that I never called her to my city and showed her places around.

I did call her and my dad multiple times; invited them. She says I didn’t book her flight tickets and insist that she board the flight and come.
Now this thought didn’t hit my stupid brain.
She did visit me thrice though. Once when she had to drop me when I was newly married; once when my husband was flying to USA and one more time. She accuses that I didn’t take her around and cared for her enough these three times. But the truth is I was not in a situation myself to take her around those three times.The timing was wrong.

She keeps comparing me with all my neighbors, cousins daughters who take their parents around.
Once said is enough. I even apologised to her.
But she keeps tormenting me with the same issue again and again; whenever I visit her.
She also accuses me saying that I only visit her when I NEED her.
I was recently at my Mom’s place for 7 months as I was pregnant and we moved to my mom’s city. (Also my in-laws are already in their 70′s and they cant help me).
She says she helped me with my 3 months pregnancy and 3 months daughter only because its her duty.
She says she doesn’t love me because I don’t love her.
She keeps digging the past and the small mistakes I made when I was a fresh graduate.

She keeps saying all these but still keeps thinking about us.
Also my mom has an orthopedic issue and she cant walk and run like others; that doesn’t mean she cant walk at all; she just needs help.

When I ask her on phone if she is doing well; she feels I am faking it and only asking because I need her to be healthy only to help me again.
All in all I am, according to her, a selfish bitch who does not care or love for her Mother.

Another sad thing is her hatred towards her daughters has increased her love towards my brother (younger one).
He recently started working and is single yet.
He is a Momma’s boy and hence he hates both his sisters thanks to my Mom.
She thinks he is the only one who loves and respects her.

All these accusations make me sad and I am scared to visit my Mom’s place.
It is a sad situation which no daughter should experience.

What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom and which would make her realize that I do love her.
Please do post this on your blog.
I would like to hear others’ perspective as well on this issue and try to learn from my mistakes.

Thanks,
A-sad-daughter

An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?

I am sharing an email from An IT Professional. I know of other couples who have faced the same dilemma.

Now coming to my question, we have been married for 1.5 years now (and have been living all by ourselves in USA ever since). We are busier than we would like to be. But that is because we take extra care of our health. We spend a lot of time at the gym and cooking healthier food vs quick fixes. We do not have rules or any particular pattern during weekends. We do not eat a fixed no of meals everyday or limit any food to any particular time of the day. There are weekends where we party thru the night and sleep thru the next day. Highly unacceptable for most of the people.

Our parents have been supremely disappointed in us that we never got pregnant. First  three months the mothers would ask about my periods, I was irritated and told I will tell you guys when something happens. That stopped the explicit questions for a while only to resume in different forms. Most of my girlfriends have kids, which do not help! None of his friends have kids, but that does not help. Now they seem to be frustrated /angry… They have actually commented that after marriage we have been behaving such that we just need ourselves.

Neither of us has decided not to have a baby. We have only decided to do it later, may be in
another year. We both realize that it is a life changing event. But not sure how much of a change it would be. We have never been with anyone going thru pregnancy/delivery/and raising a kid. We treat this whole issue as stepping into the unknown territory. Neither of the parents would come and stay with us.

Our jobs keep us away from the places they chose to settle down. Now even if we were to have a baby now, it would be only us going thru the whole thing and they may just visit us for couple of months. We don’t want to have a baby because they want a grand kid. We want to have a baby when we totally want a baby. That’s the only way we can endure the whole process with grace and love the baby itself.

Though I feel we are doing the right thing, there is a bit of a doubt somewhere that makes me want to hear a third person’s thoughts.

What I want to is understand their feeling.

What makes them crave for grand kids whom they can’t see or be with?

What makes them pressurize their own kids for something like this?

Also if you could help me… What exactly does parenthood bring with it?

How does sex life change post parenthood?

What else should I be aware of?

How does it change ones work?

I like to be aware of pros and cons before leaping into something.

Regards,

An IT Professional

‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

I would watch any intimacy – even if it’s not very obviously sexual, between an adult and a child. I have blogged about how I had made sure my kids knew they had a right to complain if an adult’s touch, behavior, jokes or just looks made them uncomfortable. [Link] But if two young children (say ages 12-13 or younger) are found to be involved in non-penetrative sexual activity I would rather question the parents and other care givers than ask for the children to be treated like criminals.

There is a chance that they have been exposed to sexual abuse or some activity they do not quite understand. And even if it is felt that the children do understand (ages 12-15), I wonder if it’s a good idea to empower ‘the authorities’ to handle young children at this sensitive stage in their lives.

One has seen enough examples of how our police and some of our media handles any activity where sex is involved (Not to miss how this news has been reported, and on the front page). I remember the time when some of our media, used one such opportunity to ‘recreate the scene of crime‘… and their TRPs.

Here’s more reasons.

1. We are averse to Sex Education, so we refuse to guide children about anything related to sex. We’d rather change TV channels. Most Indians learn about sex from rape scenes in Bollywood movies, cheap porn and through their peer group.

2. But we are fine with 12 year olds being seen as criminals for something we are not comfortable even talking to them about?

3. And so, we are unhappy with the idea of decriminalizing an activity they are too young to completely understand the implications of being involved in. (taboo; social stigma for girls; emotional, cultural and moral issues involved; family-honor; responsible behavior etc).

4. Criminalizing such activity increases the risk of children being blackmailed into sexual abuse (by adults who ‘catch‘ them, like teachers, drivers, neighbors, ‘authorities’ etc) with threats of not just parental anger, but now also, legal action against them.

And this when they don’t really understand how seriously our society takes any activity related to sex. :roll:

Aparna Bhat, a Supreme Court lawyer who was part of a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights group that drafted the latest Bill said the gradation of age down to 12 years was to decriminalise sexual exploration by two children.

I don’t think the ‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’, it simply wants to ensure they are not treated like regular criminals for something they can’t completely understand.

Under the existing law, if two 12-year-olds get physical and if one childs parent complains, the other can be pulled up by the Juvenile Justice Board. The panel felt such minor things should be decriminalised, she said.

This does not make 12 years the ‘Age of Consent’. An adult will still be seen as a rapist if they have sex with a 12 year old, but if two 12 year olds are involved, they will be seen as two 12 year olds, not as regular criminals.

Raaj Mangal, chairperson of Delhi Child Welfare Committee said the Bill could prove “disastrous“ if it comes into effect. “Twelve, given the mind and maturity of a child, is not an age to give consent, be it penetrative or non-penetrative sex. In the name of decriminalising, you can`t keep sexual acts between children out of the notice of the authorities,“ said Mangal.

Should the likes of those who see Sex Education as ‘Blue Films’, have the power to judge sexual activity between two 12 year olds? Why not let the parents deal with non penetrative sex,  just like they deal with most other issues related to their children? (including Sex Education)

 

Related Posts:

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture.

Sex Education is not Blue Films.

It’s child abuse, not an affair.

When life ends at 12.

Irresponsible girls who throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person…

In response to “Don’t let me down dear daughter!”, a comment expressed this opinion.

“In defense of parents – and while absolutely hating my parents for their emotional blackmail – I do see where they might come from. I have seen innumerable girls (and sadly this still applies to girls in our society) throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person.

These girls typically run away with the first guy who gathers enough courage to ask them out the first time. Typically this guy does not have a great value system, any sense of responsibility, any education,ambition, willingness to improve their lot in life, respect for women and so on and on. As a result, the said girl either lives her life in grief or returns to her parents home where none of guys among us will marry her anymore.
I have seen way too many examples of such irresponsible behaviour and so do not have any hopes of parents granting girls “freedom” within bounds.

As they say, it is the limitation that defines any freedom.”


I was going to delete this but further comments indicated that this was written in all seriousness.

My response:

I wonder why don’t we consider guiding these daughters instead of locking them up. That’s a more reliable ‘protection’. But is it really about protecting the girl from unhappiness? I don’t think so, because we don’t kill to protect.

Also…

Strangely, this  protection is only from falling in love (etc.) – not from violence, being burnt alive, abuse, murder or rape in their marital homes, even if this home is chosen by the parents.

Can an intelligent adult be expected to blindly trust such hypocrisy?

If the arguments given are honest and logical. If caste, community and the neighbour’s father in laws’ third cousin’s  opinion are not the reason given for rejection of a partner a daughter (so lustfully!) chooses.  Then the opinion of the elders would be considered worth taking. The parents have to earn this trust.

Sometimes girls are pushed into running away to escape forced-marriages or other problems at home. If the family accepts and supports their choices, girls won’t be forced to run away, they will see their home as their sanctuary and support system – as the place one always wants to come back to.

Assuming they do choose badly, could it be because they were not allowed to form independent opinions or choices?  While anybody can make a mistake  (including the parents) – some basic guidelines could make choosing easier for the daughters, but parents don’t want to hear of girls choosing their own partners.  They would rather kill them. One Khap supporter claimed only prostitutes choose their own partners.

When the parents arrange a marriage, do they always choose well?

Giribala said, ‘Freedom to obey’ is not ‘freedom.’ And when the obedient girl marries the person of her parents’ choice, she gets the ‘freedom to obey’ for the rest of her life!’

Freedom to obey also means, they can’t come back home.  Sometimes they must adjust till they die. Sometimes they kill themselves, sometimes they  are burnt to death, sometimes they are sixty before they realize they can’t go on. They are told their happiness depends on their luck. Does this make a daughter see the parents as her genuine well wishers?  Think about it, would you trust someone who says it’s your Destiny to live an unhappy life and your Duty to serve those who make life unlivable for you?

Social conditioning has such powers – some girls do.

Some rebel.

They can see that if they are old enough to get married then they are also old enough to choose their partners. Nobody has more right to decide who they marry than the girls themselves…

Sounds like common sense? But we tend to put custom (i.e. old habits ) over common sense.

There are some with unlimited freedom to control other citizen’s lives . It seems Gujarat  government has forgotten that these citizens are voters too.

GANDHINAGAR/SURAT: The Gujarat government has asked courts not to register marriages unless there’s parental consent in writing. (Click to read – Thanks for this link Desi Girl)

Don’t let me down dear daughter!

Or else…

A friend once said she was very liberal and gave her daughter plenty of freedom, with a reminder, that she trusted her and did not expect the child to ‘let her down’.

Terms like ‘trust’, ‘freedom’ and ‘letting down’ made it sound like a warning  Guidance and support towards self reliance, encouragement and acceptance would have been more appropriate, I feel.

How does  a child tell such parents that she disagrees? What if she does not succeed is being obedient? And, if she does make a bad choice? It looked more like the parents were letting down the child.

‘Freedom to obey’ is not ‘freedom’.

The children are  reminded that if they take decisions on their own – like a daughter marrying a person of her choice, she mustn’t come back home if there is a problem. (Another threat.)

And if she marries someone they choose and there is abuse? Can she come back home then? We know she can’t.

How do their ‘trust’  and their expectations help the child lead a better life? Or were they not really thinking of the child’s happiness - in which case should the child trust them?

Trust.

Sangeeta from Gurjjar community, knew her family would not allow her to marry Ravinder Kataria, a Jaatav boy, she  had met in her Computer classes.

This February they married in court and also  in an Arya Samaj Temple.

‘They decided not to declare their marriage until they succeeded in convincing their families to approve it‘ and ‘continued to stay at their respective houses’.

When her family members started looking for a groom for her, Sangeeta had to tell them about her marriage.

It is easy to imagine the reactions… Such boldness must have been seen as a bad  example for other girls in the family. The news mentions many uncles, a brother, father and mother.

She managed to go to her husband’s home, but her family persuaded her to come back with them to return on 18th July after a grand wedding to save their name (honor). The couple wanted their blessings so they must have been relieved.

Ravindra lost all contact with his wife after that. Suspecting foul play, on July 13th he lodged a complaint with the police.

The Noida police launched an investigation and recovered the skeletal remains of the girl from the fields and arrested four persons, including her brother and father. The accused have confessed to the killing, police said.

In a post about a Delhi girl who died in suspicious circumstances, a commenter had said the girl betrayed her parents’ trust, she was sent to study, not to choose a life partner. Does it sound like we are talking about an adult citizen living in a  Democratic nation? Indian parents need to learn that they do not own their children, they do not ‘give them freedom’ – and they have no right to take it away.

(Details of the news from [Link 1 ],  [Link 2] ,[Link 3], [Link 4 ]& [Link 5])

Related post: Perfect parenting in 55 words

So what do our children owe us?

This is a part of a longer discussion.

IHM: We Indians go out of our way to prevent marriages where a man and a woman have chosen each other… (so called, ‘Love marriages’).

Somebody-I-do-not-agree-with says

‘In India man and woman are considered sub set of family, which is in turn considered a sub set of community. Individuals who want to opt out of being such subset of subset should eschew related benefits too.

Community living is a responsibility; while it provides enormous advantages to its members through strength of relationship, it also requires the members to reciprocate, to foster the customs of the community and to strengthen it.

….

If these two ‘willing people’ are swayambhus, i.e., people who took birth on their own and grew up by themselves, let them do whatever they want.
But if they have been brought up by a community, they owe something to that community, they owe not to put their selfish interest above reasonable community practices.” (click for an example of one such reasonable community practice)

IHM :

I have some questions here,

1. Are the members free to opt out if they eschew the related benefits?

2. Do all members benefit or only those who are in positions of power? I fear some family politics and financial status might decide who is in power.

3. Who decides if the practices are reasonable? Those who benefit from the practices, or those who must sacrifice?

I know a lot of Indians believe this. What do you think? What do the children owe to their parents?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

Our grandmothers didn’t suffer from Mommy Guilt. These liberal ideas about children’s rights and child psychology are not a part of our ancient history.

Our grand dads had no such complexes either. In my dad’s time it was perfectly normal to beat children and lock them up in dark rooms without dinner.  Mothers beat them too, sometimes simply because they needed to vent.

Parenting was about sacrifices then – give birth, keep nine months in the womb, feed mother’s milk, plan their future, always want the best for them.

In return they wanted only that you do as you were told.

The guilt belonged to the child not the parents.

Ours is the land of Sravan Kumar. And Dashratha. And Ram who exiled his unborn twins.  Not to mention Bhishma, who swore celibacy to repay his father’s sacrifices.

Raja Harishchandra sold his son as a slave, a teenaged Kunti was given the responsibility of taking care of Durvasa known for his temper. No over protection in those days.

In more recent times Rani Laxmibai was married at 9, to a 45 year old King. Childhood didn’t matter then.

We sent child widows to vidhva ashrams. We gave girl children up as devdasis.

These were the norms then. Parenting was easier before Mommy-Guilt.  Even in the west.

One of my maids told me her mother had sent her away to be adopted by a couple who agreed to pay for her – but she cried so much she had to be brought back. Who felt guilty? The inconvenient child.

We haven’t changed much, but now modern ideas of child rights, control our expectations from our children. Like one hears, “If it goes on like this, we will find children calling 911 every time we raise our hands on them.”

Before Mommy-Guilt mothers left babies in cradles hanging from a tree and worked in fields, fetched water etc – if the baby cried an older sibling took care (still does). Children worked in the fields too. Babies fell in wells and ponds. (still do). Richer babies had nannies and nurse maids while mothers took care of whatever was their priority. No momma-guilt.

Then women became westernized, started earning and becoming selfish. Children started being neglected. Mothers (and fathers also) started wondering if they were doing the right thing. And thus was born, Mommy Guilt!

It isn’t such a bad thing though… read all about it here :)

From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

This post was selected by BlogAdda as one of the top posts for this week’s ‘Spicy Saturday Picks’.

Blogadda's Spicy Saturday Picks

I am publishing this comment and my response to it, from ‘How Important is it for a girl to get married?’ because I agree with Ramit when he says, ” IHM This topic that has been raised by Anonymous, needs a separate post in itself so other girls can relate to it too and get a few pointers to stand up. It’s high time they need to stand up… Unbelievable that India has put men on the moon and our mother in laws even after migrating to London are still living in the 15th century! Utter crap!

Here’s the comment.

Dear IHM,

I am a 24 yr old newly wedded girl. got married 4 months ago and moved to the UK with my husband. i know this is a problem every indian DIL faces and I guess I am falling in to it too. my family is very liberal and they do not really believe in following all the customs that the entire world harps on. My inlaws on the other hand are super duper orthodox and for them every custom under the Sun is important no matter how inconvenient it is for the other person. My MIL like any son’s mother thinks that I am the luckiest girl on earth because her son decided to marry me. because her son is in the UK and he is the only one in their family to be living abroad, whereas in my family, every second person is in some part of the word other than India so to me its not a big deal at all! in fact i refused to marry this guy because he is not in India but since everyone in my family insisted that they know this guy very well and I got convinced after speaking to him a zillion times that he is genuinely good at heart.

Now my MIL has a typical characteristic trait of pointing out everything. Even if you miss a small safety pin that was supposed to be given to her or her daughter from my parents’ side, she does not waste a single moment in pointing it out and making it obvious that she is unhappy because the “custom” has been broken. Her daughter is the world to her. I am the world to my parents too but she is a little weird. During the entire wedding, she was not anywhere near us. Kept insisting my SIL stays with us all the time coz she is the daughter of the house. And made sure my SIL and her husband were served everything properly. She does not care if anyone else is not properly taken care of, but with her daughter no chance! So much that once they had their invitations ready, they sent it to my SIL first got her approval and then bothered to send it to my husband coz his approval was not necessarily important though he was the groom.

Somehow, the wedding went on very well with the help and support of a lot of family and friends. Now when I was moving to the UK, I’d left all my jewelry, silver and gifts at my parents’ place. Somehow I was not very comfortable leaving them with my inlaws coz my MIL tries to find fault with everything she sees. In some piece she will think the design is not good or she will say that we should never buy gold at a jewelry shop but make sure we get it made by a goldsmith etc etc. So since I would not be around, I did not want my mom to listen to all her nagging everytime she met my inlaws. Even though my mom asked my MIL if she wants her to get all the gifts and all and leave it here. I did not want her to ask about the gold though.

My question # 1:

Is it not my choice about what I want to do with my things? Do I have to seek my MIL’s permission for everything I do to “my” stuff? Each and every piece of that jewelry has been bought by my parents. None of it is what my inlaws gave me. The stuff they gave me is with me here. But do I have to take her permission before deciding what I want to keep with me and what I don’t? My parents will definitely not need my jewelry. They have enof of their own.

Now coming to it, she has spoken to a common friend of my family and his family recently. She has very conveniently told him that she has no idea what I have done with all the silver items (including 2 sets of thali and glass gifted by my parents) I had and all my jewelry. She tried to convey that she thinks I have given even the thalis and all to my parents and they are happily living on it. The thalis and glasses are as a matter of fact with me and with her proper knowledge coz she was pissed off when I said I want to take them with me. My whole point was I did not see any sense in keeping them safe at home when we could make proper use of it everyday over here. )

Question # 2:

Is it right on her part to speak like this about me and my parents in front of a third person? Is she not kind of insulting me and my parents?

Now the more interesting part, my SIL’s husband does not have any family of his own. His parents passed away years ago and his elder brother and all are only for the sake of being there. So all that my SIL had are at her parents’ place. So she has a valid reason to leave everything with her parents. Now for everything my MIL has one excuse that since my parents dont know all these customs, she is trying to tell them the customs.

I had no intentions of having any ill feeling towards my in laws but this is making me very very sad. I wept all of yesterday and as soon as my husband came home, he realised something is wrong with me. He managed to get me spill out everything (and i am cursing myself for it), spoke to his mom, my mom and tried to convince me that his mom is only trying to tell us the customs and all. He is otherwise very understanding. he knows how his mom has a very weird character and tells me the same thing but when it comes to this particular issue, he says it was a casual talk between my MIL and that common friend and he took the liberty to call up my parents and speak to them about it. What I dont understand is if this ‘casual talk’ was a month ago, why did that man call my parents now and speak to them? I am a new DIL and so I am not supposed to question anyone. All I am supposed to do is keep quiet and see my parents being nagged every now and then because they did not some custom about a piece of haldi or a saree that was supposed to be given.

Question # 4 :

Is that all my parents are supposed to do all the time? Keep giving things to me and my husband? They do give us a lot but is there no break to it? Do they have keep giving us gifts all their life? They have already done enof for us, is it not our turn to make sure they have everything they need and care for their wellbeing (including his parents). Is a piece of jewelry and a set of clothes the only way to show they love us and care for us?

Question #5:

My parents still dont have an account of how much they might have spent for my wedding coz his parents wanted a grand ceremony because they were not taking any dowry. I’d already told my parents that I dont mind staying single all my life but I don’t want them to pay a single penny as dowry. I am beautiful, educated, had a very very good job and I am self sufficient in all ways. There is no need for someone like me to get married by giving dowry etc. My husband also was very particular that he did not want anything as dowry. So since there was no dowry in question they wanted the event to be a grand one. My parents wanted the same thing and so they made sure everything was remarkably exotic much against my wishes coz I dont see the whole point in spending so much money on something which lasts just a day or 2. Is a simple ceremony not worth enof to get married?

I am soo disappointed now that I can’t express it in words. I wanted a family where human values are more important than customs. Thankfully, to my husband all that matters is human values and feelings but I am very disappointed by his parents coz I realised that for them customs play a higher role than human values.

I wanted to spill it all out coz I am just not able to take it anymore. I am a regular reader of ur blog and all I could think of was you when my mind went completely blank.

Please help me.

From
Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

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And my response.

Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter I was thinking maybe this should be published as a post … it’s such a typical situation!
At 24, and when you are married, you should be left alone and not suffocated with such controls!

I am amazed women achieve so much despite such cruel and horrible circumstances. Just be brave, remember that you are absolutely justified in wanting to be free of such controls, and you are NOT WRONG in expecting your parents to be treated with respect and basic decency. Malicious gossip against a DIL’s family is not something a girl can be expected to respect. And what you do with your jewelery is upto you, even if you do sell it or give it away she can only express an opinion – no matter what our conditioning tells us, it is wrong to to try to control another adult’s life. She is also trying to control her adult, and married, son’s life.

The sons grow up and are conditioned to believe that since mothers only want what is best for them, it is fine if they also want to monitor their entire lives.

This is where Joint Family and patriarchy are so wrong.

And don’t feel guilty if common sense tells you this is wrong, just because somebody is older or is a spouse’s parent, they do not automatically become right.

Expecting your parents to keep spending is wrong; discussing them with anybody, least of all mutual contacts, is not going to build bridges. Discussing you is immature and cruel, and I think if they really care for the son’s happiness, then it is essential that his wife is shown respect… your MIL does not seem to realise that no man can be really happy if his wife is treated like this. Happy wives make happy families.

Don’t feel guilty – you are right, and tell your parents to be stronger, I always say, Strong parents have happy daughters.

Don’t give in to such controlling, keep your jewelery where ever you prefer to keep it.  And quite definitely not with your MIL. Not even if it means a lot to her (Why should it mean a lot to her?). Not even if it makes her feel you love her like your mother. Not even to please your husband. Keep it pleasant but be firm. Maybe just smile and change the topic.

You could tell your mom in law or husband that even if this is done in every next house, you do not like such indulgences in petty gossiping. Convey that you may find it difficult to show respect to  your mom in law unless she (and he also) show the same respect to your parents.

No harmony is possible unless their is justice. Bitterness and oppression can not bring peace. Be tactful, remain polite and respectful, keep your cool …. but do not accept such treatment.

I wish you (or any human) didn’t have to go through this, but since you have to …

Also ask your husband to remember you also have the same feelings, how would he like to be treated EXACTLY the same way by your parents? If parents love their children, shouldn’t they be nice to their spouse too…?

He cannot keep speaking to his mom on your behalf – she will start calling him a JKG. he just has to very clearly let her see that he will not allow his family to treat his wife shabbily, when a husband stands by his wife, nobody from his family bothers her.

Take a look at this post,

No jeans for an Indian Daughter in law.

Two more posts by Unmana you may like to read,

In-Law Advice: What Husbands Should Do

In-Law Advice: What Wives Should Do

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Response continued,

@Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter, Of course human values are more important than any customs … in fact the only purpose of all customs is to bring us together and make us happy, ‘customs’ by themselves are of no other value, don’t get bogged by all these thing that you forget that these are the best years of your life, remind your husband also.

I fear sometimes elders use customs to show they know more or know better … I feel bad for them, maybe they feel you know more in some other ways so at least here they can show some superiority .

Newer customs will be brought in by newer generation … we  will  change with times, so will the customs.
You will be fine, be brave … hugs, God bless, IHM