Relationships – Making Someone Happy

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

There are times when we do things hoping to make someone else happy. I’ve made my children’s favorite dishes countless times over the years. I’ve recalled that a certain teacher likes the Chai Latte at Pete’s Coffee and Tea. I had bought her a bag of this tea when I wanted to appreciate her for her dedication. When my best friend turned 40, I looked everywhere for a copy of Tagore’s Fireflies to get her a birthday present that would mean something to her.

And then, there are times when we try to make someone happy and it takes us down a very self-defeating path. I remember this friend who was not quite committed to our friendship. I mistook her last minute cancellations for genuine personal problems and felt protective toward her. I would listen intensely to her problems, and think about them, and offer helpful suggestions. I did not realize that she very rarely listened to me or cared about what was going on in my life. I mistook her flakiness for innocence and an inability to defend herself. A little late into the friendship, I realized that she would show up only when nothing else was going on in her life. While I would put our meetings on the calendar and fit things around them. Once I began to see her for who she really was (not evil, and nothing personal about her callousness, but just an inability to be someone solid, reliable, and committed to anything), I put an end to our friendship without a fight. I simply told her it wasn’t working.

The above situation is inevitable in relationships – we trust people sometimes, assume they are true to their word and when we learn otherwise, we distance and protect ourselves.  A relationship is like a dance – sometimes it’s smooth and comes together beautifully.  Sometimes it’s awkward.  Sometimes, we start stepping on each other’s toes – and then it’s time to stop and assess what’s happening.

So what happens when we don’t protect ourselves? What happens when we try to mend the relationship by doing more and more while getting back less and less? We are setting ourselves up for manipulation and abuse. In these instances, the more we try to make the other person happy, the less happy we ourselves become. Because their happiness comes at a cost of ours.

This is what I was thinking of when reading some recent emails on this blog. Women in our culture are taught at a very early age to put others’ happiness ahead of theirs. This makes them easy targets for manipulation and abuse.

But it doesn’t just have to happen in abusive relationships or just with women. It can happen at the workplace or with friendships – with both men and women – trying to make someone else happy or trying to make someone proud of us comes at a cost to our own happiness and is invariably detrimental to our relationships and our emotional health.

Yet this self-damaging behavior (varying in intensity) is exceedingly common. Students compete hard to get into the best colleges rather than to pursue something they find interesting in a less than top-notch college. Employees try hard to please their bosses and become disheartened at their criticism. People try to impress their neighbors and friends with better cars, better houses, and better clothes. People have multiple surgeries to stretch their skin free of wrinkles. Some people earn so much money but it is never enough. They are still working on landing a better deal, a better job, a better yacht, and a better life.

It almost seems as if it is human nature to try to win the approval of others, and in doing so, we set ourselves up for misery. No one can claim that they haven’t tried to win someone’s approval somewhere in the teeniest possible way.

Where does this begin, this need for approval?

Survival Instincts

It probably starts with trying to please our parents. When we are little, our parents provide us with every need. We depend on them for our survival. We feel secure when we see them, the guardians of our world, happy. Bringing a smile to their faces seems to trigger the pleasure centers in our brain.

I remember how I would fear my parent’s disappointment more than my own, when I received a bad grade on a test. I also remember a particular day when I went on stage to receive a trophy in a debate tournament. I did not think much of my trophy because I felt the topic was predictable. The event felt special because my father, who had to travel a lot, was in town and was able to attend. As soon as I took it, I searched the audience for my father’s face. I found him smiling and clapping. Even though there were many people in the room, they all just blanked out for me. All I saw was my father’s proud face. Why was his approval more important to me that my own reaction?

Our parents have been given something precious – this tiny bit of power – to mold a life – and power can be intoxicating. They begin to teach us, influence us, shape us. Much of this happens with good hearts and intentions. (I’m referring here to non-toxic parenting.)  And yet some part of parenting begins to create certain expectations that don’t necessarily value the individual at hand.

A Habit That’s Hard to Break

And thus, our parents have naturally set the stage for seeking approval. When we ace a test, we see tour parents smile, and we want to keep acing tests so badly. When we do badly on a test, we get heart broken. And this sets in motion a pattern of earning approval and being rewarded for it.

Earning approval suppresses the self because the rewards are external. – a pattern that some of us eventually break out of, when we realize that setting our own goals, self-assessing our own efforts, and asserting our individuality is the more genuine way to happiness.

Some people, however, continue this pattern and extend it to other authority figures (after they outgrow their parental home). They must gain approval from their neighbors, their friends, their in-laws. They must keep others happy. It’s now a habit that’s hard to break.

It takes them on a path where they’ve forgotten who they are and what they want. Even though the approval they get feels good in the short run, the conditions for approval keep changing, and it’s a hard game to keep up with. Human beings are insatiable creatures – give them control and they keep wanting more. The person seeking approval gets caught in a web of someone else’s greed and insecurities.

The Need to Belong

Human beings are mostly social creatures and thrive in groups.  Sometimes we seek approval because we want to belong in a group. The group gives us warmth, affection, camaraderie, fun, and in return, we give the group back conformity. In college, I belonged to a group of girls who wore mostly Western clothes. (I didn’t think deeply about my clothing choices, I just wore what I liked and my parents didn’t have strong opinions on the matter.) And being similar in other ways made us gravitate toward each other. We also spoke comfortably in English and belonging to different states made the English speaking a necessity.   There were 2 girls in my group that spoke condescendingly about other girls who appeared more traditional in their dressing choices. They also made fun of other people’s (English) accents. This wasn’t good-natured fun, this was clearly ‘I’m better than you’ kind of talk. I felt uncomfortable with this talk but never protested.

I was not assertive enough in my 20s to say, “She has the right to wear what she wants. Stop judging her.” Or “If you think her English is so funny, let’s hear you talk in French.” Or “The gist of what she’s saying in imperfect English has far more depth than your superficial Gibberish.”

This is not to say the group was all bad.  We had a great time discussing books, watching old B&W movies, solving made-up mysteries, dancing to “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”, making fun of each other, falling in love with Mr. Darcy, and singing “I have Confidence in Me” at the top of our voices until the neighbors protested.

I was afraid of losing their friendship. I was going against my beliefs (that we respect other people’s choices and abilities) and ‘blending in’ to preserve the relationship. A lot had changed for me over the next 20 years – as I gradually learnt to speak my mind and openly advocate for my values and beliefs, without losing valuable friendships. But it took time and effort. It didn’t just happen.

Dependence and Fear

If a woman is financially dependent on her husband and in-laws, she may do things that go against her value system, to keep them happy. This is not just a matter of survival. This is also something that is driven by fear. Although survival is an issue here, there are solutions. There are means and ways to garner supports, get skills/education, find a job, file for divorce, and free oneself from this prison. It is not an easy path and it is strewn with hardship, but it’s not impossible. What is much harder to overcome is the fear – a fear that is induced my sheer numbers – parents and in-laws, neighbors, extended family, and friends acting against one person. It feels like the whole world is telling you that you need to adjust, you should know your place, you have to earn your basic rights, and to please quit complaining.

Fear makes people try hard to win hearts, a venture that is bound to fail, because people who need to be “won over” are never worth it.

Nature

Some of us hate conflict.  Others take it head on.  Some of us worry about how others feel.  Others don’t.  When my brother and I used to fight in our teens, we would sometimes stop talking.  I would cry all night and analyze my every word and action and try to look for something I did wrong and look at the situation from both his side and mine.  He would sleep through the night blissfully.  It’s not that he didn’t (or doesn’t) love me.  But I think I worked much harder at our relationship than he did.  Even now, I work harder at my other relationships than he does with the people in his life.  I can’t just sleep through the night when I fight with someone.  This makes me vulnerable to some degree.

Can We Break Out of This?

So, what can we do to watch out for this behavior? Some people seem to have a natural ability to resist it. They may have been born assertive, outspoken, and seem to always be able to prioritize their wishes, desires, and happiness. What can we do if this is not our first instinct? How can we protect ourselves and safeguard our personal happiness?

Make a conscious decision to love yourself.

In many cultures, children are taught that loving oneself is selfishness. This is such a mistaken notion. If we are unable to love ourselves, we can’t truly love others. If we judge ourselves harshly, we are more likely to judge others. If we disrespect ourselves, we become insecure and resentful of other people.  If we despair over every mistake of ours, we are more likely to see other’s mistakes as permanent failures.  If we see our mistakes as growth, we tend to be more forgiving of others’ faults.  Therefore understanding that it all begins with us is the first step.

Get to know yourself.

What do you like and dislike? What makes you uncomfortable? What do you fear? What gets you excited? How do you typically react in a given situation? Many of us have never been asked these questions, growing up. We’ve often been TOLD how to feel. As adults, we may continue to fumble when presented with various situations.   We wonder – How should I react? How am I supposed to react? “Maybe, it’s not okay to get angry when someone tells me to wake up earlier. Maybe, I’m the one being unreasonable.” When we don’t know ourselves, we don’t know what we want. Then we don’t know what to fight for.

Understand boundaries.

This is something we don’t learn, growing up in India, and other similar cultures. I grew up in a house full of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Everyone used everyone’s things. This wasn’t ‘sharing’ or ‘generosity’. It was mostly inconsiderate behavior. Those who were pushy got more, the nicer ones got less, as a result of this no-boundaries environment.

My parents bought me a scooter when I turned 16. I took good care of it and used it responsibly. My older cousin began ‘borrowing’ it and I was expected to ‘share and be nice’ and I did. Then he would use it roughly and it began needing more and more repairs. Sometimes he would bring it home with not a drop of gas left in it. Sometimes I didn’t have it on hand when I really needed it (when I went for tutoring). When I questioned him on these things, he told me that since he’s a boy, he should have more access to it because, he can go out late and run errands and help the family. My parents didn’t want to fight with his parents over it. The result was someone getting away with inconsiderate, irresponsible, selfish behavior.

Keep track of the cost to yourself.

When you deny yourself your rights – the right to ownership (in my scooter example), the right to respect for one’s own time (in the example of my friend who stood me up often) – then we are entering the area of unfairness and unhappiness. This crossing over often goes unnoticed. Being aware of this boundary alerts us to someone impinging on our rights and taking advantage of us.

Understand that being nice is still okay.

You don’t have to be rude or loud or mean to stand up for yourself. But you do have to be firm. And you have to be unequivocal with your communication.

Don’t say, “Can you please not use my computer?” to your children, especially after you told them it’s off limits. Instead say, “Don’t use my computer. It’s not okay to use other people’s devices without their permission.” If you see something as a violation of a boundary, say it in no uncertain terms. And say it like you mean it. You are not asking or requesting. You are telling someone what you think and that you intend to stand by it.

Assess your relationships from time to time.

Stepping on each other’s toes?  Frequently unhappy?  More and more conversations leaving a bad taste in your mouth?  Take a step back and try to be objective. As yourself, “Am I getting something valuable out of this relationship? Is there give and take? Am I being listened to? Do my thoughts and feelings count? Do I take the lead at least half the time? Do I get to make my own decisions about personal things that affect no one else? Do I feel supported and affirmed by the other person?

Answer the above questions honestly. Be willing to look at the truth. Do you feel you could’ve stopped some people from manipulating you sooner? Did you badly want to believe they were good? Did you try too hard to make things work? If the truth is undesirable, that’s okay. That’s what we humans do – we make mistakes. You can always change course and begin to work on reclaiming your happiness.

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Not everyone is naturally assertive. But we can all work on it. Our relationships teach us many things about ourselves. There is this inner commentary that our brain engages in – a sort of an objective, truthful, and meaningful analysis of our experiences. It’s up to us to listen and pay attention.

Are you naturally assertive? Or did you have to work at it? Which experiences shaped you? Did you try to make a relationship work, only to realize later that it wasn’t worth it? Do you prioritize your happiness? Do other people’s opinions have a strong influence on you? Do you struggle with trying not to seek approval? Please share your experiences in these situations.

I’m most interested in the growth aspect of this.  What did you learn? What would you want to work toward?

Related Posts:

An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

But how do we go about accepting ourselves just the way we are?

Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?

“I think most problems in life are when we look for approval and validation outside of ourselves.”

What are we generally thinking of when we say ‘Respect Women’?

Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.

When you offer her respect,

What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

“I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now…”

“What is it in a ceremony of a few hours, that makes women fight tooth and nail to preserve the marriage, however unhappy they may be…?”

‘My parents will be ignored and ridiculed. No one will let them forget my so called shameful behaviour.’

An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

“You can listen to your parents and be unhappy or you can go against them and feel guilty – those are your choices?”

But do we have any benchmark for ideal parents in our traditions?

Sharing an email from Kajal.

A thought has been bothering me for a few days. Indian mythology or cultural texts have several icons and references for the ideal son/daughter i.e. the ideal children. But do we have any benchmark for ideal parents in our traditions? Mostly what I remember from atleast the two major epics is parents who abandon children, torture them to please another spouse or society or ask of impossible sacrifices from children for the larger good. Do you remember any ideal/non-controlling parent in our stories? Would you say this has impacted how we see parent child relationship till date in this country? Is there a parent version of Shravan Kumar? Or is it just assumed that by virtue of being parents they are selfless and right?

So do we have any role models? What did these role models do for their children?

Indian mothers are seen (in movies) frantic, worrying about the amount of hot and freshly cooked food the male children have eaten [Like this, Link]

They are also seen fasting for the male child’s long life. In the movies they seem to feel responsible for finding a sanskaari and obedient daughter in law as a spouse for the male child and collecting dowry for their daughters. Traditional mothers are expected to raise the paraya dhan to become obedient daughters in law.

Fathers seem to be responsible for ensuring obedience, school fees (if they approve of sending the children to school), dowry and Honor.

In many movies, loving parents are seen working hard, despite illness sometimes, to feed their children, to get urgent medical treatment for their children, for the children’s (more often male children) school fees and for the girl children’s dowry.

What about the parents in Indian mythology?

Related Posts:

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“This man is openly threatening his daughter and is instigating others to burn alive their daughters.”

“You can listen to your parents and be unhappy or you can go against them and feel guilty – those are your choices?”

“I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arranged marriage, people are talking, younger sisters not getting married.”

“I am glad that my parents never thought of raising us as ‘future daughters-in-law’.”

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

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

The Changing Role of Dads

Fortune Mother Exchange : Mother’s cooking for Indian male children.

हमारी बेटी संस्कारवान है और मंत्री बनने के बावजूद पति के पांव की जूती ही है।

Don’t let me down dear daughter!

Not touching feet after a year of marriage is disrespect to MIL?

Display of respect for those who are considered higher in social and family hierarchy is a part of Indian culture.

The members who are lower in social and family hierarchy (also the less powerful) are required to display respect. 

Obedience, isolation, faith, tradition, guilt, emotional blackmail etc are used to enforce the display. 

A missing display could be a challenge. If not immediately controlled, it could embolden the rebel enough to question the inequality.

Which is why neglecting to touch feet of those who are entitled to have their feet touched is often taken very seriously. 

Patriarchy can’t survive without controlling the lowest in the social hierarchy.

Touching feet can also be used by non-believers, to falsely convey that they believe in Patriarchal Hierarchies of Respect. 

Would you consider the issues in this email trivial? What advice would you give to the email writer?

Sharing an email. [All emphasis mine.] 

Hello IHM,

Let me tell you that I googled for something on DIL’s (to know if there is something wrong with me or my in-laws) and luckily saw your blog and read a lot of stories of Indian DILs. I loved your blog and read the stories to boost up myself whenever I am depressed.

After reading so many stories, I also wanted to share my story after an incident at my in laws. I don’t know it is small or big.

Let me tell you the incident:

I got married last year to a family friend. My in-laws family was known to us. I am the choice of my MIL. She wanted a modern- traditional girl.

It’s almost one and half year after my marriage, and I feel like I have no good quality in me.

There were many taunts on my clothing, cooking etc etc. I kept quiet, never uttered anything. I used to cry in my room at night over such issues.

There were so many things of which I will definitely write to you in detail.

The incident I am talking about is about touching feet.

From the very first day in my new home, I myself touched feet of both my in-laws and said good morning and this is how it used to be every day since then.

My in-laws believe in Radhaswaomi, while my husband doesn’t and neither do I. He has a small mandir in a corner where he used to do his pooja and me too after marriage. It was weird for me to say Radhaswaomi (in which I don’t believe at all). I felt like someone was forcing me and I was not at all prepared to follow this.

I was even asked “subah uthke babaji ki aage matha tek liya karo” (Wake up in the morning and bow your head infront of babaji). I only used to do this for them. I was not connected to this thing and was uncomfortable. But I did this just for the sake of respect to my in-laws.

If they wanted their DIL to be like this, they should have married their son to a girl who believed in “Radhaswomi”.

After few months, on a weekend I forgot to touch their feet as I woke up little late. I literally forgot. She behaved very weird after that in that weekend. In weekdays we used to get up around 6 and face each other in the kitchen  and I always used to touch feet but it was weekend and somehow I forgot. I didn’t know the reason of her weirdness though. On the following weekday when I touched her feet, she said ” Paer na chua kar, Good morning na bol, koi baat nahi, radhaswaomi bol diya kar” (Don’t touch feet, don’t say good morning, it’s alright, say Radhaswami).  I tried doing this also but somehow couldn’t. It was difficult for me still I did with a half-heart. You know it’s very difficult to do such a thing when your heart doesn’t allow you. I am showing respect by touching feet and saying good morning in the morning. Now this they don’t like this, they want me to greet them in the morning as they want.

She complained to my husband about this and said that I am angry with her and that’s why I didn’t touch her feet. And when my husband questioned to me about this, I have no answer as I was not angry with her for any reason and just simply forgot.

Still I touched feet everyday, and whenever by mistake I forgot, she complained to my husband and he used to ask me, “How can you forget this thing?” We used to fight over this single issue (my husband and me) most of the time.

Days passed, with a lot of other things, taunts on other issues. I kept my mouth shut. I used to cry in my room at night. I never uttered a word in front of them, never showed disrespect to them. I shared my grudges with my husband only. He is nice, loving, caring but he can’t say anything to his parents even if they are wrong.

After 10 months of marriage, I had a miscarriage (pregnancy of 1 month) and was asked for one month bedrest for which I stayed with my parents for two weeks and after I came back , my FIL was hospitalised, and etc etc. And I stopped touching their feet somehow, it happened automatically and I never planned or thought of not touching their feet.

After that I completely stopped it thinking it’s been almost a year now, and if I forget any day then she will complain to my husband and we will fight over this single issue again and again. It’s better to leave it now. And I thought I am also a member of the family now.

Though I never forgot to touch feet on any ‘occasion'; or whenever I went to my home for a stay, and when I came back.

Everything was going normal (though other issues were there), after 3-4 months she complained to my husband about this.

He asked me.

I said, “I have stopped doing this now for quite a long time, and you know the reason behind this. I don’t want to start it again.”

Then again after few days, she complained to my husband. Now he fights over this with me, always asks me to wish her in the morning. She said, “If she doesn’t touch feet, then she should say Radhaswomi”.

He again fought with me and then again she complained, He said to his mom then,  “She cant say ‘Radhaswomi’, you cant force her to say that when I also don’t.”

Then they came up with, “Ok then, she can say good morning”.

My concern is, there are 4 members in the family, the 3 don’t wish each other in the morning and why is there a rule for the 4th one? When I used to wish Good morning, then they had a problem with that and because of that I stopped saying “good morning”.

Though I tried for my husband’s sake, one day I came out of my room in the morning and both my in-laws are having morning tea. MIL’s back was towards me, I said Good morning, my FIL responded but she didn’t utter a single word. I felt like a fool. She has ego problem. (my husband agrees with this).

Even after so many things I tried, but nahi hua mujhse (I just can’t do it). I don’t know why but when someone forces me to do something , I can’t.

Now, what she did recently. She called my Husband’s Aunt (who is also known to my family really well). She complained to her that I don’t wish her and said I don’t work at home at all. (which is completely false) That Aunt called my husband and said, “Your mom called me she was really distressed as she (the DIL) doesn’t wish her everyday in the morning and she doesn’t do household work.”

My husband was in office, he just said, “She does house hold stuff. I will talk to her.” But my husband never talked to me about this. He just asked me to wish her in the morning and again a fight over this issue happened. I had my own reasons and I didn’t want to start it now.

It is disgusting to force someone to ask for respect in this way. They can’t see I never misbehaved, I always obeyed them, etc etc.

When I got to know that she discussed this with this Aunt and I went into depression, I cried the whole night. That aunt is also close to me and I had a really good impression on her. And moreover MIL warned me just after marriage not to share any ghar ki koi baat (family affairs) with her as it won’t look good. I always wanted to share my problems with my in-laws with this Aunt but I never did as I had been warned by my MIL. And she insulted me by calling Aunt and complaining about me.

I told my husband that I knew about this but I never told him the name of the person who told me the discussion of MIL and Aunt (that person is very trustworthy and very close to me).

For 3-4 days I was pissed off, I alone know how I spent those days. On the following Sunday, my husband discussed this in front of me and MIL.

She said she never said I didn’t work, koi aag laga raha hai. (somebody is trying to create trouble) I am 100% sure that she said these things to this aunt. Then she said, “ye bhi jaake mere baare me bol de usko, vo jaanti hai main kaisi hu.” etc etc. (She too can go and talk about me to that aunt, she knows how I am.)

Just after this incident they left for a month on a planned trip abroad, to stay with my brother-in-law.

I am really pissed off with all this now and simply just don’t want to stay with them. But I have no other option.

What wrong have I done ?

Thanks,

NM

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Joint Family and Indian Daughters

“I had written an email about being a DIL in the joint family, I am happy to share my current state …”

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Eating Healthy

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Developing a healthy relationship with your food means eating for nutrition, sustenance, and with gratitude. Instead, in the modern age, we eat while we are standing or driving, as we rush through our day trying to meet obligations and deadlines. We eat out of stress or boredom, we over-focus on taste, and health goes out the window. The result of this unmindful eating is the feeling of being perpetually tired and health issues occurring at an increasingly younger age.

On the one hand, we have seen wonderful advancements in modern medicine that have increased longevity and help us manage many conditions while remaining active and functional, despite the effects of aging.

On the other, we live in increasingly toxic environments where we are exposed to harmful metals like lead, mercury, aluminum, and harmful chemicals in our air, food, and water.  The only way to counter the inevitable intake of these toxins is to build up our body’s natural defenses and supply it with the right kind of fuel.  A silent revolution has been taking place with our food.  Many of us haven’t noticed that the food we consume in current times is several fold more processed, and combined with harmful additives, compared to the foods consumed a generation ago.  We need to start saying no to this invasion of chemicals on our bodies.  We need to start treating our bodies with care and respect.  Not an easy task, since everywhere you look, you are surrounded by harmful additives.  We need to begin the process of choosing what we eat deliberately, rationally, meticulously.

I’m not a nutritionist but I’ve always been interested in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. And healthy eating is a big part of it. I haven’t met all my eating goals yet and I’m somewhere in the middle of the ladder to a balanced, healthful diet. I will share here what I’ve read on the subject. If anyone would like to add or correct the info included here, please do so.

Know Your Foods

1. Whole Grains – What’s The Big Deal?

Why eat Whole Grains? Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Refining normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. Whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, more fiber and many important vitamins and minerals.

Some whole grains to try (in place of white rice) are quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, millet (ragi, jowar), buckwheat, bulgur, and wild rice. All these alternative grains are great for maintaining balanced sugar levels. Quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans. It provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

2. The Argument for going Vegetarian

Meat contains dense protein, which is difficult to digest. Protein needs to be absorbed slowly, in order to have health benefits. Also, meat is highly acidic, leaching alkaline minerals like calcium from bones. Meat can be toxic with all of the antibiotics and artificial hormones fed to animals to make them grow faster and bigger and can exhaust the liver and kidneys having to work overtime to detoxify the body of these toxic and harmful substances. It also takes quite a lot more energy from our body to digest and break down meat, sapping our bodies of our vital life force. Meat contains high amounts of fat and cholesterol, leading to cardiovascular problems including heart disease, atherosclerosis and stroke.

Plant protein comes not just from beans and lentils, but also from whole grains. Eating a variety of whole grains and legumes provides the optimal amount of protein the human body needs, at a rate at which it can be easily digested.

And of course, going vegetarian is good for the planet! Meat production is a huge contributor to pollution due the use of fossil fuels. In developed countries, it is the largest source of greenhouse gases and in developing countries, one of the major causes of water pollution.

For those who do eat meat, leaner (chicken, turkey) meats are better than red meats (beef, pork) and grilled is better than fried obviously.

Note: There are others who take a different stance. For instance, advocates of the Paleo diet argue in favor of a heavily meat based diet.

3. Colorful Veggies – the fashion designers of the food world

Veggies are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain dozens of essential nutrients and have loads of dietary fiber. And just by getting your daily quota of five servings, you help build your body’s immunity to illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. One of the new trends with veggies is juicing – why – because it saves time and you can get in veggies you don’t normally like eating plus it’s more water. Whether you like to juice them, steam them, or eat them raw, veggies are great for you. Remember, no frying and no cooking with oil showing up all over your plate. With veggies, think bright colors plus white. Red, dark green, and bright yellow – all of these are packed with nutrients. White veggies like cauliflower, radish and cabbage are also excellent for you.

Here’s a suggested list of to include into your diet:

Dark Green Leaves – Spinach, Kale, Swiss chard, Methi, Romaine, Bok Choy, and Collards.

Green veggies – broccoli, green pepper, zucchini, cucumber

Red veggies – carrots, beets, red pepper, red cabbage, red potatoes

Yellow veggies – squash, yellow pepper, sweet potatoes

White – cauliflower, cabbage, radish

4. Fruit are cute, but too much is moot.

Fruit are tasty and nutritious, but watch out for the high-sugar ones. Berries are the healthiest kind of fruit. Most fruit contain fructose, a healthier form of sugar than glucose, except for grapes, which contain glucose. Even if it’s fructose, sugar is sugar. Bananas, apples, mangoes, and grapes are the sweetest fruit. Pineapple, kiwis, and strawberries are medium sweet. Pears, blackberries, raspberries are low in sugar. Cranberries are one of the lowest in sugar. Treat fruit as dessert, keep it to 1 to 2 servings a day max.

5. Dairy: No need for Milk Mustache!

For the longest time, milk was thought to be super healthy. Now, many nutritionists are questioning and debunking this long held myth. In general, it is better to keep dairy products a small part of your diet. We’ve been lead to believe in the myth that you absolutely need milk to get Calcium – mostly clever marketing from milk manufacturers (remember the famous milk mustache?). The truth is that there are many other, healthier sources of calcium in your diet – including all green leafy vegetables, also broccoli, and baked beans. Exercise is another excellent way to build and maintain strong bones.

Milk also has the disadvantage of making us feel full with no room for lean foods such as veggies and fruit. The more dairy we consume, the less lean, fibrous foods we eat. Milk can also lead to lactose intolerance in some people – bloating and constipation.

If you are a milk drinker, try substituting cow’s milk with alternative milks – almond, rice, or hemp milk. Many people are becoming intolerant to cow’s milk in the US because of the way it is being processed.  If you MUST drink cow’s milk, then at least stick to organic milk and avoid brands that come from cows treated with hormones.

Organic, plain, non-fat yogurt is the better form of dairy. It contains probiotics needed to protect your intestinal tract against bad bacteria. There are also non-dairy yogurts available now – based on coconut milk, etc. Goat milk yogurt is considered healthy but I’ve never tried it.

6. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats include nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado. I also use sunflower and safflower oils, which are more suitable to Indian cooking. Avoid processed fats like margarine and butter.

7. Drinks: Live it up! Party! Get drunk! (on water, I mean)

Soda – One of the worst things of the typical American diet is the consumption of sodas like Coke and Sprite – sodas can contain strong acids, tons of sugar and caffeine, artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, harmful colors and flavors. Coke contains Phosphoric acid – leave a nail in a cup of coke and it dissolves in 4 days. Imagine what it does to your body. Not to mention the 10 spoons of sugar that go into a regular sized Coke can. Avoid all sodas.

Diet coke is much worse. It contains Aspartame (an artificial sweetener present in many brands such as NutraSweet, Equal, and Spoonsful) which is linked to many devastating illnesses. Avoid all artificial sweeteners. Either reduce sugar, give up sugar (if you are pre-diabetic), or try Stevia, a plant based sweetener.

Store bought fruit juices (such as Tropicana) are not healthy – they contain high levels of sugar, some contain high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that has been linked to many illnesses. They also contain artificial colors, flavors and extracts. If you like fruit juice, please make it at home.

The best beverages to drink are –

Water – the 6 to 8 glasses rule is great if you can, but if you can’t, then drink as much as you can. Drink after every meal to aid digestion and hydrate. Avoid drinking from plastic bottles. Use a stainless steel bottle or cup, or one made from glass.

Coconut water – Make sure you buy a “clean” brand that contains no sugar or additives. The ingredients list should read: coconut water. Nothing else. And it shouldn’t say, “extracted from concentrate” or “sugar added”, etc.

Veg juices made at home with carrots, beets, etc. are awesome. Fruit juices made at home – orange, pineapple, mango, etc. Don’t add sugar please.

Fruit smoothies – Combine almond milk with your favorite fruit to make a healthy, filling drink.

Tea (hot water with tea bag – Burdock, Tulsi, Green Tea, etc.) Green tea helps you detox . Too much tea is not good as many teas also contain caffeine. Chamomile tea helps you calm down, mint tea helps you feel refreshed. Also look out for Teevana (now under Starbucks) – they have some interesting flavors like Samurai Chai. (Note on Indian tea – too much full fat milk, too much sugar, too much boiling – not good!)

Coffee – the jury’s out on this one. Some studies show that limited amounts of coffee (1 cup/day) are linked to a lower risk of diabetes. Others recommend giving up this artificial waker-upper altogether.

8. Snacks – what’s healthy, what’s not?

The short answer: the best snacks are mostly what nature offers – fruit, veggies, nuts. (And plain white, non-fat, organic yogurt.) Keep tons of these raw foods ready on hand. Everything else is unhealthy. Do not store your kitchen shelves with junk food.

The long answer (for those who love detail :)

Remember, it is BEST to eat food in its original form or lightly cooked. The more processed the food gets, the lower it’s nutritional value and the more harmful it becomes due to additives. This is why store bought snacks are among the unhealthiest of foods.

Many store bought snacks contain harmful ingredients such as colors, flavors, and flavor enhancers such as MSG. In the olden days, people used safe, natural coloring like turmeric to make the food yellow or beets to make it red. But artificial colors are based on chemicals and have harmful health effects.

Examples of healthy snacks:

Check out a health food store such as Whole Foods for some of these and choose snacks with less sugar (less than 5g per serving):

Fruit and Nut bars (with no harmful additives, like Kind bar or Lara bar)

Trail Mix – nuts and dried fruit mix (don’t pick those with added salt and sugar)

Baked chips (Lentil Chips, Kale chips, Sweet potato chips, Vegetable chips like beets and radish chips again without additives)

Organic dark chocolate (small amounts)

Whole grain crackers with no additives, plain or dipped in hummus

Examples of Unhealthy Snacks:

Protein bars (usually contain high levels of sugar and additives)

All snacks from the Indian store (cookies, crackers) contain additives

All packaged, ready to eat, instant foods

Anything deep fried (potato chips, corn chips)

All cookies, brownies, muffins, and sugary snacks

Many brands of nachos contain high levels of artificial colors and flavors

Anything with “bbq” or cheesy flavors or trans fats or GMOs

The biggest rule with snacks – READ THE LABEL! Read Ingredients carefully. A general rule of ingredients – the fewer the better, the more easily you can pronounce them, the better.  A bottle of ketchup should read: ‘organic tomatoes, salt, water, organic paprika, organic red pepper’. Baked potato chips should read: ‘potatoes, salt, sunflower oil’. That’s it. Say no to brands with long lists of ingredients (many of which are harmful additives).

EATING/COOKING HABITS – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cooking Veggies/Curry – when making curry, use no more than ½ tsp of oil to fry seasoning and spices, then add veggies, cover and lightly cook. Veggies must remain crisp to retain nutrients. Oil should not be sticking to plate when you serve curry. Avoid rich curry sauces that contain cream, etc. Avoid store bought sauces, they contain harmful additives such as flavor enhancers. Avoid bottled ginger garlic paste or anything ‘ready-to-use’. Grate your own ginger and garlic and if you lack time, skip it.

Vegetables like eggplant and capsicum do not taste good, when boiled/steamed. So the tendency is to fry them. To avoid frying, try grilling them. You can add grilled eggplant, zucchini, or squash to your sandwiches. You can add grilled bell peppers to almost anything – pasta, salad, sandwich, mixed grain dish, etc.

Eating Raw – There are many advocates for raw food but my personal preference is for lightly cooked foods. I feel the body spends too much energy breaking down raw foods – energy which should be used for other activities. The only veggies I can eat raw are tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and onions. I lightly steam carrots, beets, cawliflower, and all the other harder to break down (for my body) veggies.

Attitude – Sit down, chew well, and eat slowly. Savor your meals. Meals should not be eaten rushed, or while standing up. If you have little kids and meal times are chaotic, then let the kids eat first, then sit down to a peaceful meal with your spouse. As your kids get older, and you have family meals together, make it a social experience and catch-up time for the whole family. You can discuss something interesting you’ve been reading about or news from work (making sure it’s child appropriate). The dinner table can be the place for some great conversations.

Involve your children in the making of food. Children can accompany you to the farmer’s market, select veggies and fruit, and help out during meal prep, help set the table. Help your children develop a healthy relationship with food. Stocks your kitchen with tons of healthy snacks that kids can grab between meals. When kids watch you eat healthy, they are more likely to follow suit. Food battles are inevitable, especially during the teen years. Do the best you can – stick to cooking healthy at home, provide them with the right information, and when they eat out, let them make their own choices.

One of the best things you can do if you have some time is to grow a vegetable garden and get your kids involved with the planting and growing of veggies – this doesn’t have to be ambitious – even growing tomatoes is fine. This teaches children to have a healthy relationship to food and to be thankful to our planet and take good care of it. It is a therapeutic, stress busting activity and is quality time for you and your child. You can also teach them about generosity by distributing some of your home-grown veggies to neighbors and friends.

Buy seasonal, local, non-sprayed or organic produce. Don’t eat imported out-of season fruit, for instance. Support the local economy and the environment.

Eating Schedule – It is good to have a routine – that is you eat at consistent times everyday. The end goal of good eating is to be kind to your body – so your body can give you energy and focus.

Avoid negative eating habits – eating to fix boredom, to fix stress, starving to lose weight, over-eating something that is tasty, being excessively focused on taste rather than nutrition, using large helpings, craving excessive variety, random/unplanned eating or fixating on certain foods.

But, what about those darn cravings??

We all have them – chocolate, cheese, samosas, ice cream, pizza – we crave foods that are unhealthy. So should we kill our cravings instantly? The answer is NO! What happens when you suddenly eliminate these foods is – your craving intensifies. You do not feel good about eating good foods.

Instead, reduce bad foods gradually, with the goal of minimizing them. There are 2 ways you can do this – either by reducing the quantity of bad food OR by improving the quality of the bad food.

Say, you like eating pizza every month.

To cut down on the QUANTITY/FREQUENCY – You can try to cut down to a pizza every 2 months, then make it every 3 months.

You could also reduce your serving size (say from 3 to 2 slices to 1 slice), and supplement your meal with a salad.

Or to improve the QUALITY of the pizza – you can try going for thin crust pizza, with less cheese on it.

Thus you have not entirely eliminated the pizza or whatever it is you crave in one shot, but your consumption of it has been modified to be less unhealthy.

If you feel you are drinking too much coffee or tea, first try eliminating sugar in your coffee/tea without entirely giving up your ‘energy booster’ drink. Now, you don’t have to worry as much about your habit because it’s not as unhealthy. Next try eliminating milky tea and go for hot water and tea bag.

If you love ice cream, save it for special occasions or eat it with a fruit salad.

If you decide to eliminate a food, do it gradually by reducing your consumption over a period of time. In the end, you must be able to give up the food in peace, without feeling bitter about it or aching for it so much that you just gorge on it after a long gap.

POTS AND PANS – is it time to go shopping?

Avoid non-stick pots and pans.

Minimize the use of microwave ovens. Microwave ovens use radiation, which alters the chemical composition of your food.

Use glass containers and avoid plastic, for storing food. Glass is inert so nothing leaks into your food. Plastic is bad enough when cold but downright toxic when heated. Even BPA free plastic contains harmful chemicals. Glass and high quality stainless steel containers are healthier. Avoid zip-lock bags as much as possible.

Baking with glass (Pyrex) is way better than using metal pans to avoid leakage of metals into your food.

Pressure cooker versus slow cooking – slow cooking is healthier, soak grains (rice, quinoa, etc.) for an hour and cook on medium to low heat on stove top. Cook all veggies on stove top on low to medium heat.

Cooking pots – this is where most experts disagree – obviously non-stick cooking pots are unhealthy due to Teflon. Some people recommend glass cookware, and even though glass is inert and strong enough to be heat resistant, I still don’t feel comfortable using glass cookware. I currently use stainless steel cooking pots. My favorite brand is Cusine Art – the pots are heavy stainless steel. All stainless steel pots do have a bit of nickel and other metals in them – but they won’t seep into your food unless they’re scratched. So don’t scrape the bottom of stainless steel pots and pans. Use enough water to keep the curry or rice moist, to avoid scraping.

NEXT STEPS

Eating better is a process and it takes time to get there. An at-a-glance way to assess where you are in this process:

Level 1 – you eat lots of sugary and oily snacks, don’t pay attention to labels, and eat out a lot

  • You need to reduce sugar and unhealthy fats.
  • Trash the junk food from your kitchen shelves and stock your fridge with cut up veggies and fruit to meet your in-between-meals hunger pangs.  Also keep small quantities of raw nuts on hand when the munching urge strikes.
  • Cook some simple, wholesome meals at home.

Level 2 – you cook simple, wholesome meals at home pretty regularly, avoid sweets and oily snacks, stick to some basic health rules like avoiding MSG and packaged foods. You eat some vegetables and fruit but you could do better. You also rely more on grains and less on fiber on hectic days. You may also be eating some refined grains.  You may sit down and have a peaceful meal for dinner, but breakfast and lunch, you eat on the run because you are pulled in many different directions – the needs of work, home, kids, self. (Level 2 is sort of where I fall.)

  • Include more fibre in your diet by adding more fresh veggies and fruit.
  • Move closer toward whole grains.  Aim for grain rotation (quinoa, millet, Amaranth, brown rice, whole wheat – try to eat a different grain everyday and keep rotating).
  • Re-org your day (wake up earlier if needed) so you can set aside time to sit down and eat mindfully. Create a pocket of time to chop veggies and fruit to be used for next day.

Level 3 – you eat whole grains, lots of fresh veggies and fruit that are seasonal and local, you get optimal amounts of protein and healthy fats, you avoid colors and flavors, GMOs, avoid packaged foods, and eat at home as much as possible by cooking simple meals with fresh, organic ingredients.

  • Find ways to maintain this.
  • Keep reminding yourself of the benefits – you have optimal levels of energy, you are calm and focused, and better able to handle stressful situations.
  • Get everyone in your family to join you, if possible.

References

Healthy Eating Info websites

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthy-eating

http://www.ayurveda-holistic-medicine.com/ayurvedic-diet.html

https://unblindmymind.org

Whole Grains –

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-a-to-z

Vegetarian Protein –

http://sacredsourcenutrition.com/plant-vs-animal-proteins/

http://kindrednutrition.blogspot.com/2011/06/plant-vs-animal-protein.html

Leafy Greens –

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/leafy-greens-rated

Fruit Sugar

http://www.thehealthyeatingguide.com/sugar-content-of-fruit/

http://www.sugarstacks.com/fruits.htm

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/fruits-vegtables-good-low-sugar-intake-2148.html

http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/whatfruit.htm

Milk overrated – http://www.mercola.com/article/milk/no-milk.htm

The ugly effects of coke – http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060823150145AAUrVMa

The danger of artificial sweeteners

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/06/aspartame-most-dangerous-substance-added-to-food.aspx

Is Coffee Good For You? – http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/coffee-new-health-food

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coffee-and-health/AN01354

Artificial colors in snacks – http://www.naturalnews.com/032512_artificial_colors_food.html

Going Organic http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-reasons-to-eat-organic-food.html?page=3

Harmful ingredients to avoid –

http://www.naturalnews.com/033162_food_ingredients_chemicals.html

Dark Chocolate –

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/6-health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate.html#b

Quality of Food goes down with processing

http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/23-ways-eat-clean/11-soup

“I’m baffled that Indians (not just men) truly think that virtue stems from being sexually chaste.”

Sharing an email from Anonymous. 

Subject: Link regarding a wife’s sexual past

Hello IHM,

I am a reader of your website.

I had run across a link that I thought you and your readers would find interesting (maybe). It details a man dealing (badly) with the strong possibility that his wife has some kind of sexual history.

The comments in the article are interesting from both sides of the debate.

I also wanted to include a link to a similar discussion, from a Western point of view. It’s a link to an American sex / relationship advice columnist. I don’t always agree with the advice he gives, and there are problems I have with his point of view, but I do find it interesting that his advice is quite similar to the advice given in the original article.

Incidentally, Dan Savage, the American, has occupied an interesting niche in US popular culture. The US actually has a fairly conservative view of sex; however, Dan has set himself up as a no-boundaries type of columnist. You can ask him literally anything. This has led to some really interesting questions being asked of him over the years. In that time, the questions have evolved beyond technical questions regarding sex, and more about ethics in relationships.

RANT WARNING:

Why in the world am I going on and on about this? Because, even as an Indian female who was raised in an Indian culture, in the Middle East, I never understood the hangups Indians have about sex.

Even so, I tried to be a good girl and never dated, never dressed provocatively, never drank, never smoked or did drugs, and hadn’t even kissed a boy when I got married (I had moved to North America at college age). I got out of my marriage with my virginity intact (sorry for the graphic detail), because my body rejected my husband – I simply wasn’t attracted to him. So much for the rewards for being a good girl.

After my divorce, I thought ‘to hell with this, I’m going to live!’ and I dated and did everything that went with it.

I’ve now decided to put myself on the meat, er, marriage market again, and again, I find I’ll pretty much have to go into that shell: to get married, I have to project myself as a robot, who functions to keep house, make money, and timidly accept whatever her husband deigns to give her, with no reciprocation (because after all, where did I learn *that* from? Answer: the internet, dummy).

I’m baffled that Indians (not just men) truly think that virtue stems from being sexually chaste.

END OF RANT

Anyway, the links are below:

http://www.loveinindia.co.in/wife-sex-before-marriage/

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/savage-love/Content?oid=889937

(the letter I was referring to is the first one)

Happy Reading!

Related Posts:

“let me ask – how many girls in city remain pure till marriage ?”

Girls morally bound not to have sex before marriage, says fast track court judge

“There is so little conversation about a woman’s desire for sex that a lot of people simply assume it doesn’t exist.”

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

‘I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.

An email: Also this is a genuine question and not a pornographic mail.

“…if this thing comes out my husband will think my wife is after all not that ‘pure’ or is not that ‘untouched flower’”

‘I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

Here’s why I think the society should not obsess over a woman’s virginity.

The video is speaking against the acceptance of rape, acid attacks, honor killings, forced marriages etc that are viewed as normal ‘Consequences’ for women.

Madam so many rapes don’t happen in Germany coz girls don’t refuse to have sex.’

Question about Sexuality in Indian Arranged Marriages

‘Rape is theft of the victim’s potential to fulfil her destiny from birth, the pivot of her existence, her marriage.’

If pre-marital sex if here to stay, then so are HPVs and other STDs.

“I am terrified of confiding in my husband, though I really really want to just cry on his shoulder.”

“Girls need to be little bit aware of the consequences. Men – will enjoy …”

“See – UNICEF has figured it out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out.”

The Changing Role of Dads

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

When I was a homemaker (when my kids were little), I was in this playgroup of 5 kids and their parents. 4 of them were moms and there was one dad. It was my first time meeting a full time stay-at-home dad. He was completely capable and handled tantrums, diaper leaks, eating disasters, and slushy mud puddles with ease and a great sense of humor. This was about 10 years ago.

Now I meet stay-at-home dads everywhere – in my neighborhood, at work, at my kids’ school, in my support group. Some of them work from home. Some of them run businesses from home.  Others take care of their little kids and the house full time.

In the last post, Chaiwallah brought up the point about a man being discriminated for being a homemaker. I do not see this discrimination as something separate (men’s suffering versus women’s suffering in patriarchy) but as connected. The more we encourage gentleness and caring in boys, the more nurturing and helpful they will be at home when they become parents. Dads doing their fair share at home supports moms’ empowerment. If men are free of stereotypes, then women are free to make more choices. If men can choose to stay at home more, then women can choose to be more career focused (in families that prefer to have this division of labor). If both parents choose to work outside the home, then both can share the housework and childcare fairly without attaching gender labels to these duties.

Here’s a sampling of some recent ads about dads. Of course, for every one of these ads, there are a 1000 others that show women in traditional roles.  In reality, (if we look at stats worldwide) men have a long way to go in terms of doing their fair share at home. But, look around you. Things are changing, little by little. The fact that businesses want to spend millions of dollars positioning their products around this cultural shift means that the shift is happening. It means we are beginning to lean toward the following notions:

  • gentleness, warmth, and caring don’t make a man any less of a human being
  • the ability to demonstrate emotions makes a human being stronger, not weaker
  • dads are not clueless at home, they can be relied on to do their part at home and keep the family running smoothly, and they can multi-task as well as moms
  • housework, cooking, and cleaning are not “inferior” jobs assigned to “less capable” people (read women), they are simply – jobs that need to get done -and every person (man or woman) has to learn to do them.

Swiffer Ad – dads cleaning the house, watching kids jumping in puddles. Dad complains, “no such thing as deep couch sitting” :-)

Dove Ad –Dads kissing, hugging, playing with their children. Dads helping kids out of stuck shirts, cleaning them after toilet use, ready to help when they’re stuck on a road, when they’re afraid of water, when they have a bad dream, when they’re distressed.

Tide – Child napping with dad.

Cheerios – A funny ad about a capable, confident dad – it’s called “How to dad” :)

Extra gum Origami – Dad is there with daughter through all the stages of growing.

Johnson’s – Dads comfortable conveying their love through touch, caring for their babies, being delighted in them.

And here’s a dad who’s better at cleaning than mom – because cleaning is just like any other skill – it isn’t gender specific – some people are great at it, others not so great :) Some people enjoy it, others don’t.

 

Watching these ads, I am reminded of my childhood. My father would practice volleyball with me to help me win the matches at school. The ball would keep going over the fence and he would quickly scale the fence and get it back in a jiffy. Bonus points for teaching me as well how to scale the fence :-) He was also a great cook and could make the best eggplant bhajjis. He would slice them so thinly and dip them in such light batter that they would just melt in the mouth.

Please share if you had fun experiences with your dads at home doing things that break stereotypes. Also, if you have seen other nice dad ads, please share.

Do you agree that things are changing in this regard? Or do you feel they are predominantly the same?  What has been your experience with your father/husband/siblings/friends/coworkers?  If you’re a guy, please add how you feel about all this.  Do you want to change things?  Do you want to be a different kind of dad from your own (assuming your own played a traditional father’s role)?

Related Posts:

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

“My problem is my wife doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.”

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

An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone…

Workplace Equality requires Equality at Home

The Men in Our Lives

Why are these dads such a threat to patriarchal social structures?

Dad wears short shorts to teach daughter what she wears is everybody’s business and everybody’s approval proves her great worth.

“My dad tells me not to wear skimpy outfit when he is around”

“I know my dad is short tempered but he was never this aggressive until my relatives started making him over think about my marriage.”

Dad knifes girl for speaking to lover

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

“Freedom can wait, I’m staying put for Dad”

Abhishek Bachchan as a Working Dad in the new Idea ad.

“My husband says he can’t go against his family. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

“Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” Please adjust.

Response to “Koi Baap Apni Beti Ko Kab Jaane Se Rok Paya Hai”

Haryana killing : Here is a father A P Singh might want to defend.

“This dad is openly threatening his daughter and is instigating others to burn alive their daughters.”

The father threw the baby on the ground and tried to strangle her with his legs: No case registered.

Father wants the world to know her real name.

Feminism Is Good For Society

Where do they go away?

 

 

“I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now…”

” …So what about the girls? Haven’t their parents done a lot for them?”

 

Sharing an email from ‘A born feminist’. 

Dear IHM,

I hope you will post my letter. I would love to read all the responses that I get from the readers and I think it will help me a lot in making my decisions.

I think I am a born feminist. From the time I was a child I was highly ambitious and demanded equality. I somehow had a natural knack of
observing and analysing inequality between men and women in my  surroundings. To my great amazement and frustration this was treated
as something ” normal” by everyone.

I remember seeing when I was 7 or 8, I used to visit my Bua’s (dad’s older sister) place and saw that my bhabhi (cousin’s wife) would finish her job, come home, take a quick shower and help my bua in the kitchen. She then sat down with her kid to help with the homework and stuff like that. I remember her being busy from morning till night. On the other hand, my cousin who had his own business and worked from home most of the time didn’t have to do anything once he was done with his job. He came home and ordered for tea while watching TV. This was considered to be completely normal by everyone.

I think here I got the first taste of my growing feminism when I asked my mother why didn’t my cousin help his wife in the kitchen? Why didn’t she get to rest and watch her favourite shows? What made him special? I was amazed that no one questioned it. I was a little disappointed in my parents for not questioning the inequality. However, I was young and soon forgot all
about it.

As I grew older, I noticed a lot of things around me which just didn’t feel right to me. My mum comes from a small town and I remember spending the best times there with my cousins during my summer holidays. I also noticed all my female cousins helping their mums with housework while my male cousins worked in their shops and hung out with their friends. But atleast my male cousins had weekends off. The town was apparently not safe for young women after 8 pm when all the young boys would go out in their bikes in a big group and create a ruckus all over town. This made me mad because I was not allowed to go out because parents did not have control over their 20 something years old boys.

When I was 14 my mum suddenly decided that it was time for me to learn
how to cook and let me tell you it didn’t go down well with me. There were more tears and clanging of pots and pans in the kitchen than actual cooking. If only my mother had said that cooking was a skill that every individual should have rather than something that a girl needs to start learning when she hits puberty in order to prepare her for marriage. I have no regrets not learning and learnt all on my own when I realised I needed to cook for my own survival as a freshman in a new country.

When I was 25 and decided that I was now ready to settle down with a “Nice, Indian boy” one of my criteria was that I didn’t want to live with In-laws.

I am now 28 and let me tell you, all of the men that I have met over these three years have been utterly shocked by me not willing to live with in-laws. I think they consider me self centered and selfish. Here are the reasons why I am justified in not wanting to live with in-laws.

1) I am expected to not live with my parents so how do the boy’s
parents become more special?
2) I have no intentions of living with my parents either after marriage
3) I am ready to give my 100% to my parents and in-laws when they need
me (emotional support, during illness or disability) and I will be more than happy for them to live with us.
4) I want my freedom with my husband.  I have no issues with them visiting us whenever they like.
5) I have no expectations from my parents or my in-laws to help me out
in any way.
6) I want to create a lifestyle with my husband where we create the
way we want to eat, sleep, travel, decorate our house, watch TV, raise
our kids, use our money
7) I don’t expect my husband to be better in any way. I want us to work
together, save together, make plans together, cook and clean together.
I am ready to work hard with him. [link]

So how do the above seven points make me selfish in any way? I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now. So what about the girls? Haven’t their parents done a lot for them? Doesn’t it then, make the girl selfish to leave her parents who have done so much for her and live with a new family she
hardly knows just for her own happiness?

I clearly don’t understand the Indian marriage system and the rules of
patriarchy. I find them very archaic and suffocating. Even if my in
laws are uber modern and supercool why should I have to live with
them? Why cant my ubercool in laws just visit my new family with my
husband over the weekend? I wouldn’t want to live with my MIL even if
she was Sonia Gandhi or Hema Malini. Does it make me selfish?

Related Posts:

A detailed check list of conditions from modern young women of marriageable age.

Is your relationship healthy?

“I am trying to make a list of soooooooo many advantages a girl can have if she is born in a Western family as compared to being born in india.”

“…it’s better if he is NOT a family guy. Extra points to the one who hates kids.”

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

“I thought it would indeed be wonderful to live with my in-laws.”

An email: Salary of the prospective groom must be 3-6 times more than the salary of the prospective bride.

An email: “My in laws want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.”

An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

An email: What worries me is, will we be able to find guys who have a similar thinking process?

“I have no other option than to move in with my very orthodox in laws. I need tips to not get hurt.”

“Reading all the comments jerked me up. Really. It was like a bang! And the mind fog moved slightly…”

Sharing an update from Not a good wife. 

Dear IHM,

I have been wanting to write to you for a long time. Every time I started writing, I stopped myself thinking I will contact you only when I am ready to share the news with you that am completely out of the difficult phase I was in 3-4 years back.

I don’t know if you remember me but I had written to you in 2012,
An email: He says what am I expecting out of this marriage if I cant even make him happy.

Writing to you was one of the most sensible thing that I had done then. It gave me such a large access to different thoughts, perceptions and advice of so many people. A majority of them even helped me understand that I was actually not weird in feeling certain things. When I wrote to you that time, I was in a terrible haze, it was as though a fog had enveloped my brain and was simply refusing to fade away. I was too engrossed in dealing with everyday issues that I had forgotten who I was, who I wanted to be. I had grown so different from what I had imagined myself to be and I was hating myself for not having the courage to stand up for what I believed in.

And then I wrote to you.

Reading all the people’s comments jerked me up like anything. Really. It was like a bang! And the mind fog moved slightly to let small whips of fresh air to come in.

In the days after that, I was determined to be assertive. I stood my ground on 2-3 occasions. I also made a major decision, call it the most risky thing ever, but i left my job and tried to give my marriage another chance. I was more clear-headed though I knew what I wanted.. and I realised it was not working out.

I am glad I realised that I cannot really pinpoint to one reason, could be the age gap, could be control issues, could be different wants, could be sexual issues, could be ego, could be stubbornness, could be anything for all I cared. I realised in the end it really didn’t matter to me, all I knew was that I wasn’t me… and if I continue like that I am the loser.

I took necessary steps and am now on the brink of getting a divorce. I wouldn’t say life was smooth soon after that. There have been occasions where I thought I was wrong, where I have questioned myself what I was doing… however, the bouts of indecisiveness was always removed by the various incidents that followed suit.

I would say it took almost a year and half for the fog to be lifted from my mind. There is no better word for the ‘haziness’ I used to feel. I was like a zombie. If I think of it now some of the things I used to do makes me feel ashamed of myself. I used to actually keep a notepad and write down the tasks he used to mention casually, lest I forget it… coz if I forgot, it always ended in tantrums, concluding I didn’t love him enough because I forget his needs and wants. Once he complained that there are many mosquitoes in the night, and he called me the next day while I was at office to shout at me that he couldn’t sleep in the morning because of too many mosquitoes and that I hadn’t remembered to buy the mosquito all out liquid before I left for office the next day. These may be small incidents but all these incidents make my blood boil when I think of them. How I used to actually believe that I was not a good wife!

But now I am glad am out of it. I have come out of that. I joined work again. I am doing quite well in that. My life is so much better now. I am actually laughing and smiling without fear that I will be shown my place because of something I didn’t do or some task I missed out doing. I came out at the right time I think.

And I thank God, my family and You and your readers for that!

I still have few more months till it becomes legal. I have always wanted to share this with you after it was all over but today when I saw my post in the related post section, it brought back all the memories and I knew I had to connect with you.

Having gone through a phase of difficult life, it has now made me appreciate the freedom I have. The freedom to think. The freedom of my mind to have ‘thoughts’ that are ‘My thoughts’. And it makes such a huge difference!

Thank you once again and I shall write to you again when everything is sorted out once for all.

Regards,

From No More ‘Not a good wife’

Related Posts:

The moment to walk out of a relationship by Simbly Bored

Not Perfect Enough for Mr Perfect?

Some assertive ways to deal with manipulation. – by BB-Dlite

To an Anonymous DIL

Recognizing Emotional Abuse – by Priya

When she says she no longer wishes to stay with him, why isn’t her word enough?

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

Feminism has gone to women’s head. Divorce has become like selling onions.

When a daughter refuses to go back.

Remember the Anonymous Confused Wife?

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”

Disability and how it affects the family

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Disability comes with many names – autism, Asperger’s, muscular dystrophy, bipolar, Downs – basically any condition that interferes with day-to-day functioning. People with a disability are usually reduced to a bunch of letters and labels – ADD, ADHD, MS, DS, CP, and so on. Disability can be physical, developmental, or both and can vary in degree (mild, moderate, severe). But disability evokes ONE single emotion in the minds of every family hit by it. Fear.

Fear is what you first feel when your child has been diagnosed with something. Fear of what lies ahead. You feel the ground under your feet slipping away.

The general stages that many families go through are Fear, Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Grief, and Positive Acceptance. They may not happen neatly(one at a time) and in any particular order. Just when you think you’ve gotten past the stages and progressed to Positive Acceptance, a challenging phase can trigger one of the earlier stages.

Each family must traverse it’s own individual journey. No two disabilities are alike, no two people affected are like. And no two families are alike. My younger son, 12, has autism. (I also have an older, typically developing son, who’s 16.) I do not have knowledge of disabilities other than autism and I will use that heavily in this post, in terms of examples. I will also write this from a parent- young child perspective (please translate the situation appropriately to other disabilities and other relationships such as caring for a sibling or a parent).

What I hope to share here are some thoughts, experiences, and strategies that may be helpful to all families with disabilities, regardless of the individual diagnoses or differences in the challenges they are facing.

Practical Considerations

1. Get a Comprehensive Evaluation

A thorough evaluation by a professional is not only important to understand your child’s diagnosis, it also becomes the basis for appropriate services.  Do some research and find a professional (such a psychologist, physician, developmental pediatrician, or other expert) that you feel comfortable with in terms of both knowledge and manner.

In the early days, my son’s evaluation gave me the first piece of clarity in all of the chaos – it not only captured his diagnosis accurately, it also summarized his strengths and developmental challenges, and recommended a list of therapies, tools, and services that would help address his challenges. Having something concrete in my hands was a lifesaver. I had a purpose. A sense of direction.  I needed to help him. Therefore I needed to be okay.

2. Research interventions related to the condition.

Beside’s the doctor’s or psychologist’s recommendations, do your own research on what is out there helping those in the same situation. Look for therapies, tools and technology that will help your child learn, communicate, and grow. Get trained in these interventions.

For my son, a host of therapies have been effective – Communicating Partners, Floortime, Applied behavioral Analysis, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Relationship Development Intervention. There are literally 1000s of apps on the iPad to choose from – I use the ones suitable to his needs. I also attend workshops, read books, and get trained on how to use specific techniques to help him learn and grow.  It also helped to teach my older son some play-based strategies so he could find ways to connect with his brother.

3. Start a Journal

Make observations about your child.  Keep track of missed developmental milestones. Also make note of your child’s unique traits, preferences, dislikes, and fears.  What motivates him?  What gets him too excited?  What calms him down?  How does he communicate?  How does his responsiveness vary, based on the environment?  How does he relate to various members in the family?

One of my journal entries from many years ago reads “he likes spinning balls”. Over the years, he was taught many things using various balls (some shiny, some springy, some squishy) as rewards. Now he has graduated to playing basketball with his brother and at school. The next step is to teach him to play basketball in the community (like a neighborhood league).  It all started with a spinning ball.

4. Do some research on funding.

In the US, insurance companies cover some therapies and services, while the government covers others. While at least half the services we use are covered, the other half have been out of pocket – because what is covered can often be inadequate/minimal or have many conditions attached or may not be appropriate for the child in question. Therefore, you might also want to set aside a separate fund for educational tools, supports, and medical appointments. There may be specific government grants and scholarships, educational savings accounts and living trusts, specific to each country. Yes, a disability can be a huge financial drain and requires smart financial planning both for the short and the long term.

5. Read up on Disability Law

There is generally a body of law governing the education of people with special needs. For instance, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law in the US that ensures that every disabled person has a right to an appropriate education, which must be provided by the schools. However, what’s ’appropriate’ can be wishy-washy. Therefore knowledge of the law is crucial.

One day, I was in a meeting with 8 other professionals whose jobs depended on denying as much funding as possible (a psychologist, a behaviorist, a lawyer who was mediating on behalf of the funding agency, my case manager, etc.). I felt so alone. They were all disagreeing with me, denying my son services that were helping him make progress. But I had done my homework and come prepared. I quoted cases, laws, precedents that were relevant. I also had detailed reports and records, videos and proof of his progress. The data spoke the truth. I got the services he needed.

Of course, I would never let them know that there was moment in the meeting when I came close to crying. We seldom realize how strong we are – until we are forced to be.  That was the day I realized – when you understand your rights, knowledge is truly power. You can advocate for a range of services that will help you child achieve his full potential and live as independently and productively as possible.

6. Make a plan for sharing responsibilities. 

Make a list of your new responsibilities and things that need to be done. Discuss with your spouse or other family member how you will share responsibilities and juggle your respective tasks.  Your workload practically triples when your child is diagnosed with special needs.  All of a sudden, you will find yourself becoming a teacher, advocate, therapist, behaviorist, and counselor (besides being a parent).  You will be making multiple appointments, doing a lot of paperwork, and driving a lot more – to therapies, playgroups, support groups, workshops, etc.

Planning, being organized, and sharing responsibilities is the only way to fit in everything and ensure all the important areas are being addressed.

Emotional Well-being

1. Allow yourself to Grieve

I researched interventions, recorded behaviors in journals, built spreadsheets for tracking goals and flowcharts to design his programs. What I couldn’t do easily was grieve.

I felt grieving was an act of betrayal toward my son. If I sit down and cry (even in private), will he sense it on some level? Will it sadden him? Which child would want to feel responsible for making his parents sad?

My husband, like many men, was also uncomfortable with talking about our son’s autism outside of problem solving.

It was finally on our first visit back home, (2 years after diagnosis) in India, in my childhood room that it happened. We were talking about his autism and my husband broke down. I was caught by surprise. I had never seen him cry. I too cried about it, for the very first time.

I realized I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t disloyal. I wasn’t weak. I just needed to cry. It was intensely cathartic.

The crying did not change our love or commitment to him one bit. It opened the floodgates for us. We’ve had many discussions since then about things we were uncomfortable broaching. About our fears. About his future. Giving words to the unknown makes it known. And the known is easier to deal with.

2. Start Building Supports and Networks

Recognize that you are in crisis mode, at least in the first 2 years, until you’ve figured out supports and services. Look to your family and friends for supportive people who are willing to help and can take on tasks for which you simply do not have the time or energy.  Sometimes having a cup of coffee with a friend can go a long way in relieving some of the stress. Form a support group with other like-minded parents in the same situation.

3. Don’t forget your child is a child first. His condition is secondary.

Your child still needs to be loved and cared for. He needs to play and have fun. For that, he needs a relaxed parent.

It was hard for me to be relaxed in the beginning because I had so much on my plate. But playing with my son and letting him be a child magically reduced my stress levels. If he does something annoying, I try to remember he could be doing it because he’s a child and not necessarily because of his condition. I try to refrain from looking at every action of his through the autism lens.

4. Build independence and pride for your child.

I also have been working on making him as independent as possible. We don’t have a handicapped-parking permit because I taught my son to walk safely in the parking lot, so others who truly need it may avail of it. We don’t use special passes at amusement parks because we have managed to teach our son to wait in line (again so these can be used by people who genuinely need them). I want him to know he will be given help and support but he does not need crutches. My son needs to help out with chores like everyone else in the family. I will not do anything for him that he is capable of doing himself. He has developed a sense of pride in himself. He will struggle with something for the longest time and do it himself rather than take help, in many instances.

5. Figure out ways to support the needs of other members in the family.

Siblings get the hardest hit. Make sure you dedicate one on one time with your other child/children. Be involved with them, partake in their activities, and be supportive and understanding of their own struggles. If they have negative feelings toward their sibling with special needs, you need to listen, validate, and teach them practical ways to deal with everyday problems arising out of their sibling’s condition.

Siblings of children with special needs can go in two very different directions. They can take on a lot of stress and break down under it and really “act out”. Or they can learn to deal with the challenges positively – in the latter case, they tend to become mature beyond their years.

Reading, running, and chess are three activities I share with my older son. When we discuss books or play chess, we are being friends and equals. When we run, he beats me every single time! The rest of the time, I have to be a parent to him, an adult, of course. But when we do something we both enjoy, we are building an easy bond that sort of helps us tide over tensions during other times.

6. Humor can be survival.

Humor is the best medicine, yes. In the absence of a cure, it’s the only one. Don’t forget to kid around. In my family, we all poke good-natured fun at each other. It’s our most cherished tradition.

7. Don’t get exhausted. Take breaks.

I religiously go for my Sunday morning hike with my friends. I also go to my monthly book club. My husband and I go out for Friday lunch dates, every other week. My husband likes to go to Fry’s Electronics to browse or watch the local baseball matches with his buddies. We stick to these activities no matter what. Taking care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of our children. Also the latter is ineffective without the former. (Remember the flight attendant’s safety mask announcement.)

8. Be an Effective Parent

Remember that no professional can know and understand a child to the degree of intimacy that a parent can.  It is only possible for a parent to deeply know his/her child due to the constant proximity and the very nature of the parent-child relationship.  However, many parents may be so distressed by the diagnosis that they may lose sight of this important fact – a knowledgeable parent can be an indispensable and powerful member of the child’s intervention team.  You truly have the power to help your child be the best that he can be.  You will not be able to do it alone – you will need help from professionals, family, and friends – but it all begins with you.  When you are able to set aside the ‘Why Me?’ question, when you are able to overcome your grief, you will start seeing how beautiful and unique your child is – you will then be a powerful force in aiding his development and shaping his success.

DEALING WITH STIGMA

I’m lucky to live in the US. My neighbors know my son and his issues but they don’t let it bother them. They find ways to connect with him (by casually asking, “Hey Ryan, wanna help me out here with this lawn mower?”) and if he’s not there, always check in on me and ask me how I’m doing and if they could help with anything. Same thing happens at our neighborhood cafes and restaurants. They know what his usual order is.  They don’t freak out if my son does something weird. I have been reduced to tears (in the beginning) at the absolute kindness and helpfulness of random strangers. The public spaces in this country are tremendously accepting of people with disabilities.

When I visit my family in India, I do sense a lot of stigma and silence on the issue, although I also sense it is slowly getting better. Still, some mean people ask rude questions or call him rude things. Once I was on a local flight with both my sons and the family behind us kept making rude comments about my younger son.

I put up with it until I heard, “If he’s mad, he should be in an institution, not on a plane.”

I finally stood up, turned around and told them “My son has autism. I have the right to inhabit this space as much as you do. He is not being disruptive. He is intelligent with a high IQ, sensitive, and a really nice human being, but I don’t expect you to understand that, not in a million years. He has the right to travel without discrimination. Please refrain from making rude remarks. If you continue to do so, I will not hesitate to complain to the authorities.”

I highly doubted that “the authorities” cared, but singling the offensive people out put the focus back on their behavior. It was sufficient in getting them to leave us alone for the rest of the flight (during which they maintained a deathly silence). While my boys and I calmly carried on with playing magnetic Scrabble.

The key is confidence. Do NOT be apologetic. It is NEVER the child’s fault. EXPECT adults to behave courteously and if they don’t, then DEMAND courtesy. I’m a veteran now at handling ignorant remarks about my son.  In the early years, my eyes would sting with unshed tears, my throat would catch, but I would gulp it down and pretend I was fine.  But ignoring comments is losing an opportunity to take a stand.  Remember Rosa Parks. Refuse to sit in the back of the bus.

And that’s how you deal with mean people, what about good people?

Good people in India tend to avoid the subject altogether. Although this is well intentioned (they don’t want to hurt you), I feel this is not acknowledging the elephant in the room. Their being careful comes off as indifference. I start talking about my son’s autism. Once I share willingly and enthusiastically, they begin to relax and ask me more and try to understand more. It’s okay to ask. It’s better than being indifferent. The more we talk about this, the more we break the silence and the stigma around it.

The good news – autism schools and services are burgeoning in every Indian city and from what I hear, the quality is top notch, and the professionals are empathetic and dedicated.

IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS FACED WITH DISABILITY

If a friend or a cousin or a co-worker you are close to is battling a disability, you may wonder how you can be of help. Here are some ways to be helpful:

1. Ask how you can be of help.

When I was a student in Canada, one of my fellow students lived in the same building. He was in a wheelchair but incredibly independent. He drove a specialized car and worked a part time job to pay his way through school. We would sometimes run into each other in the parking lot when we returned home at the same time. We would be talking while walking, he wheeling next to me walking. When we reached the building’s entry door, I would always wonder if I should run ahead and get the door for him or not. What if he reaches a step ahead of me? Would it be rude if I insisted on getting the door? Does he see that as ‘forced dependence’? So, one day, I just asked him what he preferred. He told me he’d appreciate it if I got the door for him. Problem solved! I happily got the door for him every time after that. I also told him since I lived in the same building to please ask me if he needs help with anything else. He did ask for help with unloading groceries, so every Sunday, I would get them from his car to the elevator. Then elevator to his door. Such a small thing for me. But every little thing counts, when you are faced with something big.

2. Understand and read up on the challenges.

When I saw my cousin suffering emotional abuse, it bothered me quite a bit. Here was a guy who had followed me around like a little brother when we were both kids. Here was an aunt who had been kind to me in my early years in the US. What has happened to this family, I wondered. They are all good people, yet they are suffering. I found myself reading everything I could find on the subject, so I could start pointing him in the right direction.

One of my close friends (who has typical kids) began reading up on autism after she met my son for the first time. I was surprised and touched. She said she wanted to understand him better. Learning about something that doesn’t affect us, is, I think, an act of love.

3. Let them know you are there.

Don’t offer sympathy. Most families affected by disability are like any other family. They have their own challenges. They will find ways to deal with them. Challenges make people stronger, more capable, and more empathetic. Rest assured they will find ways to be happy and enjoy life. But letting them know you are there – to listen or to help – is meaningful and genuinely supportive.

4. Know that different doesn’t mean inferior.

Know that someone who may act strangely on the outside may be very intelligent on the inside. The intelligence is trapped in a body that is difficult to control. There may be great ideas inside the brain, but to be expressed, neurons must carry them from point A to point B, then to C, then to D. If the neurons misfire, the idea is trapped inside. It can only be brought out by providing supports (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, etc.) And this is now being done through the use of various technologies (devices, apps and various software programs).

If I tested you in Mandarin today, you’d fail miserably. That doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. It just means I need to find the right language to test you in –one you are fluent in. With autistic people this “right language” is technology. Give them a multi-media way of learning and expressing and you will see that many of them are incredibly gifted. The giftedness is a result of overdevelopment in certain parts of the brain that seems to be a way of coping with deficits (neural connectivity) in other areas. Those autistic individuals who’ve had everything fall in place for them (a complex combination of supports, people, technologies and figuring out the blocks) show giftedness in math, programming, music, and poetry.  Notice how all four areas require excellent pattern recognition – little surprise since many autistic minds are obsessed with patterns.

Those whose ‘puzzles’ haven’t been solved, whose systems haven’t been ‘configured’, who are constantly battling sensory overload – although just as intelligent as those described above – continue to be trapped in their prisons – unable to demonstrate how much they know and understand.  It’s a little like suffering stroke.  You see a pen.  You know it’s s pen.  You just can’t get your mouth to say the damn word.  You are immediately labelled “not smart”.

You’d think most people instinctively understand that jokes about disabled people are in poor taste. You’d be surprised. President Obama himself made a derogatory joke about the Special Olympics. In case, you’re still using words like “retard” please wake up and step into the 21st century and refrain from using words that demonstrate ignorance.

Please, no matter what you do or don’t, DO NOT feel sorry for disabled people.  They don’t need your pity, they need your respect, and if possible, your help.

You can help disabled people in the following ways:

  • allow them to live with dignity and autonomy
  • ask them how you can be of help
  • give them ways to become independent and productive
  • give them ways to talk about their condition without secrecy or shame
  • accept them as human beings with human weaknesses, strengths and dreams

Related Articles:

Building Trust Non-verbally – https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/building-trust-non-verbally/

The Stories We Choose To Tell –

https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/the-stories-we-choose-to-tell/

Holding it in Letting Go –

https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/holding-it-in-letting-go/

Starting on Green – https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/starting-on-green/

The Road Taken – https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/the-road-taken/

A Day in the Life of a Family with Autism –

https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-family-with-autism/

Life with These Boys – https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/life-with-these-boys/

The Art of Asking for Help – https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/the-art-of-asking-for-help/

Light It Up Blue –

https://wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/light-it-blue/

Autism and Bullying

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/autistic-teenager-beaten-up-by-bullies-makes-them-watch-20minute-video-about-autism-10368201.html

 

15 lines from ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’.

Let me just share some dialogues (roughly translated/in my own words) from Dil dharakne do and you decide what you think of the movie.

1. ‘Does he beat you? Is he a miser? Does he stop you from shopping? No?! Then what do you mean you want divorce?’ [Rahul Bose is the ‘he’ here, and the entitled look on his face, when this is being said, makes the movie a must-watch]

2. ‘There has never been a divorce in this family and there never will be.’

3. ‘What have we done to you that you are punishing us like this? Do you want me to fall at your feet? Let me cut my wrists with this knife…’ (picks a butter knife)

4. ‘How times have changed he heh… when we were young we women could never speak like this in front of our elders he he he…’ [The effect is the exact opposite of Saas Bahu serials]

5. ‘What you write about is so depressing, why do you exaggerate so much? Can’t you find something positive to write about? Like, look at us, in the previous generations women did not work, but I have allowed my wife to work!’

(The response is amongst the things that make the movie worth watching.)

6. ‘You are offended because I insulted your husband? But he was insulting you… doesn’t that count?’

7. ‘She is married, now she is a **** (husband’s surname). Now his home is her home, his family is her family.’

8. ‘I am on top of the world, god has been kind. There is only one thing I want now – dear daughter please give us a grandchild.’

9. ‘What do you mean you are not sure you want to marry her? The business (that’s floundering and can be salvaged with this marriage) is not just our business, you are our only son, it’s your business too.’

10. ‘Who is that girl with him?’

11. ‘You want a divorce? What will our friends say?’

12. ‘Every marriage has problems. The easier way out is divorce. That’s not the right path. The difficult path is the right path.’

13. ‘There is no place for you in this house if you divorce him.’

14. ‘There is no place for you in this house if you don’t marry her.’

15. ‘I don’t want to hear about this.’ (But don’t you dare do what you were about to suggest you might)

And here are some points the movie made:

1. Financial independence and success does not automatically give women the confidence (or mindset) to expect to be treated as an equal, to object to misogyny, or to walk out of unhappy relationships.

Why PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi Can’t Have It All

2. Parents don’t always know, and/or even want the best for their children.

3. No divorce does not mean happy marriages.

4. Many women stay married because they have nowhere else to go. Women also stay married because they are pressurised to stay married.

5. ‘Get Married Stay Married and bear male children’ is viewed as the main goal for every Indian woman.

6. Daughters are viewed as Liabilities, or Paraya Dhan.

7. Sons are viewed as precious – but only because they are Assets, to be controlled for parents’ benefits (dowry, obedient and/or rich daughter in law, family business etc).

8. Creating a good impression on ‘everybody’ is more important for many Indians, than happiness of loved ones.

9. A son spending a night with a young woman is not the same as a daughter spending a night with a young man. One set of parents smiles proudly.

10. I am sure this movie succeeded in making atleast some conservative viewers look at Successful Divorces as a Happy Endings. (Queen managed to do the same thing with broken engagements)

Related Posts:

Eleven questions the family elders ask women in unhappy marriages.

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

Please watch Dum Laga Ke Haisha – where a man is asked to Please adjust and save his marriage.

Please watch ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ :)

Piku in Patriarchy.

Shuddh Desi Romance : When Getting Married and Staying Married is not an Indian woman’s life purpose.

‘Both families arrived at a compromise and she decided to continue to live with her gay husband.’

An email: “He told my MIL that he doesn’t like me. I knew he was depressed so I tried to console him.”

Recognizing Emotional Abuse – Priya

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

Pretty brides who respect elders and identify themselves with their husband’s families.

Catch all the dialogue promos of Dil Dhadakne Do here