Have your parents ever received a complaint about your morals, life style or personal choices…?

Not just colleagues, employers, teachers, neighbors and random stranger, but if the likes of C Manjula are to be believed, it seems even violent criminals are allowed to teach bad girls (and often even bad young boys) a lesson in India.

Do you agree?

Have your parents ever received a complaint about your morals, life style or personal choices, like how you dress, how you laugh, walk, talk, who your friends are, etc from relatives, teachers, employers, neighbors’ third cousins?

Were you an adult when these complaints were made?

What do you think motivated the complainant? What seems to concern the society the most in these matters – clothing, interactions, the hour of the day… are the intentions generally malicious or well-meaning?

Would the complainant have taken the same kind of effort to help a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault or dowry, or a road accident victim?

What makes Indians choose some issues over some other issues?

 

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45 thoughts on “Have your parents ever received a complaint about your morals, life style or personal choices…?

  1. I have always been a silent reader of your blog but today your post is actually screaming at me to write something…

    Yes IHM , sadly yes. My parents have received a lot of complaints about me when I was growing up. Not because of my own deeds, but simply because I was with wrong people and others choose to form an opinion for themselves. And the worst part is my parents choose to believe them rather than trust me. Its been more than a decade to those incidents and today I am all grown up but I can still see some remnants of those incidents. And for me it is very painful to even remember it. I see being cheated by everyone around me, who themselves were no saints but choose to crucify me for reasons unknown.

    I feel let down by my own parents at those times. Though today they don’t want to talk about it with me and want to treat it like a close chapter for me it is chapter which will never be closed and I will perhaps never be able to forget that. Forgive I might. Surprisingly today those very people are very nice towards me as I have become something which maybe their children could not… but I refuse to accept their compliments the same way I refused their criticism. I will not lie and say it did not affect me. It did. To a very large extent. And it still does…

    What motivated the complaint was sheer gossip – the ability to lay hands of some juicy piece of news which they could mould according to their imagination. Such people are compulsive gossip mongers and they are addicted to it. They are on a look out for such news every moment to lay their hands on.And no those people don’t treat other genuine victims with concern or care which they deserve. Simply because they will not get anything out of it. They might just to lay hands on the story and as a result cause more pain to already hurt victim.

    Sorry but I myself am looking for the answer to your last question…why are we like this. Why is our society like this? And why don’t people think before pointing fingers at others that there are 4 fingers pointing at them too?

    P.S: Sorry for such a long comment. But this post just triggered something in me.

    • // I refuse to accept their compliments the same way I refused their criticism.// Hats off!!!

      //I will not lie and say it did not affect me. It did. To a very large extent. And it still does… // Hugs Privy Trifles…

      //And no those people don’t treat other genuine victims with concern or care which they deserve. Simply because they will not get anything out of it. They might just to lay hands on the story and as a result cause more pain to already hurt victim.// I feel this is frequently true.

      Your long comment is welcome, thanks for sharing Privy Trifles.

    • I believe rather than wasting time on useless people, invest that same time in yourself or on productive issues! Our society is like this because we are a bunch of cowards, years of domination from western rule has made most of us stop thinking logically and creatively, because that is a painful process! we want the easiest route out, we want to fit in, we want our lives to be as peaeful as possible! We have lost the sheer joy of living for exploring this journey called llllife!

        • And this is the part of Ramayana I hate the most. Seems like Sita was not destined to experience happiness after marriage. Why should a washerman have a say in a couple’s married life? You cannot ask questions because it is an epic, I am told.

        • I have noticed most of us go back only upto the Western rule to find the answers that plague our society. I don’t believe at all that that is where our problems started. It goes way back more than that. We are a society that believes in giving credence and respect to what every Tom, Dick and Harry says even if it is totally untrue. Belief in self and standing up to people are not qualities that are imbibed or aspired for or even admired. It is always, “What will others think?” and modifying our actions accordingly. That’s cowardice. Where is the faith in self? One example is how parents don’t think about their daughter’s feelings or safety but only about society when they send her back to her abusive in-laws’ place. Then they cry over her dead body.

        • wrong comparison with Ramayan. Agreed that it is considered a religious text by many but it is at the end of the day a work of art, a beautiful one at that, and deserves poetic license.

          “There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all.” – Oscar Wilde

          Ramayan is a classic work of art full of all human emotions and all this way before the likes of Shakespeare made their mark in the literary world.

          I have read comments here deriding all aspects of religion (and correctly so most of the times.) but in this case you are trying to nitpick something from a book to suit your argument. Not fair.

        • contd….
          P.S. BTW something like that in real life would be dreadful and disgusting but I guess it is acceptable in a book.

      • Very true Janaki…and I have promised myself I will never let any other girl whom I know closely to go through this….. for sure. I had to because maybe at that time I did not have that much understanding or the guts to question them. Could be because of the high morale upbringing we get where our parents can never be wrong…but gradually I have accepted they can be. They are humans and they do make mistakes… but we should not let those mistakes hamper our lives… I am sure this will help us bring back the joy in our lives :D

  2. Yes.
    1.My parents received a complaint about my lifestyle from ex husband! He had an issue with how I dressed ( I never wore mini skirts while I was with him…but still), he had an issue with my best friend ( who’s a girl) and my male friends ( who I know since childhood).
    2. My parents also received complaints from his parents, that I did not cook in the house ( I was 20 when I was married and a bright law student and an all rounder), that I sat in my room the whole day ( I chose to read good books to watching hindi serials with them or engage in gossiping).
    3. In law college my parents received a complaint about me for standing up to a political science male teacher for passing derogatory remarks on females! When the teacher did not listen to my argument nor stopped passing remarks on females, I stopped attending his class and stopped respecting him. I don’t regret my decision till this day!
    4. In higher secondary, complaints came from college because I played more games than attend lectures. This I believe was well intentioned. It was a good college with good teachers.
    5. In school, complaints were made against me by a jealous teacher whose son was my classmate, about my behaviour in class and my result at some term exams!

    So 4 out of 5 times, the complaints were ill intentioned! Indian society is foolish! That’s the reality I have learned to accept. But it is not uncommon to find rare bright different thinking Indians around, and I believe in keeping in touch with them and wiping out the rest from my life. It makes my life simple and me a happy human being! :-)

  3. This was something my parents possibly figured might happen and I was always taught to let them know what I was doing and who I was with. There were times when I was a teenager and an adult (19-20) where some people told my mum they saw me with boys (all my friends) but my mum was able to tell them she already knew because I’d told her.

    The worst though was when I was here in Aus and was with my first boyfriend here and told a friend of mine back in India who thought I was being immoral because I said I didn’t know where the relationship was going and then she threatened to tell her mum and my mum. They did end up telling my mum but I told her about him before they had a chance. Thanks to that incident, the friend is now an ex-friend. I was hurt and angry that a friend could pass a judgement on me like that…to think that just because I kissed a guy and wasn’t sure if I was going to marry him I was committing the biggest crime in the world. I was 21 at the time, by the way.

  4. Cart loads of them

    1. You have a tomboyish daughter. Can’t she have a longer hair, wear some girly clothes and be a little sober( a girls’ school that i studied)
    2.You definitely need to teach your daughter sanskar, she is supposed to treat me with respect ( my aunt ! ) the reason – I had asked her not to bitch about my mum’s attitude to anyone. My mum is way too cool for any of my dad’s sisters.
    3. Your daughter in law dresses in jeans, and skin tight salwar kameez Ha!!! She doesn’t wear bindi sindoor etc (OMG! what are you teaching your young daughter in law) Haath se nikal jayegi – 5 yrs back to my MIL. ( She turned pretty cool about it – mind your business and let us mind our business)
    4. your daughter in law seems to have progressed from jeans to skirts, low cut sleeveless blouses ah!!! She is a mum of a baby girl after all. If she does all this what will she teach her daughter.

    (MIL – she has beautifully toned limbs, absolutely fat free yummy mommy, she wants to flaunt it and let her flaunt it. Talk to her if you are really bothered about it.) They dare not open the mouth against it to me.

        • I would definitely rate my in laws cool. I probably came to know of the brutal reality only in one of the weddings of a distant relative. From then on, i don’t attend any of the weddings that are held by the distant gang who are so-called conservative. These conservative extended household are people who think, post marriage a woman should look like a behenji in a sari, closed blouse and fat. Neither me, nor my mom nor my mil or sil fit that bill. We’re women who love dress up, good looks and great workouts.Mum and MIL do get a little sacred of the looks that we get when we step on the road, only out of basic discomfort of the looks do we avoid wearing shorts outside not otherwise.

  5. We were 4 daughters, and the whole (extended) family and neighbourhood took it upon themselves to keep vigil. Am not going to speak for my sisters. But here are a few of my own. My Chinese neighbour’s young cousin was visiting. ‘HE’ was 15 to my 12, and we had great fun sitting on the compound wall facing the street, in the evenings, sharing stories. So everyone ‘warned’ my mother.
    I was 16 and doing parttime jobs. After one gig, a group of us went to the beach, this included my sister’s friend and a few guys. The lady who ran the gig complained to my mum about going out without her permission.
    I was 18, and would regularly be dropped home from Alliance Francaise by one of my classmates. My aunt who lived in the compound bristled.
    I was 23, working at a newspaper and returning home everyday past midnight after my shift. Some days by myself, somedays accompanied by my male colleagues. Well, I stopped counting the number of people who were ‘concerned’ by this.
    My mum would inform me of these, sometimes with concern, sometimes just matter of fact. But I continued doing ‘bad girl’ things by hanging out with men at all hours of the day.
    Seriously, ‘f**k’ society… If I could go back to those days, I would have actually had MORE fun than constantly censoring my actions.

    • We were 3 girls at home too and I we lived in a pretty conservative area. I remember people staring when my sisters and I used to wear skirts and maxis. When my mom bought me a bicycle on my 12th birthday and I started going to school on my bike, we’ve had neighbors complain to my mom saying “badi aazaadi di hui hai ladki ko”.

      Once after my mom had taken me to have a haircut, an uncle of mine made a comment that why spend so much on a haircut when hair is going to grow back, because I had gone to a BEAUTY PARLOR to cut my hair instead of the local “hajaam”, Afterall girls from good families do not go to beauty parlors.

      When my parents bought me a scooty when I was in college, one of my dad’s friends told my mom “ladki ko scooty dilane ki kya zaroorat thi, agar accident hua aur langdi hogayi tho kaun shaadi karega”. My younger sister named him “langdi tang” after that. It’s been so many years and we still refer to him like that.

      I had an arranged marriage, but anyone who made me feel uncomfortable or queazy, my family would politely decline. This happened many times. A distant relative once asked my mom at a wedding as he was chomping on a chicken leg what she was doing to get me married as time was running out, like my mom was holding a live grenade in her hand. My mom politely told him that these decisions take time. Then he tells my mom in front of me that if she delayed getting me married any longer, I would find some guy from work and run away with him.
      I actually found his comment quite funny, but my mom didn’t. I got married the following year and he wasn’t on the guest list.

  6. IHM, this has happened with me. My mother was told I was seen with some boys (this was 1978) and whoever conveyed the news conveniently forgot to mention that there were other classmates (girls) and even my own cousin (girl) in the car with me. We were being dropped back by a couple of boys, family members of the bride (our classmate’s elder sis). How the person saw only me and not the others still remains a mystery. Of course my parents were skeptical about what I had to say. They just assumed I was lying, which used to be their default setting: you are guilty until proven innocent, which innocence if/when proved was admitted grudgingly or mostly not at all.
    Years later I have people giving me news about my own children and what I want to do is hit the moron over the head with the nearest handy object, a heavy one at that, and tell them to mind their own goddamn business. Like hell I need their help to know my own children!

  7. I used to hang out with a bunch of about 20-odd guys, friends of my boyfriend, all over our neighborhood. My parents knew, and when a few people informed my mom, she coolly told them that she knew who my friends were and that I keep her posted of my whereabouts and activities. They would have complained about my attire, but it was my mom who stitched that knee-length skirt for me that I wore to a college fest and many times afterwards. So yes, people tried, but thanks to my cool mom, I didn’t suffer the brunt of it. Her generation however, suffered a lot because of this social evil. An aunt of mine was even married off to her yoga instructor, because someone complained that she was having an affair with him… she was yet to finish her graduation… nobody asked how she felt, or whether she really liked that person or not!

  8. Frankly, I have no idea if my parents have ever received any complaints about me. Growing up, I always had my nose in some book or the other and was quite a good student (I’ve always enjoyed studying except Maths which would always inevitably lead to a shouting match between me and my Mum. She loves Maths and she could never understand how any daughter of hers could hate it!)

    As an adult, I’m sure they’ve received complaints. I’ve had my share of boyfriends (which they’ve always known about and in most cases, even met), I’ve had my share of clubbing…basically, I’ve had my share of fun. And on top of it, I used to be a model. So I’m sure there must have been complaints. But my parents being my parents (bless them) have never cared about all that. I’ve always been honest with them and they trust me, thank god. So while I’m sure there have been complaints (there must have been, most of my friends are guys, I hardly have any friends who are girls), I have never heard of any. It has never trickled down to me.

    But a few years ago, a friend of mine (from high school) moved to Mumbai. I was delighted obviously. She was one of my closest friends. And she’s a very social outgoing girl. Every weekend, she’d drag me out to some club or restaurant or party or a get together or something or the other. I’d always tag along with her and her BF (who she’s still dating). My then BF would sometimes come and sometimes not. A few months later, her mum started getting these anonymous calls saying “oh your daughter is going out clubbing, she’s going out with boys, she has a boyfriend, she comes back home late at night (when in most of the cases, she’d come back home late because she worked till late (she works hard and parties hard, I don’t know how she finds the energy to do all that!) and we all know Mumbai traffic) etc etc”. My friend tried protesting, she tried telling her mum the truth (or rather, a filtered version of it since she comes from a very conservative family) but her mum just wouldn’t listen. A few months later, she was whisked back to Canada (where her family lives). They tried getting her married to a family friends son as well (whom she had dated when we were all in high school together and she couldn’t stand him anymore because he had told her that after marriage, he would expect her to don the hijab) but thankfully, she put her foot down and said no, so that didn’t work out.

  9. I remember I was about 13, and had spent the weekend at an aunt’s place. My much older cousin dropped me off at home early Monday morning, and I got ready and went to school. Apparently, a neighbour was very concerned about my behaviour and told my mom to keep an eye on me coz I was staying out all night, guys dropped me off early in the morning, who would marry me, etc. etc.
    Fortunately Mom told her it was none of her business (didn’t try to explain), she knew how to bring up her daughter, thank you very much, and as for marriage, well, considering I was just 13, it was a long time away.
    We had a howl about it that evening, and the neighbour never spoke to mom again. Mom was pretty sure there was much gossip about her and what a lousy job she was doing as a mom. But she didn’t give a damn and told me I didn’t need to either.
    Not surprising, I never had any secrets from my mom, as I knew I could tell her anything without being judged. I wonder how many girls are that lucky.

  10. This is not new. Even eons ago people butted their nose into your business especially if u were a girl. I worked in b,lore and was dating (it wasn’t called that then ) my husband. He would come on business often. The b’lore branch flourished thanks to me :-) soon one friend of my dad took it upon himself o call my parents in madras and enlighten them. By then the tamasha of you cannot marry I’m was going on. But my parents and relatives –they always hunted in a pack called me set up. Council and declared that I was ruining the family name by bing seen with boys !!! Every trip home was terrible and I had to go, 3day leave meant I couldn’t stay in b’lore. Accompanied by threats of how me working away from home was a previlage not a right etc., etc., Luckily for me when I returned my boss and my then BF bolstered my courage and put feminist ideas into my head. I can’t forget the days and those relatives. Can’t even smile a them and have been so happy after I don’t keep contact. Sometimes I wonder what I would have gone thu had I not me mu husband and eft with him. I regret not having a daughter I would have raised her strong and amen my revenge on those who came to me about her.

  11. The complaining has got to do more with parents not believing their children, than society poking their nose in other’s business.

    I don’t think my parents ever received complaints about me. I have been a very good girl, you see :)
    The only time I faced complaint directly was from a senior security at the place I worked. I was just out of my college and had just started to work. I had to work with a boy who had also just joined and since we were juniors we were asked to take up jobs that involved going to different client sites. One such day we were walking into the campus, when this security man gets pissed off seeing us together and scolds us for hanging out in the campus and not in the park!! I got so angry and humiliated that day. We were just two colleagues doing our work. Now, what business did he have to judge us and give his mighty opinion?!! Or rather, the question should be, even if we were dating, what need did he see to pass his judgement? I am sure he only opened his mouth because we were young. May be he had taken it upon himself to protect the younger generation!

    I also had a cousin(from out of town) stay with us for her job. She was very close to my brother. They were of the same age and she used to accompany him whenever he went out. One nosy neighbor of ours started asking me(not my parents.. she was afraid to ask them, I guess) questions about their relationship! This cousin was an elder sister to us by relation, but I didn’t want to tell this to my neighbor because I didn’t want to quench her thirst for a potential gossip. But I told her anyway for the lack of a better answer.

  12. Yes, I have had complaints. I know three.

    1) When I was around 7, a neighbour told my mother that me and my 6 year old sister keep “roaming” around all the time and we grow up very “lose” since they were giving us too much “freedom.”
    My mother told her that she knew and she was the one who told us to go out and play because being locked in a room for the whole day as a kid hinders learning.
    They never talked much again. And she later said that the woman was mad.
    By the way, this woman had two sons who were 8 and 9 year old. They played all the time too. But apparently that was allowed and okay since men need the “exercise”.
    But after that, my mother started slowly asking us to come home early. We had a system at home. We had to get home immediately from school and then we weren’t allowed to go out to play. Only “lose” girls did that. I lived that way for ages and was HORRIBLY socially stunted since I was the only girl like that. The place I lived in was liberal and everybody assumed I was uptight and had some problem or studied all day..
    When I hit 14, I started rebelling and ignoring everything my parents said. I would go out cycling with my friend and my mother was VERY disproving of it. She says I am like a “wild cow” because I keep roaming around the city apparently. When I actually spent less time socialising.

    2) We also worse “salwars” since we hit puberty. Really cheap salwars too since my parents believe unmarried girls have no business looking good. EVER. We started wearing western clothes only after one of relatives told my mum that we look like their maid’s children in our clothes. We also had boy cuts to make sure we looked as boring as possible.

    3) When I was 8-9, I had gone to visit the aunt I talk about in the last para here. There I sat in my father’s lap when he was watching TV and this aunt’s husband SCREAMED at me. Suddenly, and rudely and VERY frighteningly. He made me cry and what was it about? I was “shameless” because I was sitting on my pa’s lap!!!!! I was a kid!
    Later on, I avoided that guy out of fear for a really long while and my aunt used be “proud” about how “strict” he was. She seemed to be under the misconception that me fearing him meant I respected him! That family disgusts me.

    My father is pretty naive about these things for some reason. So he probably didn’t even notice it if somebody complained. Now, I have made him aware that people are sexist so now such people either really interest him scientifically or they give him headaches.
    When somebody says something even slightly sexist to him, he comes home and tells me like- “You know, so and so person said that? Can you believe it? Poeple are so weird!”
    Once my father had gone to a bank to make an account for either my sister or me, and there was a guy from his office there. He asked my father why he was making an account for us, and wasting his money on us since we would “leave” anyway. Dad was completely baffled. And he was confused for days afterwards about how a person could think like that.

    I have grown up with people being “sympathatic” to my parents. One of my aunts who I HATE used to bully us. She and her husband would look at us with pity and I have cried a few times because of them. i hated them as a kid. Her husband was also a creep. Gave me a paedo feeling. She would complain ALL the time about everything. Like we shouldn’t talk loudly, we shouldn’t sit this way or that way. Once she made this HUGE issue when we visited her that it was my mum’s period so she couldn’t enter her kitchen, bla bla bla. She is a bully. I ignore her now but growing up, she has made me, my mum, and my sister cry a lot! My father, as is typical doesn’t see anything she does. She once refused to give my sister glucose since she was a woman and she should learn to suffer! And my father ignored that issue and was actually trying to talk to me about how non sanskari my mum is that she asked my masi to pick her up when we had a marriage! I told him that his sister was an awful person and if he didn’t want to stand up to her, I am glad my mum did. They never did it for me! I am not gonna stand around and have that happen to my sis! She is a brat and tomboy and she can do whatever she wants!

    • Oh yes, at home we are also not allowed to talk to our friends. Even if they are girls.

      I think my parents would have had the same rules for a brother too because most of their rules weren’t about what people would say but mostly about them saying that we had to study.. They are not opposed to love marriages either.
      It is complex at home.
      The whole not dressing up thing was about my father believing that intelligent women did not bow down to societal pressures. Like Indira Gandhi, Hilary Clinton, etc.. He would say all brave women have short hair, so we had short hair.

      Similarly, the thing about not going out. My father stayed out after 7 pm for the first time when he was making the house we now live in. At around 48. Yes, till then he had ALWAYS reached home before 7.
      The first time he was outside at night after 12 am was to pick me up. He was so afraid that he brought a friend because A)He never goes out, so he isn’t familiar with the city routes and B) he was afraid of criminals.

      My mother on the other hand, is more of a practical person. She doesn’t trust people. Till date, the only person she has liked as my friend was my ex boyfriend. She liked him. She let me go out as long as he was dropping me off. She didn’t care what people thought. But that was it. She never let me have sleep overs with relatives. Told me specifically to keep my distance from ALL male relatives. ALL of them even men who were related to HER(like my maternal aunt’s husband!)

      So, yeah.. I think they did the think they felt was right.. It wasn’t really about me being a girl as much as me paying less attention to studies.

  13. Hi IHM,
    Who the hell “complains” because they are “concerned” or “well-meaning”? The idea is to cause hurt, humiliation and then savour all that gleefully.

  14. When I was 16 years old I had a male friend over at my house swimming. We were in the back yard in plain sight of all the neighbors. At some point we were apparently too close to each other and the preacher from my step-father’s church came to our home. He heard noise in the back yard and came back there and “saw” us. To this day I don’t understand what he thought he was implying that he saw but I can assure you I wasn’t doing anything sexual in the pool like he had my parents believing I was. This is just one such incident. I’ve had countless judgments placed on me, some for things someone else did and all occurred before I ever moved to India.

    In India our neighbors judged me before I came and still judge me. They tell my relatives that because I’m white I will leave my husband and that I only came there to use him for sex. Yes this is absurd, I lived there for 16 months. I’ve never heard of anyone using Indian men for sex much less going through so much trouble to do so. But, as I’m sure most of you know, the aunties make up all kinds of crazy rumors just like the same aged people do here.

    Some people just need to get a life of their own so they can stay out of ours.

  15. Growing up, a million times people told my parents what they saw/imagined. And sadly a million times my parents believed these people , imposed more and more restrictions to “protect” me , and effectively pushed me further and further away from them.

    When I was 27, and had just gotten divorced, I went off to B’lore to celebrate with my best friends. My friends , mostly married , came out to party with me, husbands tagging along. As a group, we get along fabulously with the husbands as well. So we partied for the 3-4 days I was there. Now some relative, spotted me somewhere during this time, and told my dad , that I, as a divorced woman was “tempting” and “leading my friends husbands astray”, and effectively “ruining more marriages” . And once again sadly , my dad instead of standing up against such nonsense , chose to try and prevent me from going again.

    Of course , I do what I like now, and have no patience for such nonsense, even if it comes from my own parents.

    I agree with American punjaban , most people who do this really have no life of their own, or are unhappy in their own lives.

  16. When I was in my graduation, one of my neighbor complained that my skirt is getting shorter day by day. Then came the apt reply from my dad, oh no yesterday’s was shorter than today and I think my girl looks so good in skirt that everyday you notice her. She never complained to my dad again.
    The best shocker was during my marriage. After marriage i had to go for my visa interview where finger scanning is required, so i had my mehndi very lightly applied so that it wont affect my visa process. After marriage one of relative from in laws side told my mom in law that her bahu’s mehndi is very faint. And my mom in law gave such a good reply that i started laughing. Her reply was anytime she wants she can put mehndi. But visa interview is scheduled as per company and they wont wait for mehndi to faint . after 20 days of marriage i was allowed to travel US that to alone . So people comment but it depends on family how they react to that..

  17. Pingback: A light hearted take on the way future is dear to the girls and present to the boys? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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