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

Sharing an email.

“An acquaintance actually came home to tell my father that I spoke to a boy in the bus and advised my father to be careful.”

“Relatives made fun of how my parents were ‘investing too much’ in mere daughters.”

I am sharing my story with you after having read news/posts on how daughters are raised to be wives and mothers, how they are poisoned for not bearing son [A godman declared that she would never bear a boy. Hearing this, in-laws decided to eliminate her], and how few girls themselves feel that they have the right to get money from their parents as dowry and therefore refuse to take up jobs. Yes, there are girls who think they are entitled to receive huge amounts as dowry from parents.

I am sharing this to let people know that there are positive stories and that there is hope if parents treat daughters as daughters and support them without adhering to  the ‘paraya dhan’ concept.

My mother passed away last year. As we all coped with the tragedy, we, three sisters, thought about our father  who would have had to fight loneliness. My eldest sister lives in India and my other sister and myself live abroad and therefore, it was practical for my father to stay with my sister in India. As soon as the decision was made, my sister and brother-in-law made arrangements for my father to move in with them. So after settling things at our home town, my father moved in with them last month. All of us have been very happy with this. He is happy and tells me he is very relaxed and well taken care of by my sister and her family.My father knows he is very much welcome to stay with me or with my other sister.

By the way, my parents were actually consoled by few for having 3 daughters. Few even offered free advice “dont educate them beyond 12th or BSc. They will get ‘spoilt’. I am glad that my parents never thought of raising us as ‘future daughters-in-law’. Education, independence, ability to face challenges – were given more prominence. In fact, my dad had made it clear that all three of us should study until post graduation and earn before we married. “Marriage and motherhood can wait. Please make yourselves strong enough to face challenges life throws at you”, he would say. My mother was a living example of how not compromise with ideals, be strong, have tremendous will power and a very positive attitude.

Let me share the comments that my parents and my sisters and myself had to face: (of course those who crossed limits were given stern responses by my parents and us). Will not include all that to avoid having a very long post.

1. My parents were asked to monitor three of us closely as we travelled to college everyday. This was to ensure that  we did not talk to boys, did not sit next to them or ‘get spoilt’ (read made plans to elope). Of course, my parents never did so.

2. An acquaintance actually came home to tell my father that I spoke to a boy in the bus and advised my father to be careful. My father told that person that he knew the boy and his family and that he had no objection whatsoever if I spoke to boys.

3. When my eldest sister gave birth to her second daughter, a visitor on knowing it was a baby girl sighed “aah!! what to do? Just have to accept the fate”.

4. We were consoled for not having a brother to whom we could tie ‘rakhi’ on Raksha Bandhan day. “Tch tch, if only you had a brother….”.

5. Few  relatives made fun of how my parents were ‘investing too much in us’ . Being in a small town meant we had to be married off as as soon as possible and my parents were asked ‘not to dream the impossible and have so much expectations”.  My mother was asked why she was delaying marriage of her daughters. She did not respond then. But after we finished post graduation, found well-paying jobs and eventually got married, all those who commented admitted that my parents made the right decision.

My sisters and I are following the example set by my parents. Our daughters will be respected and will be  encouraged at all times to achieve what they wish to in their lives. They will not be raised as future ‘daughters-in-law’.

– Sandhya

Related Posts:

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

Can you be equal if you are not allowed to make equal contribution?

Dheeyaan dee maa rani, bhudhaapey bharey paani

Keeping her maiden name can save an Indian woman’s life.

Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions.

Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC

Paraya dhan and her limited rights.

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

  1. Thank you, Ritu and Pallavi. Am very thankful to my parents. My parents had progressive thoughts. Apparently, my mother went on her own to get her MBBS admission done in a city which was far from her home town rather than rely on her father to help her out. My grandfather used to say that my mother was unperturbed by negative influences. After I got married and moved to Singapore, she would ask on phone “so any update on finding a job there?”. Once when I was dejected that my application was turned down she said ” If I can make a career for myself in a small town why can’t you be strong enough to make a career for yourself in a country like Singapore?”. That motivated me a lot.

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        • Yes, Pallavi. Amma was a go-getter. I remember how she ran the house and clinic on her own when my father was not well. He was unable to move around until a surgery was done. My sisters were doing their post graduation and I was in my 12th. She handled housework, practiced at the clinic, and made sure our fees were paid on time. This influenced me very much and made me realise the importance of financial independence.

          @Shubha: Yes, Amma was the best. I feel her presence every day.

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    • And stories like that of your mother and father are the reason why we can never give up on India. Just too many small-town heroes and heroines for us to become cynical. Let’s support their free thinking by changing laws and attitudes in general.

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  2. In my S S L C class, in English language subject ,there was a lesson called GOOD BRICKS BY C RAJA GOPALACHARI ,.in which he was exhorting/comparing all the student population of India to be good bricks of a building,irrespective of male or female. Moreover he said that education to a female child should be MUST because she would become first teacher to a child when she becomes mother. If the bricks are good, the building would be strong and would last long. Like wise,education to all children irrespective of sexes would build a good society/country.

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  3. I am lucky to have such a set of parents. Especially my mother, who has not seen much beyond her small town and had not graduated. They stood firmly by me when I told them I will not get married until I pass my CA and asked to get my younger sister married off. That was a vey brave decision in a fairly Orthodox family in a small village.
    We were 4 girls and brother was the youngest. No special preferences or ‘only the best’ for the long awaited son or such nonsense. We were allowed to study as much as we wanted. My mother was a fierce proponent of girls should have their own income, come what may. She even encouraged us to have our own secret stashes🙂

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  4. My parents were the same, growing up we did no have a lot of money nor was I a very bright student to win scholarships but I was very ambitious and just wanted to break free from the small town I came from. And thank god I had parents who never ever stopped me from doing anything. I had their support at all times and I am forever thankful to them.

    It so good to hear such positive stories isn’t it. A few people who manage to stand out from the crowd and make their daughters independent thinkers and not just somebody’s wife or daughter in law.

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    • Well written post Sandhya..
      i remember the day i told him a boy was stalking me.. he said… arree who is it chap following you? he shud meet an optholmologist… tere peeche pada hai? ” that made me smile and i forgot the tension i had . How many can talk to their dad about a guy following them without the parent making them feel that it was the girls fault…
      the other mantra i tell my girls too is Trust and Freedom come with responsibilities.. so do your rights, if you ask for the three then you should act responsibly.. 3 : 1 ratio is a good deal isnt it my girl?

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      • I know. Dad was so liberal with his thoughts. He would say that he had immense trust in us and he was sure we would never break his trust. Yes, trust and freedom come with responsiblities. Am sure your girls will never let you down in this regard.

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  5. Wow! That’s how people should be. Treat your children equally, be it a boy or a girl, respect their existence and command love and respect. One of our very close family friends (a distant relative too), used to tell my Dad in Malayalam,

    “Njhaan thala pokki pidichu sthreedhanam vaangumbol, Ravi, thala thazthi irrikkanam, randu penkuttikkalle kettikkanam engil.”

    Translation: “When I’ll hold my head up in pride and demand dowry, you’ll have to bow down in front of others to get your two girls married.”
    My sister and I used to hate him so much for this.
    By God’s grace, we both are post graduates and have gotten married to educated young professionals without having to spend a single penny as dowry to buy them.

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      • Really shameless. It used to hurt us so much as kids. But by the time, we were in college, we knew it doesn’t matter because our parents were working hard and wanted us to study as much as we can and become independent before getting married. In fact, my grandmother who was 72 when I got into college was the one who used to tell us to study and become doctors and engineers. She used to say, marriage and child birth is not the ultimate goal of your life. Be someone, do something for humanity. She indeed was a progressive woman.

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    • I hate this mentality, I’ve also heard of some smug idiots telling me ‘ when we went to meet girls for our son we told them ,we have no demands ‘
      as if it’s a great deed they are doing, dowry is illegal, morally , social and legally. period. If i had a daughter ,I’d throw his ass in jail if he demanded a dowry.

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      • Yeah…and I have seen many such from the dowry seeking species. My Dad used to politely ask them to get out of the house, because he was not interested in buying “Pachakari” (Vegetables) for his daughters to experiment with.🙂

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  6. “As soon as the decision was made, my sister and brother-in-law made arrangements for my father to move in with them.”

    Father in law moves in with daughter and son-in-law. Applause!

    Mother in law moves in with son and daughter in law. What a patriarchal nightmare!

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    • Not always. This depends on whether the parent/s are old and non mobile or whether they are healthy and capable of having a social life without imposing on their children. Parents usually move in with daughters only if there is no other way, but son’s parents demand it as a right without even consulting his partner. This is what is a nightmare, not people desiring to look after their parents.

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    • Sumit, please consider why one situation is seen as a nightmare and why the reverse is not. In many cases, the m-i-l has a sense of entitlement – in her mind, it is still “her primary family” and the d-i-l is an addition. She may impose her ways, dominate, interfere, or criticize the way the family is run, assuming she has every right to do so. When the daughter’s parents live with their daughter’s family, in most cases, they understand that the husband wife unit are the primary family. There are boundaries that do not get crossed. Little surprise that this arrangement is not seen as threatening to anyone.

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      • I am fascinated with this prima facie assumption that “When the daughter’s parents live with their daughter’s family, in most cases, they understand that the husband wife unit are the primary family.”

        It so happens that my cousin sister’s husband is a “ghar jamai” (although he didn’t start out that way). In fact, my uncle and aunt are old and my cousin sister wanted to move in with her parents to take better care of them. He has a job that doesn’t pay well either. I have seen his status in the family. He is the errand boy for all and sundry…

        Perhaps the REAL factor here is whose roof they are living under. If the DIL is living under the MIL’s roof, it is understandable that MIL would have “a sense of entitlement”. After all, she OWNS the house, she IS entitled. I can’t blame her for having a “my house, my rules” attitude. I can assure you it works just as well with all genders reversed.

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        • Not always Sumit . My brothers wife does not want to leave her parents and since she is the engineer who brings home the big money now , she has the upper hand. My brother is just starting out again as a lawyer and though he does not know the language of the south ( you need local language when it comes to courts ) is going home to live with his wife’s parents and wife , NOT by choice. He has a roaring career in Bombay , but somehow he has not confidence or self esteem. Is it because he had a sisters who had a strong opinion ? OR does he beleive that “engineers are god”. Also my brothers ‘s mother- in- law is very NASTY towards him , because he does not have a job when he is in Chennai. !

          When people do not believe in themselves , they get walked over – Male or femaile. It happened to me as well but things changed –

          A balance human being and society is when masculine and feminine energy works together. Not when topples over the other – patriarchial over matriarchial over the other

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        • a “ghar jamai” moves in with his parents-in-law, into someone elses house, and is likely to face as many issues a daughter-in-law in a joint family does. As you pointed out, it’s a question of whose house it is.

          On the other hand, all Indians feel that a son’s house is their own house and that they’re still the head of the household thus leading to all sorts of friction whether the MIL moves in with the son and his wife or the wife gets married and moves into a joint setup.

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        • //”Perhaps the REAL factor here is whose roof they are living under. If the DIL is living under the MIL’s roof, it is understandable that MIL would have “a sense of entitlement”.//

          So you think when MIL moves in she does not have a sense of entitlement?! Since you have given one example to prove your point, let me also give you *one* example. I personally know of a MIL who thinks she owns *even* the fruits of the guava tree that grows in the yard of her son’s government issued quarters! That’s how entitled most Indian MILs feel when it comes to the son.

          I am not saying there aren’t any FILs who treat their sons-in-law as dirt. But THAT is NOT the norm. Those are exceptions. On the other hand MILs treating the DILs as some lower species is not only widespread but is accepted as normal (why else is it dinned into her from birth how she has to comport herself at her in-laws’ place?) by society and even HER OWN PARENTS who ask HER to adjust, leaving her helpless.
          Besides, parents staying with the daughter is frowned upon by society. So when it does happen like in the example above, it certainly merits applause, a lot of applause, after all a rigidly held nonsensical belief is being broken.

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        • No it has nothing to do with whom the house belongs to. Even in cases where the house belongs to the son and the wife, if the son’s parents visit they treat it like their second home, while the wife’s parents behave like visitors. This is often explicitly stated or implicitly assumed by all parties concerned. Just as an e.g. when my maternal grandparents would visit they would always check dates, times with my parents and ensure they were not causing any inconvenience or we did not have other plans. But with my Dad’s family (his entire family not just parents) there was never any question of even asking. People would land up, stay as long as they liked and leave when they felt like. People might say this was just a difference in behavior but I’ve seen the pattern repeated many times over including now with myself and my husband for it not to be a coincidence.

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        • Sumit, this is not a prima facie assumption. It is based in reality – sons-in-law are respected in our culture, it is the norm to treat them as individuals, and it is against the norm to criticize or interfere in one’s son-in-law’s matters. That is why I said “most families” – there will always be a few exceptions. Whereas it IS the norm to interfere in the daughter-in-law’s most personal choices (how to dress, when to bathe, what to cook, etc.) and of course there are a few exceptions to this too – m-i-l-s who have their own lives, m-i-l-s who are supportive, etc. In a few such homes, the presence of a mi-il is not seen as a threat.

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      • My ex-GFs parents were a freak show and she couldn’t see that. We broke up over her parents behavior, believe it or not. Imagine if I’d married her, we’d be knee deep in trouble by now, with her defending her parent’s stupidity.

        I think it’s fair to say that either set of parents can be troublesome if they don’t behave as adults, they can damage any relationship. Let’s not just blame the guy’s parents.

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        • //”I think it’s fair to say that either set of parents can be troublesome if they don’t behave as adults, they can damage any relationship”//

          If a majority of men were adult enough to understand this argument, majority of problems also would disappear. But most men are NOT mature enough to accept that their parents could ever cause trouble.

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      • For my family, at least, it has always worked to have my mothers mother stay with us. My grandmother is quite a fussy person to live with, and her daughters-in-law would usually end up arguing and fighting with her. When she lives with us, she does end up arguing with my mother, but it’s a lot easier to argue and make up with your actual mother compared with your mother-in-law. Plus she is scared of my father, so she stops complaining as soon as he comes into the room.

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    • Sumit, in our country MIL does not move in with son and DIL. Rather, DIL moves in with son/mother.

      Your sarcasm (if it is sarcasm) would be valid if we start seeing thousands of cases of FILs burning their SILs for money or SILs changing their names to please their FILs or FILs ordering the SILs about to control their lives and force them to do their bidding.

      Till then, your sarcasm (if it is sarcasm) does not hold water. SILs do not face anything close to the kind of nightmares that most DILs face with their in-laws.

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    • Sumit, let me tell you the story of my friend. Her FIL passed away and MIL moved in with them. One day when my friend’s mother came to visit the daughter, the MIL commented that mothers of daughters shouldn’t be drinking water in a daughter’s house and stay only for a couple of hours. The mother was very hurt and went back immediately. Why do you think the MIL is entitled to stay in the house but my friend’s mother is expected to stay for couple of hours only? In light of such incidents, isn’t it a welcome change to have parents of daughters live with the daughters? The purpose of my post is to share positivity and that there is hope for Indian daughters. And let me also tell you that all three of us share exceptionally good relations with our respective in-laws. We have stayed with our respective in laws and they have stayed with us for long periods of time. Just because I did not mention about the in laws does not mean we have a problem with them.

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    • Sumit, it can be a nightmare either ways if it doesn’t go well after the move. In this case FIL was invited to stay with the daughter and her husband after much consultation with other two siblings. It was a collective decision, whereas MIL or ILs moving to a son’s home is seen as obvious and inevitable and mostly no discussion ever takes place. Parents of either husband or wife can move in with any of the children, or live on their own based on the family dynamics and the kind of relationship they have with each other.
      I can’t see myself living with either my ILs or parents simply because thats me and I can’t tolerate others controlling what I do. So if there is a situation where either of the parent has to move in with us, we will discuss and come to a conclusion.

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    • Isn’t it sad how true it is? A progressive father is not likely to discriminate against his son-in-law and make daily comments on the state of his daughter’s well being. Nor is he likely to want special service from his son-in-law. He’s not likely to think this this is his entitlement as he is the parent of a daughter.

      An average Indian mother-in-law on the other hand…

      And yes, the man would have to be progressive to be able to move in with his daughter as no typical Indian father would even stay with his daughter for long periods let alone move in with her.

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  7. awesome, a bright example of how to raise kids , in fact only parents like this should be having kids. such a positive thing to hear.

    Only one advise , if her dad is lonely, he should be encouraged to do what interest him, meet other people e likes and maybe in future form a bond with someone else. even in old age people need to lead a full happy life. there is no age bar to happiness.
    looks like he has raised 3 wonderful kids who will encourage him when he is down, after all that’s the most important thing in life isnt it.

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    • Radha ji, the very reason we had our father move in with my sister is to ensure he does not feel lonely. After my mother passed away it took almost an year for my father to move in, as he had to sell the house in the home town and settle other issues as well. During this one year, we were always worried about his health, My sisters and I took turns to be with him as much as we could so that he does not feel lonely. Now, my sister says he has made friends with like minded people of his age in the apartment complex. We have asked him to travel and spend time with his siblings. He could not travel much all these days given his commitments as a doc. After that he plans to visit an old age home nearby and offer free medical services to the inmates there and make friends in the process..

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    • When I was in the US, one of my friends’ mom came to visit. My friend’s father had passed a way many years before. When my friend took her mom to her workplace, an American colleague of my friend asked if her mom would be interested in meeting someone (as in for a date). My friend’s mother was scandalized.

      So many Indians who heard this story – girls and guys alike – were so judgmental of American culture. As though Americans are in some way inferior to us because they believe a person can have a romantic interest after a long-time partner has passed away. I really don’t get it. Isn’t it a purely personal choice? It’s certainly not cheating if you find love after being widowed but it’s considered so shameful in India. So refreshing to see someone else who realizes that your right to pursue happiness doesn’t end at a “certain age” or with a certain type of loss.

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  8. I am raising a daughter. I am going to make it clear to her that the following apply as she grows up:

    1- Leave home when you turn about 18 and go for college and then never come back. You are then only welcome as a guest for extended period but that is it.

    2- I will pay all your college expenses and support you for one more year after that. Beyond that, do not expect anything from me, except perhaps loans, even if you are unemployed.

    3- Find your own mate. By the look of how things have gone so far, I am guessing ~ 20 years are already going to be too tiring for me to baby sit you further.

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    • “1- Leave home when you turn about 18 and go for college and then never come back. You are then only welcome as a guest for extended period but that is it.”
      I am not sure of the tone of this advice. In my early twenties, I remember my Mom saying to her friends when they would ask her about my marriage plans – “Once she finishes her education and gets a job, it will be time to get out and be married off” and she would snap her thumb and middle finger while doing it. Then they would all smile like it was perfectly normal for a mother to say this. I had seen some other mothers of her age also saying something similar. For some reason, I remember being deeply hurt by those statements. I am even today. It made me feel like I was being a burden on the family, even though it was very much the opposite. I used to help my Mom with a major part of the housework, helped raise my infant brother (we had a significant age gap) like a second mother, when I started working would regularly contribute financially to the household and was generally always trying to please my parents. So I did not understand where the ‘get out’ tone came from.

      I think a better way to say it is something like – “We want you to support you in finding your way in this world. It would be good to start looking at options for you to stay independently after – and know that we are always there to stand by you and turn to for advice should you need it.” The TONE matters a LOT.

      To this day I hold a grudge against my parents for saying some very insensitive things along the same lines. I would never say such things to my daughter.

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      • I tell my sons i love them but once they become adults and we finished up with education it was a MANDATORY MUST for them to become self sufficient, I also made it v clear, we their parents were wealthy, they were not🙂
        It doesnt mean we dont love them, but I’m also very firm that once they finish their education, job and living by themselves was a given, I’m not washing anyones dirty laundry or paying for it. They MUST leave.

        personally even if my sons contributed financially an helped me with housework I want my space , when they are adults i want them out. nothing to do with money or help or anything, it is MY house and their time in it is UP. of course i will never let them starve or sleep on the streets but thats why i educate them and help them to self-sufficiency. but however much it hurts them i dont want grown men staying in my house while me na dtheir father cater to them …we can meet often, dine together often, go on vacation often an dgenerally be a kushi kushi family, but my life is my own, I have waited many long yrs for the free time and space to do what i want without their schedules taking importance.

        I do empathize that you feel bad and i agree that the tone could make a difference but unfortunately the message is the same. some babies will leave on their own, some need ot be gently nudged and some need to be kicked out …. such is life.

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        • True. But perhaps the mother needn’t assume that the baby will have to be kicked out and state this assumption loudly and frequently together with an accompanying snap of the fingers even before the child is ready to think about moving out.

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    • 1- Leave home when you turn about 18 and go for college and then never come back. You are then only welcome as a guest for extended period but that is it.

      Its not just the tone, even the actual words are unwarranted! You’re basically telling a child that called your ‘house’ home for 18 years that she is no longer welcome there? That suddenly she is a guest? I would be angry if my parents said this to me. Is this not the same as “paraya dhan”? What exactly changes when she is 18 that she suddenly becomes a guest, and no longer a part of your family? Of course, you ought to encourage her to be self-dependent, but that doesn’t mean she’s suddenly a stranger who only gets to visit her childhood home. You ought to convey to her that you want her to be independent, but that you will always be there to support her when she wants and needs.

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      • Not exactly starlit wishes… It is not about being a guest in your parents house once you tuen 18.. it is all about leaving the cocoon of your parents nest to have one of your own which is very very essential. Your parents are primarily a couple then your parents. They need space of theirs too. And us kids… well I too belong to the 18 and out category … couldnt move out at 18 but moved out at 21 found a job at 23 and never took a penny from dad after that.. And support is implicit but taking them and their house for granted is definitely not . I never think I can barge into my parents house to stay for a week or so without checking out their plans and the potential inconvinience it causes them.. and I guess it is basic courtsey that we extend to others that we r extending to them too

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        • I agree that we should leave the cocoon and form our own somewhere, but a parent telling a child to leave and only come back as a guest is harsh. Your parents might be a couple first, but they don’t stop being your parents the moment you become an adult, and your childhood home doesn’t suddenly become a place where you visit as a guest. Of course, once you’ve moved out, you ought to confer them about coming back and staying with them, but that doesn’t mean it isn no longer your home.

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      • My father has told me some variation of this-he will pay for my education upto undergraduate level, and masters too, if he is able to. When I finish my education he will give me one property that is due to me, to sell or live on as I wish. But I cannot expect anything beyond that. If I get a job in the same city as them I am free to move back, but I will be expected to contribute to household expenses and such.
        Even then, telling someone to move out at 18 and never come back seems really harsh. It reminds me of my american friends who see moving in with their parents as the low point of their lives, even if it makes sense for everyone concerned.

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      • Why should people have so much entitlement to be given a house to call their own on a platter as soon as they grow up. We are renting right now so she is not going to see the house of her childhood anyway. And even if she did, didn’t I say she is welcome for extended visits to see her childhood room and old toys? For how many months does she need to hug those goodies in an average year? Surely I expect her to have a life as well. If she wants to make my house her long term abode, she is definitely not welcome, because I do want to see her as an independent , self sufficient person.

        A loved childhood, a good education, an expensive college all paid for and a safety net in the form of the loans. Not even 1 % people in the world have this as a start. Thats a lot of privilege and I certainly have high hopes that with this much priviledge she does come out to be a self sufficient, independent and capable person. I do not want to give her any more priviledge and entitlement and risk the chance of making her dysfunctional, seen a lot of that. I do care for her a lot to do that.

        Also, its not that I want to save money or something. I will probably be buying her expensive gifts but she can not look forward to them. I will make sure that she does not get those before she is touching 30 and has made something out of her life.

        As far as the possibility of her feelings getting “hurt”, I guess it is alright. Tough love is sometimes required. She also get “hurt” when she is told she can not buy the 2nd DVD for the week.

        Why did you assume that I will tell her that I am a stranger to her? Parents’ devotion is almost always a given, it is the other way around that is difficult: convincing the growing up kid that she can not come running to daddy dear every time there is a touble. Although I will always be there for her and many stumbles may break my heart but you see it is my responsiblity to see that she turns out to be a responsible, independent and self-sufficient adult. Irony is that the very nature of the responisbility requires that I take up minimum responsibilities.

        BTW what 20 something with a thriving personality longs to be bound to their parental home and see their old geezer every day?

        Lastly, helping your daughter become a responsible, independent adult is not equivalent to making them some one else’s property that is “paraya dhan”. And what changes at around 18 is that they start to enter adulthood. In case you noticed, they can vote, marry buy property at around that age.

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        • Lastly, helping your daughter become a responsible, independent adult is not equivalent to making them some one else’s property that is “paraya dhan”. And what changes at around 18 is that they start to enter adulthood. In case you noticed, they can vote, marry buy property at around that age.

          I think it is, in a way. I mean sure you’re not saying she’s someone else’s property, but you ARE saying that she is no longer your concern once she turns 18 – she should go out and fend for herself and shouldn’t expect anything from you. Well, the second part is fine, she shouldn’t EXPECT unreasonable things. But your responsibility to your child doesn’t end on her 18th birthday. And I don’t believe that at 18 she is an adult who can suddenly fend for herself – she will likely be entering college or university, which is a minimum 4 years, or more if she chooses to pursue grad school. I am not saying you ought to be paying for all her expenses – I paid for my own education after 18. But, to tell her to ‘pack your bags and only come back for a few days as a guest’, well, that’s uncalled for. She will need time to finish her education, find a job, settle into it, etc. And she might need to live with you in the meantime. Of course, you would expect her to contribute to the household, including finances and chores. But would you really turn her away?

          Leaving at 18 and never returning (except for a few days) was a trend in North America until a few years ago. As someone mentioned previously, young men and women hated having to live with their parents after college etc. But, with the economic conditions as they are, many have chosen to move back, simply because it is much more convenient for them, especially the ones pursuing grad school. I notice that many of them who have lived alone for years will make this a temporary arrangement, and move out as soon as they can. But, the parents don’t force that on them if the child cannot afford to live by himself or herself.

          Of course, people have different parenting strategies and you are entitled to parent your daughter the way you see fit. I would just think that if my parents said that to me, I would be very hurt, not because I feel I am entitled to live in their house or inherit it or anything, but because it is my home too, is it not?

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      • There are 2 sides to this issue. Ideally we want our kids to develop independence but we want to be there for them when life treats them harshly. There is no single formula – some kids leave home at 18, others leave at 22, or 25. Most kids leave home between 18 to 25 to go out into the world and become adults. I don’t think there’s a set formula for how much financial support should or should not be provided either. It really depends on the family, the child’s needs, their personal wealth management style. Sometimes kids grow out of their childhood homes and still make mistakes. Parents should be there for their kids during their time of need. This is not the same as letting your children gamble away tons and then parents paying for it. What I mean is, let your adult children face some of the consequences, but also support them through the rough phases (even if they were caused by their own mistakes), and help them get back on their feet.

        My cousin’s son spent and lost all of his money at a casino, and later got fired from his job for sloppy work. His parents took him in but did not baby him. He was asked to find another job and contribute to the family. However, staying with them meant food and rent were free. They also talked to him about coming up with a better plan for the future, and participated in sessions with a counselor to deal with his gambling. He began to take up running and got back in shape (a way of dealing with the gambling by making and sticking to positive goals). 3 years later, he is back on his feet and much more responsible and mature. He couldn’t have done it without his parents’ help. We do need to be there for our kids, no matter what their age.

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    • 🙂 hello B. My parents did not plan it this way, but that’s exactly what happened with me. I left for college at the age of 17, and have been on my own since. My parents are very traditional, and would prefer to have me arranged-married to someone rather than have me living alone like I do, but I will have none of it. I earn my own money, send some back to my folks occasionally (they’re taking care of themselves, so don’t “need” my money), and travel around the world cos that is my true passion. No man in the picture yet, cos unfortunately there aren’t too many feminist men out there. Indian culture seems to be breeding more mama’s boys than men, as we can clearly see from this blog. But that’s okay, cos being married is not the be-all and end-all of my existence.

      It’d be nice though, if there were more parents who treated their sons better like these parents do their daughters. Right now, parents of daughters are being progressive while parents of sons are still raising a man-child and telling him he’s entitled to slave for a wife and whatever else he feels entitled to.

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    • B, I take issue with #1, and this is why. I’m 19 and I’m still a student. My job, while it works for my schedule, does not allow me to earn enough to cover all my costs at this point in time. My university is quite close to home. Yes, I apply for bursaries, and yes, I apply for scholarships to fund my own education, but residence costs are an upwards of $3500 (CDN) for four months. My bus pass is $143, and it takes me 40 minutes from home to get to school.

      So I live at home. Perhaps that’s not independent, but it was a decision that I made. It would have been a massive waste of my own resources, and I would have been looking at graduating and starting my career in debt. Debt that my parents would have had to cosign on. Graduate school, while a distant dream, would have been completely non-existent, unless I asked my parents to shell out $50,000 to $60,000 to fund that, because I would already be owing around $30,000 just because of housing costs. I would have had to go straight to work, which would have been putting my dreams on hold.

      Many, many of my friends, white or Indian, chose this option. They work for money, they fund their own degree, but they commute from home. For many parents, housing their children is a small fee compared to paying for their education. For some of us, it’s simply not feasible at this point in time to get out and never come back.

      But, most of us are much, much more independent than many of our peers who live out of home. Those people are living out of their home, while still being funded by their parents. We pay for our own education, as much as we can. We make smart decisions that save us money and time, and a lot of headache. To me, that’s the real indicator of being self-sufficient. Knowing, and understanding your own limitations and being thoughtful of how to navigate life intelligently.

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  9. Sandhya, so nice to read your positive story – your parents did a great job of raising all of you!

    With my parents, my brother and I live far away from them but my sister lives in the same town. Although they don’t live with her, she is very involved with them, takes care of their health, visits often. My brother and I contribute financially toward their support and my sister does the bulk of the physical help, as and when needed. The vice versa is also true. In their younger days, my parents were mostly involved with her family due to the physical proximity. They took care of her kids (within mutually agreed upon and reasonable terms) and were able to support her emotionally through her ups and downs. My parents and my brother-in-law (sister’s husband) share a mutually loving and respectful relationship.

    This type of arrangement works so well in many cases because the daughter’s parents traditionally do not interfere in their daughter’s life – it is considered unacceptable for them to dictate to the son-in-law. There is mutual respect between a man and his in-laws. Everyone knows their boundaries. If we were to extend this same approach to parents that live with their son’s families, (if the son’s parents could respect their d-i-l in the same way as a daughter’s parents respect their s-il ) we could have happier families.

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    • Thank you. It is the entitlement that most MILs feel about their sons and DILs. If there is mutual respect and understanding, there will be many more happier families, as you have said. But in most houses the do’s and dont’s list are applicable to the DILs. Sons are somehow exempted from the rules.

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  10. – in my case , pure motivation of myself and STRONG support from siblings ( an younger sis and bro) , though we were not RAISED that way. We picked up things along the way – Living in BOMBay and around helps tremendously. My villagey cousins did not have much leverage nor would I have had if I lived there.

    I ( along with support from my siblings ) fought all odds against my self – low grades, low self esteem, didnt have a clue what to do , but fiercely ambitious ( doesnt go together – low grades and ambition). When my neighborhood went to study medicene and engineering ( all girls and boys ) I did BA ( moved from science to arts because I was NOT a good student ) .

    Even your peers look down on you if you did Arts, My parents were ready to get me married at 20, but I put my foot down – I some how got an admission in Masters and then went to do an M.Phil from IIT Bombay.

    My mother told my father NOT to send her to the hostel, because she will talk to all the boys, but my father set, GO.
    Of course , he also wanted me to leave my job to marry some rich guy of their choice. But I had nobody in sight ( and no boy friend either ) and still said NO. …..

    Life goes on, Life came in the way and Learning new things — THOUGHTS, change, Processes –

    MORAL : BELIEVE in ALL possibilities, even when it is impossible. Life is about Walking on Water by being a co-creator with GOD.

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  11. Thanks to everyone who have appreciated the post. The purpose of this post is to spread positivity and hope. It is nice to see people sharing their own personal experiences.

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  12. My parents too were same…in fact, my mom could not fulfill her ambitions so she wanted me to fulfill them for her. She did not force me though. My dad always urged me to take up summer courses/classes rather that sit idle…
    Trying to follow their footsteps and also go beyond it.

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  13. IHM, unrelated to this post perhaps – but in the light of the ‘juvenile’ rapist being let off despite being convicted, don’t you think we should have a sex offenders registry of some sort so that we can protect our children and ourselves from monsters like him, rather than keeping his face covered?

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  14. This is how I was raised.🙂 And how well I was raised too. My parents don’t breathe word of marriage, only about career. They don’t comment on how many friends I have who are boys, so long as they don’t trouble me and are upstanding human beings and good friends.

    Like

  15. IHM, I’m sorry if this is too long a comment, feel free to delete it or do away with it, but I just have to get all this out of my system! Thanks in advance!

    You know, I was wondering until very recently why I have so much trouble adjusting to this idea of a ‘good bahu’ people seem to love talking about.

    I got married in April last year and while my marriage is proving to be a delightful journey, the wedding itself was a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, all my favourite people were there and it was simpler than most South Indian weddings. But as my husband’s extended family gathered around me, I felt every bone in my body rebel against their presence.

    I couldn’t understand what that anger inside me was. They were nice people, they didn’t hassle me for wearing a single gold chain (almost unheard of for a Malayali bride), and they didn’t give me much grief for being a non-Brahmin girl (yes people still talk about this (!). But with every fibre of my being, I felt a hot, burning anger.

    I hated the idea of a traditional wedding, but because both our parents were supportive, we did away with a lot of the ritualistic rubbish that surrounds our weddings, though for my in-laws sake we kept a lot of stuff (that any wedding can still do without). So what was I so angry about?

    To add to that, I have a good rapport with my in-laws, and I am luckier than many. But I look back at that time and the week that followed (visiting the husband’s side of the family in my saris and mangalsutra) and even now, especially when I think of the visits to follow, I only feel a (seemingly) disproportionate sense of anger. Perhaps I sound like an ungrateful wretch.

    But recently, as my parents have come to visit, I’ve realised that my unease and anger stems from a side that is completely unknown to me. A side that my parents never introduced me to while I was growing up- the perspective of the daughter-in-law. And so the things that a ‘good bahu’ would do, don’t come naturally to me.

    That doesn’t mean I’m not a good person, and that I won’t do what is necessary to do under the circumstances. But I’ve been raised to be a human being, not to fit into an outdated mould that’s been cast centuries before. I look forward to taking care of my in-laws as I would my parents, and I do understand it takes adjustment and compromise to some extent to fit into any new family.

    But there is a compelling, almost dogged sense of nagging that comes with being a daughter-in-law. My husband tells me not to worry about expectations, to just be myself. But I don’t think he gets it. Being a daughter-in-law= rising early= bathing= helping in the kitchen= wearing a mangalsutra as certified proof for society= eating after the men have eaten etc etc etc. The list is either mild or horrific, depending on what side of the spectrum you’re on. I have a wonderful mother-in-law, but I can’t get rid of this irritation that stems from having to analyse my every move before I make it.

    Also, with my parents visiting, I have a chance to observe my husband around them. He is relaxed, casual, inviting and generous to a fault. But he sleeps when he wants, wakes when he has to and never seems pressured about anything he says or does. He goes out of his way to make them comfortable, but he doesn’t seem to feel the pressure I do as a woman. This isn’t really surprising, just an observation. In fact, I find it’s me who works myself up about what he should and shouldn’t be doing.

    Perhaps I sound like a confused and petulant child here, so I apologise if I do.

    All said and done, even with all the anger, I give thanks for parents like mine who didn’t condition me to this idea of bahu-servitude. I am a funny, happy, laughing, joking mass of humanity around my folks. Around my in-laws, I am a subdued, muted version of me that sometimes even I don’t recognise.

    Is this how it’s meant to be forever? Because that is a scary, scary thought.

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    • what happens if you’re a happy, funny person around your in-laws?
      You say your husband encourages you to be yourself. HE is himself around YOUR parents as well. You say that your in-laws are perfectly nice people.
      So what exactly is the issue with them seeing the real you?

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      • Hi Sanjana,

        Thanks for responding to me.

        I’m not saying I’m not the ‘real’ me. I don’t put on a pretense around them, I just don’t feel I can say or comment on things as I usually would and as I said I am a subdued version of myself. I guess this is to be expected. I’ve observed that many in-laws expect young brides to adopt them wholeheartedly as a new family but are hesitant to explore and open their minds to their daughters-in-law’s lives and ways of doing things before marriage. Surely it ought to be a two-way street?

        I just feel that being a woman, and a daughter-in-law, I am compelled to do things in a certain way as dictated to me by societal norms- which I haven’t been trained to think about from a young age as some women are. My husband encourages to be myself, but is generally unaware of undercurrents (I don’t want to make a sweeping statement about men here but I will say that perhaps it’s just in his nature) that follow if I don’t do something the ‘right’ way.

        So while my in-laws are easy to get on with, there is still an expectation they have- about initiating me into their way of doing things etc (they are also South Indian, but more traditional than my family) and when I slip up, I feel even more pressure.

        So no, the issue is not about them seeing any one version of me. Nor is it that they are the evil vamp-like villains from the saas-bahu serials. If there is an issue, it is the disconnect and the dilemma that comes with being raised as an independent woman who finds herself beholden to the norms that come with marriage.

        This is not a complaint, just an observation.

        Like

        • A friend of mine once had a disagreement with her mother-in-law. The MIL was horrified. She was all “how dare she argue with her MIL” yada yada…
          She sulked around for a bit. When my friend noticed, she, very wisely, sat her down and talked to her openly.
          She explained to her MIL that she wants to treat her like her own mother, which includes not just loving & respecting her like her own mother, but also being open and honest like one, and that this will include not agreeing with her on everything. Sometimes, it will include arguments due to conflicting opinions.
          But that is only to be expected, as with any two people in any kind of relationship.
          The MIL was thankfully, in her core, a good person. So she understood the wisdom of my friend and since then, they have had an excellent relationship like any healthy mom-daughter would have.

          if you say your in-laws are good people, maybe you can just be yourself and see how they react. If they don’t like you for the person you are, that’s something you’ll have to deal with. But they might just surprise you and like you better for it!

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        • I agree with all you say, Sanjana.

          Quite possibly I need to let go of my own inhibitions around them, and they will in all probability accept even the open, straightforward side of me. I had come to the same conclusion some time ago, and as they do already like me very much, I guess it will be a good result. But it is still far easier said than done.

          However, I still feel an invisible pressure in the role of the daughter-in-law. The irritation I feel at being made to touch people’s feet all the time is disproportionate to the affection I get from my in-laws, so I do it without complaint. But I still hate the feeling of women in extended circles judging everything from my hair to my toes and how I react etc. I don’t speak the language of my in-laws, so that is another thing. I have been shown around the village like most new brides but for me, in spite of all the welcoming warmth, it was a nightmare. Simply because it is a way of life I cannot understand or agree with. And that is where my anger surfaces. In situations like these where nobody says you must do this but you’re certainly damned if you don’t.

          I do it because it makes my husband and my in-laws happy, and because it’s not in my nature to cause confrontation. But on a forum like this, I wonder if other people, even the lucky ones who marry into families with sound minds, feel this invisible pressure I’m talking about.

          Thanks again for your response and for sharing your friend’s experience.

          Like

      • Hi snmishra,

        I disagree. Just because I said I’m quieter doesn’t mean I’m not me. And no, I don’t see how it is betraying myself if I’m just trying to adjust to new people and circumstances-?!

        Like

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