We need to teach our daughters to know the difference between…

This advice for parents of daughters is being shared on facebook.

What do you think of this?

My response.

We need to teach our daughters to know the difference between…

IHM:  All children, daughters and sons, benefit from some information/guidelines that help them avoid being manipulated, used, hurt or abused (etc)

The advice above assumes and implies that daughters are the only ones and always the victims and sons are always the abusers. And that abuse and society is – Men versus Women.

It also indirectly implies – that parents of daughters (or the entire society?) have the responsibility of ensuring that girls do not fall in love with the ‘wrong kind of men’.

We need to teach our daughters to know the difference between…

a man who flatters her and the man who compliments her

IHM: Anybody, including women, sales people, colleagues, competitors of any kind  can flatter. And everybody would benefit from being able to see through lies of any kind, including flattery.

Criticism I think is generally equally or more harmful than flattery is. It can destroy self esteem and confidence; and create jealousy, insecurity, resentment, bitterness and endless dissatisfaction with self.

I would warn a child against criticism with the excuse of ‘attempting to improve’ them as much as against flattery.

But why are compliments such a good thing? I would rather teach a girl or a boy to like themselves and then to not care too much about the opinion of anybody else. If they compliment – maybe it simply means they have similar tastes.

Compliments are only opinions – and should not be permitted make days or break hearts. This is only possible if children are encouraged to like themselves just the way are and not care to much about log kyaa kahenge (what will people say or think).

We are less likely to need compliments or approval if we are comfortable with ourselves. This is automatically a protection from abuse by flattery or criticism.

a man who spends money on her and a man who invests in her

IHM: I didn’t quite understand this one.

Does it mean – Investing is when he plans to marry the woman and Spending is when he has no plans to marry her?

As opposed to marriage being a mutual decision.

And it is assumed that women see (and should see) Marriage as their only goal in life.

Also, I would say women should be able to earn and spend on themselves and invest for and in themselves with their own money.

a man who views her as Property and a man who views her properly

IHM: Nobody should be viewed as Property, but what does viewing someone ‘properly’ mean?  Honourably?

I wonder if women benefit from being taught to worry about whether or not they are being viewed ‘properly’?  So long women are able to live their lives the way they choose to, does it matter?

a man who lusts after her and a man who loves her

IHM: ‘Lust’ continues to be viewed as harmful perhaps because it is seen to make women impure. And ‘Love’ continues to be something men invest in and hence, maybe, are entitled to reciprocation.

I would rather talk to children about abusive and manipulative behaviour by anybody – specially those who are in positions of authority, or those who they trust, lust for or love.

I would warn them against those who seem to wish to control their personal lives, or to change or ‘improve’ them. Those who seem to want them to do something they do not want to do (or those who want them to stop doing something they love to do).

Or those who attempt to control who they talk to and what they say to them.

I would encourage them to make many friends and to see relationships – as a part of growing up and to not ever give up being themselves – specially to make someone love/befriend them.

And ofcourse, to view lust as wrong when there is coercion, or when one of the partners is either a minor or in a committed relationship.

A man who believes he is a gift to women, and a man who believes she is a gift to him

IHM: Why is okay for a man to believe a woman is a ‘gift to him’?

And it contradicts with the point above about viewing women as ‘property’ or commodity.

And then we need to teach our sons to be that kind of man.

IHM: Do sons really need to be brought up all that differently from daughters?

Related Posts:

Is it possible to insult someone who doesn’t value your opinion of them?

This 27 year old woman could not be forcibly married off or silenced or shamed.

Slut Walk: Would women be in some ways empowered if they saw no shame in what they could risk being called?

18 questions for young women (and men) of ‘marriageable age’.

What would you not change for love?

Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?

What are you criticised the most for?

Ten more ways to be better wives and daughters in law.

Marriage Advice from the 1950s that is Definitely Outdated

“One of the so-called best professor of my department … advices his students (girls) that men can be satisfied only by two things…”

Who would you never ask for advice?

Be a wife like Sita, wear a sari but don’t get abducted.

Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?

10 Things to say to everybody else, but never to a woman.

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

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

“10 years ago, the girl would have been counselled on how to change her dress sense for the boy, how to do as he says.”




35 thoughts on “We need to teach our daughters to know the difference between…

  1. I didn’t read the whole thing, these well-intentioned patriarchal advice things are too boring. But we do need to teach people the difference between “complement” and “compliment”. Then all the rest shall follow. I hate doing the spelling/grammar correct thing, but in this case, that’s all I can say about that poster.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. IHM , you wrote // “Criticism I think is generally equally or more harmful than flattery is. It can destroy self esteem and confidence……I would warn a child against criticism with the excuse of ‘attempting to improve’ them as much as against flattery.”//

    I do not think all criticisms are bad. Constructive ones do help in self improvement. If there is no criticism, the child may remain in a deluded World.


    • Some examples?

      Though I guess the idea is to attempt to show the difference between some essential (Example?)criticism and attempts to demean, manipulate or control, specially in relationships between adults.


      • I have come to believe (tell me if I am wrong) that encouragement, role models, appreciation and facilitating ‘improvement’ work, while criticism, specially-unasked-for criticism could demotivate and make the person being criticised wonder when they are right (or wrong) – thus making them lose confidence in their own judgement or assessment.

        I would like to know of some examples where unasked for criticism (or ‘commenting’) would work better than encouragement and facilitating/providing opportunities of learning/improving. And who should be the person criticising? How do we know if they know better and mean well, and are (unintentionally or not) not attempting to control? We know that even parents – who are viewed as least likely to wish harm, can not be relied upon to know better than to control/attempt to make the child someone other than who they are.


        Criticism when it is specifically asked for, is okay I guess.


      • If what person A is doing hurts person B or interferes with his/her rights, then person B ought to let person A know this. How to convey this is always a difficult thing. Person A might take this is as unfair criticism because he/she is not ready to take responsibility for own actions and may act defensive.
        Example –
        Person B, “Can you turn the music down? I’m trying to get some work done and can hear it even with my door closed.” When this happens repeatedly,
        Person B: “You always play the music too loud. That’s inconsiderate.”
        Person A: “I’m not inconsiderate. You’re too sensitive. And you’re always working. You need to draw the line.”
        Example – (turn this around, now it’s person A who ‘criticizes’ person B)
        Person A: “I’m going out for that event I told you about.”
        Person B: “What event? You can’t go out now. I need to go out and get xyz done.”
        Person A: “We discussed this last week. You were okay with it, so I made a commitment. Now, you’ve forgotten. That’s not my fault.”
        Person B: “So, you’re saying it’s my fault?”
        Person A (by now, a little upset, less careful of other one’s feelings): “Yes, actually I AM saying that.”
        In both cases, the other person is having a hard time acknowledging that they are doing/did something that makes it harder for the other person. In both cases, criticism is necessary, and even when the person criticizing is careful and not to insult or label, these situations are difficult to resolve for most people – because a lot of people find it hard to take responsibility and say “yes, what I did was inconsiderate and I now see how it’s affecting you”.
        I think it’s okay to teach kids to handle some level of positive criticism as long as it’s not the insulting/demeaning/humiliating/labeling kind.


        • //If what person A is doing hurts person B or interferes with his/her rights, then person B ought to let person A know this. // This is absolutely fine wordssetmefree, I didn’t think of this as Criticism.


  3. Basic human rights and values will remain same throughout the culture and nations. We need to teach our children irrespective of their gender to respect basic human rights and values of all humans irrespective whether they are rich,poor, women ,men,african,american,asian,black and white etc. Then all these problem which we are discussing will solve itself.

    No need to teach two different set values to boys and girls. Teaching different value set give them
    different perception for each other and gender roles. The equality in terms of treatments which we are discussing will never be achieved if we teach different human rights and values.

    For this we need to rise above greatness of our culture or goodness of western culture and starting viewing them from point of human rights.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think all we really need to do is bring up our children as ‘people’ and not as ‘boys/men’ and ‘girls/women’, and encourage them how to look at others also as ‘people’ regardless of their sex.
    It is because we bring in that distinction at an early age that we have so many prevalent gender issues.

    And wrt teaching them about safety, sexual or otherwise, the rules are pretty much the same for all of us. Know when to shout for help, know a good touch from a bad touch, do not eat something a stranger gives you, etc.

    And to the meme doing the rounds, I say: what a steaming hot load of crap.


  5. I agree with you IHM. More patriarchy, more bullshit. We need to teach our boys AND girls to view one another like human beings, and treat one another like human beings, oh, and respect themselves and not get bothered by what people say!


  6. Well being an Online content professional myself I can tell you IHM most of these how tos, dos and don’t s lists are created by amateur content writers for directing just a few hundred mindless clicks and traffic to particular pages etc. on social media. So frankly I don’t take them seriously, no body should.


    • I shared this on my fb page, expecting criticism – and got a message from Facebook that the post generated 80% more Likes or hits than otherwise, and asking if I wanted to pay to Boost the Page (something amounting to that). What made so many people like this?


      • “What made so many people like this?”
        Because so many people think that women are lucky when they are treated like princesses protected/cushioned from problems by knights in shining armor (husbands/boyfriends). It never occurs to them that girls can be taught self-reliance and self esteem. That both people in a relationship can look out for each other. That putting someone on a pedestal and worshiping/protecting/cushioning them doesn’t do anyone any good.
        You were right to highlight this.
        These cliches actually a window into how we think (or the majority thinks) and it’s good to question these thoughtless forwards because it gets at least some people thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I expect it is because people spend 10 seconds browsing that kind of stuff and click “like” because it is vaguely positive and very sugary.


    • So true ! Facebook likes are worst indicators of anything ! People randomly click like to anything populist, sugary ,sentimental crap !nowadays ,people are getting paid to go clickety click ! These chain msgs are not to be taken seriously at all !


  7. This was a good way of unraveling annoying faux-feminist material (eg, ‘a man who views her as property, and a man who views her properly’).

    This sort of stuff seems to be cropping up everywhere. Sneaky sneaky.


  8. I wish to know how to teach children how to respect themselves ,.…is it even possible ? As children grow up ,they are faced with relentless messages from media,then social media ,peers,bosses and of course parents!
    I have faced more criticism – unasked, unwanted from relatives,bosses ,colleagues and frankly criticisms has never made me feel motivated or even enlightened ! But over the years, I find that it makes me defensive, and erodes my self esteem! Criticism I faced for being a imperfect woman has always made me feel bad about myself !
    In my case, my parents are least critical, so outsiders wounded me more than anyone else !
    So,yeah is it possible to teach children to respect themselves without turning them smug,critical of others or even preachy,superiority complex !
    Does self reflection ,self regulation go hand in hand with an even self esteem ?


    • How to teach children to respect themselves?
      Give them opportunities to –
      – figure out what they really want/like and be neutrally interested about their choices (So, you like the blue sweater, huh. Wow, you’re so excited about the soccer match!)
      – stand up for what they believe in (Why don’t you write a letter to the mayor asking for more park space in the city? Why don’t you schedule a meeting with your principal to discuss the bike parking policy that you disagree with?)
      – say no to friends, to relatives, and to you (when their decision not to do something doesn’t affect other people’s rights)
      – recover from failure (you tried something and it didn’t work, so you learnt something about who you are and what you want)
      – free themselves from labels (you don’t have to believe what others call you, you can choose who you want to be)
      – feel good about being unique (I love the way you tell stories! Your singing is so joyful, it makes me smile:-)
      I think the language we use with them and the actions we take can infuse self esteem in children. Once they feel good about themselves, they are more likely to treat others well.


      • I think self esteem grows when you make things with your own hands, when you learn by experience.

        And I think having doubts about oneself is not necessarily a bad thing, because it is an encouragement to get better – whereas people who think only positively about themselves may stay stuck where they are…


        • But Victoria – what is ‘getting better’? Say, getting better at some skills? What if one is not talented and is not able to do much more than improve with practice? Or not even that – one lacks the will power to improve (or get better) – say a laid back kind of person, content to spend their life watching TV and reading fiction – and not interested in improving at all – should they have a low self esteem? Should they be expected to tolerate others who are ‘better’, telling them what they should be doing or how they can improve?

          I think the very idea of self esteem is that it does not, need not, depend on how good (or better, or best) we are. Of being comfortable in ourselves, just the way we are (if that’s the way it is).
          I think self confidence and self esteem would involve liking oneself irrespective of how good, better, or not good one is.

          It’s the same as, I think, having fundamental or human rights – no matter how rich, poor, talented, lazy, competitive, satisfied, complaining, old, young, rich, poor, strong, weak etc one is – one is Equal.

          What do you think?


        • @ihm
          Even if A is lazy and he likes himself,wades through life,there will be always be someone picking up behind him e.g parents,or wife/husband !
          What good is that kind of smugness ? Because at the end of the day,we are social beings ! I kind of agree with Victoria ,that why I believe healthy self esteem is rare ,rather self esteem keeps changing depending on how good one gets as life goes on.And also there is basic level of feel good that most people have !
          Bosses ,parents get the freedom to criticise as part of their job profile,…it comes under improvement !But most bosses and parents are so harsh in their criticism that its either ignored by strong and harms the weak !
          Does it really help ? Maybe a margin !
          Teaching children to respect their own opinions all the freaking time is placing a sword in their hands !
          That’s why I wondered if its even possible to bring up well to do,well mannered children without criticism as the real world runs on competition, brusque ness,nepotism, energy and constant comparisons !


        • Criticism where others are affected is fair ofcourse – so those who have to pick after some one have no choice but to ‘criticise’.

          Is it okay for self esteem to depend on how ‘good’ one is at something? Do you think just being valued and loved, no matter how imperfect one is, is more likely to build a healthy self esteem?

          I feel adults who grow up without being compared to their ‘betters’ are likely to want to learn and grow for the natural and wholesome joy of learning and growing, not for beating someone who they probably resent or are jealous of.


    • I think one is more likely to be smug when they are compared to others and made to feel they are better than others (implying they can only be good in comparison of others and not as their own selves) Otherwise in general if children are not criticised and allowed to be themselves and if there is no comparison, maybe they will not be on defensive, not feel resentful and hopefully not be smug either… though some amount of smugness should be okay? … so long there is basic thoughtfulness and an understanding of “Do unto others what you expect them to do to you.” No?

      I am trying to understand if criticism helps raise adults who are happier, more at peace with themselves and less in competition with everybody they meet or hear about.

      Also, I know of many adults who are bitter because they were criticised for things they could not really change – like what they liked to eat, or for their preference for staying up late, or for the way they walked, laughed, enjoyed etc.

      … just sharing some random thoughts.


      • I agree comparison never helps. It becomes a moving target, something the child can never attain, leaving him/her confused/frustrated. Today parents want Nitin to be a brilliant student like Ravi, tomorrow he has to get married and have kids like Shyam. It never ends. And in the meantime, little Nitin who’s the one being subject to comparisons doesn’t know anymore who he is, and what he wanted out of life in the first place. He makes his plans by looking at other people’s plans and wonders why he can never be happy. The other scenario is Nitin could completely give up working hard because he thinks, “What’s the point? I’ll never be a Ravi.” Not knowing he could be happy/successful/whatever he desires by sticking to being Nitin.


        • I agree. And comparing is used very commonly to ‘motivate children to work hard and succeed’ both by their own parents and by teachers.

          Adults are compared too. Sometimes the comparisons make no sense, like when fathers say they used to do without certain things so the children should be able to to the same. I think most people compare without thinking about it and don’t realise how much harm it does. 😦


        • I really think there is nothing wrong in previous generations telling the younger generation how they did without it !! That argument is valid because one doesn’t really need much for a basic life without added frills ! Even with internet,costly smartphone s are not need they are added frills, most people do not need them 24/7 .
          While values like working hard,studying, walking for few kms to reach the school are fine,playing outdoor games instead of cooped up at home with video games are still good!
          With the economic boom Indian parents are now giving everything to children on platter ,then are complaining about childhood obesity, adult obesity,no value of money ,unresponsive children !
          We have more hi fi schools which look like 5star hotels than cycle tracks ? Parents are paying through their nose just to keep up the social status for such schools !


        • Also though comparisons don’t help,they can’t be avoided ! Even adults keep comparing themselves to others: car check,bigger house check,bigger salary check,more contacts check so on and so forth.
          Only when one has what he or she wants or needs does comparisons lessen with others !


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