“According to my mom, friendship with guys should always be limited to academics, nothing personal.”

Sharing an email. Parents who permit any communication (not friendship) with guys would be considered liberal by many.

What fears and insecurities make Indian parents (and society) forbid their children from interacting with the ‘opposite sex’?  

Some possible fears could be  – ‘love marriages’, ‘date rapes’, MMS videos (this one from a coed school principal who didn’t want boys and girls to sit ‘next to each other in class’ or ‘talk to each other after class’), ‘what will people say’, teenage pregnancies, or simply the children ‘going out of hand’.

What do you think are the current methods achieving? 

Hey IHM,

I have been following your blog from the past 4 years. And very unfortunately, the way I got to know about your blog was through an eulogy to Tejaswee in another blog. I wept aunty, for TJ and I even dedicated a post to her on my blog. And I hope that you don’t mind my calling you aunty🙂 Somehow, your blog posts always found resonance with my way of thinking.
I turned 21 a few days ago. I am going to finish my graduation in a couple of months. I was brought up as any other girl of Indian society. I had guy friends from school but my parents didn’t see my friendship anything more than mere acquaintance with my classmates. I am still good friends with 2-3 guys from my school. I along with my mom came to live in a cosmopolitan city for my graduation. After joining college, I became good friends with my seniors. But I was hesitant of telling my mom about my closeness with them.
I had a reason. My sister, who is more mature than me always bore the brunt for being friends with guys and for hanging out with them. Indeed going out with a guy, even in a group, was thought to be a taboo. None in our family ever dared to be open with their friendships with people from opposite gender. So it came quite as a shock to my mom when she found out that my sis went out to meet her lone guy friend, alone! There was a hullabaloo in my home on that day. My father was at least a bit better, he said that if it all she wants to meet a guy friend, she could meet him at our home. But mom opposed that, too.
According to her, friendship with guys should always be limited to academics, nothing personal. My sister, who was a rebel by nature always argued with my mom regarding this but in vain. Luckily, she stayed away from us so she hardly informed my mom whenever she had to go with a group consisting of guys. But I wasn’t so lucky.
So, I became cautious of what my acts would lead to. I had to learn lessons from my sister. Because I couldn’t afford to lose my friends nor want to earn wrath from my mom. I would text my friends when my mom was not around. I would meet my seniors (cuz they left college) at local eat-outs taking care of the timing and probability of any acquaintance of mine finding me with a guy( or guys).
But whenever I had to go out to meet them at other places, I had to wear a scarf. I was scared of getting caught, of being seen with guys. I know that I had nothing to hide from the world. But I was scared of being judged by the society. People ask us why girls wear scarfs? Is it to hide their faces when they roam with guys? Hiding means that they are doing something wrong, blah blah. I have an answer for them-
“Yes, I wear scarfs while meeting my guy friends. Because I hate when people look at me, find me with a guy and think that he is my boyfriend or that I sleep around with him. People’s judgementality makes us hide our faces despite whatever we do is not wrong.”
But, I am sick and tired of this drama. Because I don’t want to hide from my parents or tell them lies when I have to meet a friend. Come on, a friend is a friend irrespective of its gender. Then why the heck is my mom so insecure?
She feels that none in our apartment brings friends of opposite genders to their homes nor do they hang-out with them and that friendship at personal level with guys is totally unnecessary.
It fills fear, rage, frustration and hopelessness in me. For long I have been trying to tell my mom how things are not the way she thinks is; how “log kya kahenge” attitude would take her no where. I understand the fact that she came from a small-town and that her attitude is entirely influenced by it. But, things have to change, don’t they?
Because, shortly after graduation, I have to join an MNC which will make me work till late in night, hangout in groups which will have guys in it, for sure. If this is how she’s gonna remain, I am sure, there will be a lot of hue and cry from my mom due to my behaviour and changed habits.
I always fancied living far away from home, where none knew me, where I could go out on my own, make friends with people, chat up, bring up conversation, make my home, take care of myself like a responsible adult. Whenever there’s a conflict between my mom’s ideas and mine, I felt like doing this forever, go away permanently. I know, a few call this the chagrin rush in youth but come on, I don’t want to lie to my mom anymore nor do I want her to be hurt.
I want to live a life, a real life where there is no deception, no hide-n-seek between truth and reality, where I can go out to meet my friends freely without a veil hiding my face, where I can happily pillion-ride on my guy friends’ bike without fearing people getting judgemental about me. Can’t this happen ever in my youth? Can’t our society stop being judgemental about people going on roads wearing a mini-skirt, sleeveless top on a guy’s bike, meeting up guys and all?
I brought in the society thing because I know, majority of Indian parents are more society and God fearing than their children-loving -_- I want society to change. Only then can my mom or any other girl’s mom with similar ideology would burst the cocoon they built around themselves and come to terms with reality, practicality and freedom of living.
I grew up with my own idea of life. I am intelligent, I love studying and I love reading books! They bring me in contact with the real world. Is it wrong if I dream of spending a few days in my life in New York all alone? Date a guy? Or get into one of the premier institutes, fall in love with a guy irrespective of his identity? Wishing to spend my life with him, working on a job I love with no pressure either  from my in-law or my own family asking me to stay at home, helping them with their house-hold chores, taking care of babies? Of living a real ‘liberated’ life? Am I at fault for all these thoughts?
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42 thoughts on ““According to my mom, friendship with guys should always be limited to academics, nothing personal.”

  1. I wish parents would understand that such kind of restrictions would make their kids more vulnerable to being exploited. I made it a point to inform my parents where I was going and with whom. There were times when they were not so pleased with my choice of friends or place. But alteast they knew. I could have reached out to them if there was a crisis. I believe that if your friends/people you are out with know that your parents or someone responsible at home is aware of your whereabouts, it keeps trouble at bay to a large extent..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think what makes these “never talk to boys EVER” type of parent-control methods absolutely idiotic is that further down the line, they are supplemented with “This is the boy you are going to get married to. Say hi. The marriage is in two months. Now go make us all some coffee.”

    Some how the “indian parenting manual for raising girls” focuses on absurdities like complete control over all matters ranging from color of first bra to whether she should do PHD , seggregation from the opposite sex till marriage & infantilization.
    Sensible things like being open about sex, teaching her self defense, teaching her to be practical about love & sex, encouraging her to gradually make decisions on her own (and accept the consequences) are regarded as “western” and therefore bad.

    And LW,

    “Whenever there’s a conflict between my mom’s ideas and mine, I felt like doing this forever, go away permanently. I know, a few call this the chagrin rush in youth but come on, I don’t want to lie to my mom anymore nor do I want her to be hurt.”

    You’re definitely not alone in feeling this, I think it is likely that you will have several conflicts with your mom as time goes on. But I also think it is possible (although rare) for people to agree to disagree and still maintain a good relationship – but this needs work from both sides.

    Like

  3. 🙂 To an extent, i could relate to your situation. I was somewhere in between your sister and you.
    Most of my school mates parents are friends with mine and so i never faced this problem while meeting them or hanging out with them as we almost grew up together. But the problem started once i started going to college.
    I don’t know how they would have reacted, but i myself did the hiding thing from parents. They are liberal but only up-to an extent. I am sure they wouldn’t approve my friendships or relationships. And i managed to keep my life a secret to them. But it is not easy when you love your parents and if you start feeling guilty for hiding things from them. It was too much pressure and i did made some stupid decisions in the process as well.
    But the good part came later. It was after college. I got a job in an MNC and i moved to the city to live alone in some PG house and then started meeting people, made friends and was having fun.
    And during this time, my relation with my parents changed a bit as they started considering me as the adult and values my choice of decisions be it related to career or life. And this change, made me more confident which helped me share my mind with mum. I just took care not to reveal everything but only bits of my life. Though slowly, i let her know how i wanted to live my life and how i have been living and about my equations with my friends, both male and female. Very recently, when my best friend got married, my mum invited my other best friend, a guy to stay at our place for the whole wedding period. I was actually surprised that my mum changed so much. True it is that people change. I think the change is because of me trusting her and opening up to her and she started looking me as an adult and started to trust me and treat me like an adult but not as a kid. Now, She is a happy person as i have been sharing things with her and i am happy that my parents are a part of my life in a true way.
    Even now, i hide a few things from my parents only to save them from having heart attacks due to my life style.:) But that’s totally okay. You need not share everything with everyone. It is okay to have secrets for yourself. Do not feel guilty as it is not hiding things from anyone. It is called being an adult and behaving like one.
    When it comes to the questions like being able to be in a way we want and to not hide anything from anyone or to not hide behind scarves and all, we all have our situations in life. Most of them depend on the kind of society we were in, or the kind of parents and friends we have. But that doesn’t or need not have an impact on our dreams, thoughts, or wishes. So, don’t let others bother you and don’t over think and complicate things more than they are. As i can see, you have a wonderful thought process and concern for the people around you. The only danger is that in the process of caring for others you might end up taking decisions that may not be acceptable to you. Be careful not to do so. My advice would be to get out of the country and live the life you wanted to. I am sure one day, your parents would understand.
    Sorry for the long reply.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh boy ! How I relate to your fantasy about life !
    At 21, I dreamt of dating,independent living (read : without rok- tok),working ,doing my own thing ,falling in love etc etc !Then life happened !!
    Well,hate to burst your bubble- life will get only more complicated as you become older !
    If you choose, life will be about responsibilities !
    Hiding behind the scarf and talking / or not talking with boys, will not be even your immediate concern !
    Give a break to your mom ! Talk without scarves with boys and see whether they are really interested in you or just doing time pass !
    If you want to do timepass with boys,figure out your priorities first and then do if you want to ! In India,boys your age don’t really understand ‘dating’ at least not the middle class !
    A few years of working for money,living alone in India without any help from mom and dad,doing your own chores will sort the rest of the realities for you !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh boy! Please come to reality.

      At 21, people can be responsible who wants to live life independently at their own, do their own things etc etc. yes in this very life around us at age of 21. So absurd na. But then society happened.Why the one is trying to learn to be independent and responsible. How we can allow that?

      There is no If. I have chosen life thats why I took birth. Life is certainly about responsibility by making independent decisions at my own. Holding responsibility for my own decisions. I am not asking to make the things right if I have taken wrong decision. I simply want your i.e parents emotional support.

      Scarf is not a permanent hiding. Its not for boys but for the one who have no better work than judging me. I know what a want and I will make others know that what i want from them.

      What I want is most important for me. Why I have to care that boy is doing a time pass or serious about me. I will define clear lines with my friends. Boys are no different from me. They also come from middle class.They too understand what is dating and flirting. But alas life happened and nobody held them accountable in any situation.

      For many years , many people especially women are doing entire chore on their own even when they were younger to me. But alas life happened and they were married before they become independent. They are working 24*7 without any money and mental support.

      But alas life happened to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Another thing,people on this forum talk from what kind of lives they have led,their socioeconomic status etc but that doesn’t mean their advice is going to work for you ! Rebellion is good,even necessary but not all the time !
        You need to see how much gumption you have,if you rebel against parents all the time ,….do you make enough to support yourself ? Can you live isolated ,all alone without support from parents ??
        In India,parents are still main support not friends !!! Friends are not going to keep you in their house for a long time even if its required !!
        I still remember ,….when my classmate ran away at 17 ,got married, fought with her parents and refused to listen to her parents ! It was her friends who encouraged, instigated her to do that !
        But year later,when she was beaten and thrown out pregnant it was her parents who came to her aide and are bringing up her child and she is staying with her parents still ! It was her parents who paid the guy to divorce her when he blackmailed for money !!
        Now she is still paying for that mistake, she is responsible and working hard now but what’s the use ! None of her friends helped her !!
        I don’t thinking fighting with parents for stupid things which don’t necessarily improve the big picture of your life is very smart !!

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        • Its not always about rebellion or my way highway. And I can also give examples about successful rebellions. The point here is when people are in position to change situation around them but still keep mum and become a successful example.

          The person said that she is being hired by MNC and is frustrated because she is been forced to live a double life. This person is in a position to take a stand for what she feels. She can support herself financially.

          During our job we meet so many guys and hangout with them. It doesn’t mean anything . It is not at all platonic. Its simple friendship in workplace and college which you do for chit chat talks and going around. No meaning at all. Why we think that every interaction with guys will lead to affairs.

          And why you thought it is not a part of big picture. Every time you do something which is normal carries a guilt that you are cheating on parents. Which is wrong and leads to stress.

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        • Tulika,
          If you read again, I said sometimes rebellion is good even necessary but that has to be decided by the person herself ! But rebellion doesn’t guarantee you will get what you want all the time ! Everytime!!

          Like

    • This is totally ridiculous. You’re actually chiding the LW for wanting a life without deceit. Of course responsibilities increase but that’s the joy in growing up. I moved away from home at 20. I dreamt of independent living, dating etc too and managed to make it all happen. I’ve been married to the love of my life for 4.5 years now.

      It’s now been 8 years since I moved away from home and I recently had a baby. So talk to me about responsibilities increasing. Is it tiring? Oh yeah! But is the independence worth it? Heck yeah! There is something to be said for being the queen of your own life and making your own decisions. You make that sound like a harsh and bad thing. It’s not!

      Why should any boys she talk to have any interest in her that’s not similar to the kind her female friends do? Are you saying that platonic relationships between people of the opposite gender is not possible?

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      • Krith,
        No platonic friendship s with boys are possible but for that one doesn’t think so much about what others/or mom says nor do people hide behind scarves for that !
        Secondly, all I wanted to say is not to over think so much ! At 21 , I understand girls and boys are fighting for all rights but at 21 the same girls and boys who have lived a protected lives have no idea how life actually is !
        You seem to have great life ,….you seem to have it all ! But there are many who don’t ! For some a few wrong decisions at 21, and if you are dead unlucky ,you’ll be paying for it for the rest of your life !
        I have never got what I worked for and what I dreamt about,….so yes its not like you rebel and you will end up with exactly what you want ! And I never had to rebel for how I want to live yet inspite of that nothing worked out as I had wished for !!
        Having said that,I have learned a lot and somehow maintained a semblance of a life that works right now !

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        • That’s utter nonsense. She is not hiding behind scarves or thinking so much because of what kind of relationship she has with the boys, but because her parents would not accept any kind of relationship AT ALL. Please don’t victim blame.

          Wrong decisions at 21 can also include not fighting for your freedom and end up in the well-organised rut that is Indian society, lose your will to fight, and become a subservient slave to the system.

          I am sorry things have not worked out for you, but that does not mean others should stop trying and just give up because it might not work out for them either. That’s just defeatist talk.

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        • Fem,
          I admit its a bit of cynical thinking ! But somehow I cannot advocate blind rebellion against parents especially if you are eating their food and living and studying on their money !! Especially over small things which do not make any difference to one’s overall life !
          Start earning ,do your chores and if they still treat you like infants or do not consider your feelings then you can talk,argue etc with them !

          Like

      • Krith,
        No platonic friendship s with boys are possible but for that one doesn’t think so much about what others/or mom says nor do people hide behind scarves for that !
        Secondly, all I wanted to say is not to over think so much ! At 21 , I understand girls and boys are fighting for all rights but at 21 the same girls and boys who have lived a protected lives have no idea how life actually is !
        You seem to have great life ,….you seem to have it all ! But there are many who don’t ! For some a few wrong decisions at 21, and if you are dead unlucky ,you’ll be paying for it for the rest of your life !
        I have never got what I worked for and what I dreamt about,….so yes its not like you rebel and you will end up with exactly what you want ! And I never had to rebel for how I want to live yet inspite of that nothing worked out as I had wished for !!
        Having said that,I have learned a lot and somehow maintained a semblance of a life that works right now !

        Like

  5. I thought it became much better for the next generation. But the LW proves me wrong. Why can’t parents try and speak up with their children. Why can’t they be more receptive. Hiding girls under their wings cannot protect them. Instead it’ll only make the child less confident and rebellious. The best thing to do for the parents is to have an open communication with their children. The LW too will have to speak up for herself and make them understand why it is not a sin to have friends of opposite gender. Staying away I do not believe is a solution to this problem.

    Like

  6. Typical…is the word that comes to mind when I read this blog post. This is soooo utterly common and prevalent in India. And the system just reinforces it – teachers will frown and brand you as “fast”/bad student if they see you talking to the opposite sex. Neighbors will whisper and some relatives will be mean enough to pass snide remarks just to make themselves and their parenting ways appear superior. In smaller cities, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a girl not to get many marriage proposals because she’s become ‘the talk of the town’. The whole system is built like that, not just the parents. To a large degree, parents’ concern is to avoid things like ‘love marriages’ or teen pregnancies, but to a larger degree, it is due to the ultimate concern of everyone in an Indian society – “what will people think?”. It’s amazing how many life choices are made on the basis on that one question alone.
    As for the LW, wait till you’ve graduated/moved out and then you can make your own choices more freely. And sometimes, you can’t change the way your parents think. It’s OK if your mom and you don’t see eye-to-eye in this regard. Do your bit to try and explain, if she doesn’t change, it’s still OK. She’s got her views, and you’ve got yours. Leave it at that.

    Like

  7. I see your point. A suffocated existence like this is, certainly, not what a human being should have to put up with. Once you achieve self-dependence, you can exercise your choice and live life the way you want and then don’t let anyone force you into a lifestyle which fits, not yours, but their idea of “good”. The most prominent tool of control is emotional blackmail, so be wary of it. All the best !

    “I want society to change. Only then can my mom or any other girl’s mom with similar ideology would burst the cocoon they built around themselves and come to terms with reality, practicality and freedom of living.”

    People who have built these cocoons around themselves are also part of the society which needs to change.

    Like

  8. IHM,

    I have been reading your blog and have come across a strong negative tone as far as arranged marriages are concerned. I always used to wonder why because I had an arranged marriage and infact everyone in my entire family have had arranged marriages and all these marriages basically happened because we the people who got married wanted it no other way. Today after reading this mail from the LW I understand why young people today despise arranged marriages.
    But my question is that neither are those love marriages a success as well and I think that basically girls like this LW in order to escape the controlled environment at home go ahead and based on some mush thoughts about love get married to their partners which basically after reading all the posts on your blog sounds like moving from the frying pan onto the stove.
    I mean from one controlled environment basically they are moving to an even more horrible environment.
    All this can be avoided if parents instead of being task masters take on a friendly approach and sit and talk to their children. Tell them about the pros and cons of a relationship and talk to them about what a marriage and love really are all about. But in a country like India where parents themselves are so not sure about what constitutes a marriage, what can they tell their children.
    I was fortunate to be born in a family where my parents were always open. I don’t know if it’s the comfort level they provided or what but I told them everything about my life and they always advised me where it was needed otherwise they really never interfered. Which is why when I was in a relationship (before I got married the arranged marriage way) I told my parents about it. They met the guy and spoke to his family and then my parents sat down with me and explained to me why they thought it will not work out. My parents listed out certain observations and honestly in my love struck state I had overlooked them and to my horror when I asked my ex-bf and sought his opinion I understood that on the most important things we did not see eye to eye. His family wanted dowry, me and my family were against it, his family wanted me to dress in a certain manner after wedding etc. And the guy thought that all this was normal and finally I had to call it off. Then when my parents started “looking” it was so different. My parents thought more about my fitment and compatibility with the person than even I could think off. My father spoke to my now husband and even I spoke to him for many days and then we decided to take it ahead.
    I think if parents become free and discuss things a lot of issues can be sorted out ahead of time and spare a lot of trouble.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think you are very lucky to have parents who think about compatibility and understand you better than you understand yourself.
      On the other side there are tons of couples with rock solid relationships who face opposition from their parents because the parents think they know better.

      Also, I’d like to point that not everyone falls in love in the way you did – ignoring realities and not even discussing basic issues. I’m not making fun of you, Im just saying that a skewed picture of love and relationships affects a lot of people
      There are many adults capable of making rational decisions about love without help from anyone.

      But I have to agree with you – It would save a lot of trouble if everyone talked about these things early on. Also,parents must learn to respect their offsprind’s views,likes and dislikes.

      As for why people dislike arranged marriages:

      1. Dumb decisions are made in both the love marriage & arranged marriage contexts. Atleast in love marriages,the basic attraction is taken care of, even if other nitty-gritties are forgotten.
      In arranged marriages there is a fear of “omg she is 26,she wont be viable in another 2 years.” This leads to a lot of rushed decisions and “figure-it-out-later” situations.

      2. The love marriage offers the clear thinking person the opportunity to really understand their partner and test their relationship. The arranged marriage however, does not let the main parties involved talk or interact beyond a certain period of time. Decisions are made in 3 weeks and in very rare cases – in 6 months. The philosophy is “get married first, think about compatibility later”.

      3.The arranged marriage always involves several people in the decision making process due to which the decision is less likely to based on compatibility and more on each person’s dictats. The mom wants a daughter-in-law who will clean. The father wants a son-in-law who earns in dollars. Granny wants them to follow some stupid tradition that even she doesnt understand.

      4. It is a hundred times easier to pretend to be someone you are not in the arranged marriage context as compared to a love marriage. The arranged marriage is basically like an extended job interview. The eyewash is heavy.
      In a love marriage, typically if you keep your eyes open you can spot red flags early on.

      5.Lastly, just look at the names – love marriage and arranged marriage.
      Why on earth would you want to marry someone if you’re not in love with them?
      And when I say “love” I’m not just talking about the gooey,heady feelings of romance. Im talking about trust, friendship and a deep affection for each other.
      Yes, you may eventually learn to love someone you married. But why do we celebrate doing things backwards?

      I think there is one crucial factor that is ignored in marriages : time.
      It takes a significant amount of time to know someone, like them, fight with them,
      bond, figure out non-negotiables and finally trust them enough to call them family. Marriage is not step 10, but it certainly is not Step 1 either.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, unfortunately even in the west where there is no concept of arranged marriages women get stuck in abusive relationships and this is not my observation but we have statistics that show that quite a few women have or are in abusive relationships.
        And also if you look at the sheer number of mails that IHM has published you will find that all the girls have one common thing running – “Initially all looked good and then later things turn sour” or “There were red flags that I ignored”…
        Also is the fact that even in love marriages there are people who have given dowry, have followed every custom to the T and tried doing everything possible under the sun…And all these letters I think are written by adults who have dated for considerable time…So my point was that when a person is in love, there is always a possibility of overlooking things or living in denial but if parents act as a support system and try to talk to their children in a rational manner these problems can be averted. A lot of times it happens that when you observe a situation as a third person without your emotions being invested into it, a lot of things come out which when a person is in the relationship will not be able to see and even if they see do not want to accept them as they are in “love”…
        Be it any marriage or relationship, parents can really be a huge strength and a great support system if they show maturity and then we will not have so many cases of horror. And all said and done, the end of the day we are humans and we need support no matter how independent we are. In times of crisis all of us would want someone whom we can cry our hearts out and who better than our own parents provided they are mature and understanding.

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        • 1. Sadly it is often the parents who refuse to see the red flags.
          2. Instead of seeing what’s plain to see – they believe what they have been told – that it’s okay to give up freedoms and happiness to ‘earn’ approval (of the people the parents want to please), or to fit in or to ‘adjust’. They also continue to attempt to believe that dowry, obedient male children, rituals and gifts can somehow create happiness.
          3. And worst, they don’t seem to see life after one ‘mistake’ or ‘consequence’ (specially for women). The consequence could be anything – a love marriage, a break up, a separation, a divorce, the neighbours’ learning that a girl went out with a boy, the a changing of mind about careers…

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        • You are assuming that parents are wise, seasoned, objective well-wishers.

          In many cases, parents are interested parties and have a hidden agenda. In other cases, they are equally incapable of spotting red flags and danger signals.

          While parental input is valuable, it is not infallible and omniscient.

          My biggest grudge with the Indian system is that the relationship is considered more important than the individuals in it.

          Our blind and stubborn insistence on refusing to acknowledge failure is catastrophic in many cases.

          I am on Quora. Last week, a young woman wrote in about her failed marriage. A few months before the wedding, she’d grown increasingly concerned about her fiancé’s erratic behaviour and had been inclined to call off the wedding.

          She didn’t, fearing that a broken engagement would bring dishonour to her parents.

          She married the man and was bewildered when he made no attempt to consummate the marriage.

          A week later, she woke up at 3am to find two strange men im her bedroom, tugging at her blanket.

          She fought back and locked herself in the bedroom. She had the presence of mind to call her family.

          It turns out that her husband had a serious drinking and gambling problem.

          One night before their wedding, in a drunken haze, he’d bet her virginity for Rs 2.5 lakhs.

          The two men were his creditors and had come to “claim” their winning.

          This was an arranged marriage. The woman was under pressure not to break the engagement because the fiance was a highly paid software engineer.

          Shouldn’t the parents in this instance have encouraged the daughter to confess her misgivings?

          The parents were so deeply invested in getting the daughter off their hands that they chose to not delve too deeply into the man’s antecedents.

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        • There is a difference between having your parents involved in your life and having them make decisions for you.
          Asking them for their opinion, listening to their comments and evaluating them so that you can make an adult decision on your relationship is okay.
          But asking them to find you a mate like you’re some 3rd standard kid at the mall who cant decide what clothes you should buy is regressive.We’re not in the stone age anymore. There are ample opportunities to meet people and interact.

          I can (somewhat)understand why some women today may want their parents to introduce them to potential partners- most men dont like women making the first move + there’s always the extra complications of sexual assault . But to then say that you cannot make a decision without your parents’ advice shows that you simply are not ready for a major commitment.

          I simply cannot understand why any rational thinking MAN would opt for this – unless he’s socially awkward or simply wants a “traditional wife” who will do whatever his family says.

          Yes, love marriages can also end badly, but so can any friendship,business deal or any sort of relationship with people.It’s the real world. But do we ask our parents to introduce us to friends? Come to work for job interviews?
          Also, look at the unfair burden it puts on them. After raising a kid for 20 years , society expects them to find their adult children a mate as well.
          Being an adult does not simply mean getting married and doing “adult” things.
          It means making your decisions, it means learning to trust your gut, it means accepting the possibility that you might make a mistake and learning how to minimize that possibility and also how to recover from it.

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        • Hi Neha,

          Thank you for your comment.
          I did not assume parents to be responsible. I said “If parents are mature and understanding” then a lot of problems can be averted and sadly like IHM said parents are not like that in a lot of cases. So my only point has been that parents should become understanding and mature and provide a sense of security to children rather than creating pain.
          I agree with you that seldom do parents think about anything other than washing off their responsibility.
          But what I don’t agree with is that love marriage is the only solution. Arranged or love, both the parents and the children involved should be mature enough and understand the consequences of their actions.
          Ultimately I have in my life learnt two most important things so far:
          1. With great freedom comes even greater responsibility
          2. The whole world will give us advice on what to do, how to cope and how to deal with things but ultimately it is “I” who has to put my neck above the s***t. So it is also “I” who has to keep in mind the consequences of my actions and be able to take ownership and responsibility.
          As long as anyone be it parents or children fail to understand the above points no amount of freedom and independence or love can do anything.

          Like

        • ‘With great freedom comes even greater responsibility’

          And what happens if there is no freedom? Who has the ability to take all the responsibility then? Those who threaten to take away the freedom?

          What about the responsibility that each one of has to protect our freedom from those who believe that freedom is a privilege granted in return of obedience and following the (And their) rules?

          Freedom means – the freedom to learn, to make mistakes and to disagree, to ignore well meant advice, to do as one would.

          Here’s a related post.

          Why do we hear concerned voices about ‘misuse of freedom’ the moment we talk about Freedom?
          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/why-do-we-hear-concerned-voices-about-misuse-of-freedom-the-moment-we-talk-about-freedom/

          And another one,

          Are u ok if ur daughter smokes at 24yrs to express herself? Freedom of expression is quite quite difficult to practice.

          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/tag/2011/06/10/are-u-ok-if-ur-daughter-smokes-at-24yrs-to-express-herself-freedom-of-expression-is-quite-quite-difficult-to-practice/

          Liked by 1 person

  9. There is thin line between freedom and responsibility.Parents are scared of social,emotional and physical consequences if the girl can not handle the freedom responsibly. That is why they constrain them.The best way of removing this fear is to earn your freedom by earning their trust.
    The more you rebel and they know the more they lose trust.
    Also , men should respect women that training has to start at a young age for boys.If the house is dirty we don’t need to burn it.But pickup the broom and clean it.

    Like

    • 1. “Parents are scared of social,emotional and physical consequences if the girl can not handle the freedom responsibly.”

      And what if the parents and society did not have the option of controlling their girl children’s freedoms? What would they have done to make sure the ‘consequences’ are not everything in, and the end of a girl’s life?

      How does the rest of the world ‘handle’ their freedoms? What do you think is the worst thing that mishandling of freedom can do to a girl? How best can that be dealt with?

      2. ‘Also , men should respect women that training has to start at a young age for boys.’

      Not just men, everybody – including the family elders should respect women and girl children and their basic human rights.

      Why do some in the society have so much uncontrolled freedom (which they continue to prove, they have no idea how to handle) over the lives and the rights of other equal humans?

      What we need to control is the unlimited power some of us have over how we view the ‘consequences’.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ermmm, no. How about parents trust their daughters to be socially, emotionally and physically responsible young adults and treat them as individuals first because they are entitled to it? No stupid restriction, no rebellion. Simple! Adults must be treated as adults, not as little children just because of their gender.

      Like

    • “Parents are scared of social,emotional and physical consequences if the girl can not handle the freedom responsibly.”

      Let’s look at the parents’ point of view. Parents are right to be afraid. I would not give my 12 year old more freedom than he can handle. He is a child and it makes sense for me to be protective of him. Indian parents see their daughters as children even after they become adults. This is why it is hard to trust them with responsibility. The problem therefore is NOT if the daughters can handle responsibility. The problem is seeing women as girls, seeing adults as children. They are using the wrong lens.

      And when will these women be able to make decisions that have no consequences? Never. Because all human beings make mistakes and sometimes, that’s how we learn. By making mistakes. We learn by living. We don’t learn when we stop living. And even if we stopped living, it doesn’t guarantee a problem-free life.

      As a society, we don’t see adult women as adults. One of my cousins recently got married and when she visits her parents, her mom still treats her like a child, tells how to talk, how to behave, what to do, whom to visit, which pujas to perform. Not even the mom-in-law, the mom herself does this policing. When will this daughter be allowed to grow up? In her teen years, she had zero freedom – she could not participate in sports, wear what she liked, or go out with her friends. Her field of study was heavily influenced by parental pressure. Her husband was someone she had to choose from a series of pre-approved (by parents) men who met parents’ requirements for caste, salary, etc. And now that she is married, she is still being controlled. Next she will be told to have kids, how many, and when. When exactly will this end? When will this person ever be able to guarantee that she will make a mistake-proof decision?

      Like

        • It will end the day her son gets married and a new “replacement” is found.

          Suddenly, the infantilised, repressed and controlled woman will have limitless power over another human being.

          All the pent-up frustration of being denied self-determination will explode within her.

          From a servile, submissive daughter-in-law, she will morph into a vengeful, controlling mother-in-law.

          She will rule the couple as she was once ruled herself.

          The cycle will continue, unbroken.

          Like

    • Harshit…other people don’t get to decide whether an adult woman can or cannot be free. Freedom is a birthright…it is not a privilege that is given conditionally based on good behavior, like in a prison.

      “if the girl can not handle the freedom responsibly” – Are we saying guys have been handling their freedom in a responsible way so far? Let’s eliminate this double standard way of thinking. Also, how do we know whether someone can handle freedom responsibly unless they are actually given their freedom. As long as the person does not misuse their freedom to harm others or violate other people’s freedom, they are not accountable to anyone else as to how they handle their freedom.

      Freedom includes the freedom to make mistakes. If adults are not oppressed, why would they rebel?

      Yes, men should respect women…we can start by looking at women as individual human beings who need to be treated as such.

      No one is recommending burning the house. Cleaning it is fine. But the cleaning needs to be done far more on one side than the other. Your comment makes it seem as if cleaning needs to be done on both sides equally…which is a gross misrepresentation of the ground reality.

      Like

  10. Two points came to mind when reading your post.

    1. Is it possible at all to try and ignore what people may think of you when they see you out with your male friends? I know at 21 it may be hard, but it really shouldn’t matter what someone thinks of you that you will likely never see again.🙂

    2. I don’t know where you are in your education, but if you can apply for a masters in NYC you should! I lived for three years in NYC in my mid-twenties and it was THE most exhilarating experience I will look back on fondly the rest of my life.

    This is my favorite quote…

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    Mark Twain

    Like

  11. Dear LW

    Most of the Indian parents are controlling in nature…..you really cant change their thinking. What you can do is to live your life the way you want but with with more careful approach. Like the boys you have befriended, make sure they are decent enough not to take advantage of you and are sensitive towards your respect. Thats all you need to take care of. Not telling your parents about them should not put you in guilt if you trust your decisions of befriending right people in your life.
    Let go of the guilt. Your parents are not ‘adult’ enough to understand you and not want to change according to changing times.
    My parents were restrictive until my graduation.When i started earning, they stopped being restrictive and started treating me like an adult. I would advice just be more careful and do your thing, let go of guilt, wait until you get a job, see your parents reactions and see how they treat you once you start earning, if they still try to control you, then move out and live your life. They would have no legal rights to control you once you become financial independent.

    Take care
    FS

    Like

  12. I’m from Europe, so my parents never tried to discourage me from having male friends, but I have to say I have become quite a bit frustrated with men. Every other man I thought I was friends with turned out to actually want to be my boyfriend.
    And at least one of those was not able to understand that “I like someone else, you make me uncomfortable” means “no!”.

    I think the letter writer’s father has it right. There was a young man I was dating, who tried to pressure me into letting him stay the night, even though I didn’t want to, and I was very relieved to be able to tell him “My parents would not approve of that”, even though, in reality, my parents have always allowed girlfriends and boyfriends to spend the night.

    So, in order to protect a daughter and ensure her happyness, the best thing one can do is to allow her to meet male friends and boyfriends at her parent’s home, and thus make clear that she has her parents’ support.

    Like

  13. Pingback: Inter sex mingling in coed schools – permitted or not? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  14. Pingback: Are schools right in enforcing such strict boundaries between interactions between girl and boy students? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  15. Well,

    As a likely scenario, you would be made to choose in getting hurt your self and living with “normal” norms and keeping our parents mind at peace ( not happy, they would never be happy once they you are not happy, (its my assumption))

    and getting them hurt and fast forward their their attitude graduation so that down the line they can accept your choices and being genuinely happy & peaceful with their and your choices.

    Undoubtably hurt is ensured in both of scenarios but happiness is likely in only one.

    Like

  16. Pingback: Friendships between men and women | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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