Why it isn’t enough to raise independent daughters.

 A Guest Post by AlwaysHappyKya.
There is this story making rounds in the internet and has a very positive message.
Although I agree with what the writer has to say, it got me thinking.
Why did the boy grow up to think so chauvinist in that household? A main character should have been mentioned in the story. The boy’s dad.
Although the boy watched his sister growing equal and independent, maybe he still saw the mom doing all housework while the dad really did nothing at home? Maybe the boy believed women are supposed to cook, dress conservatively based on his dads opinion and his moms image? Maybe, he watched his dad slap his mom sometimes and thought that was okay too?
I believe, as long as BOTH the parents show the kids how to live equally, work as a team in society, the kids ( irrespective of girl or boy) will pick it up and progress.
Just thought these thoughts are worth sharing out there.
AlwaysHappyKya
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How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way?

Sharing an email.

” I wish they just become bad… too bad… too abusive that they start beating me. That would be easy for me then.”

What would you say to him if you were his parents? How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way? 

What advice would you give to the email writer?

’24 year old guy: Help needed Desperately’

Hey there,

I am struggling with a challenge which might seem quite ridiculous at first, and may be it is, but I can’t seem to come out of the situation. I live in a traditional Indian family. But through my small rebels, I was able to create a tiny bit of freedom for myself. And, my parents are supportive of me at some level compared to the rest. Though they still are traditional parents, but compared to what I hear and what I read on your blog, they don’t stop me from doing what I want (in most cases). And that is the problem. They are just normal people… good…fine… OK people. Not abusive, not threatening. Nope. Nothing like that. Just common ordinary people of ordinary lives. I am 24 years old and staying with my parents.

I know it is being very destructive for my growth to stay at home and be lazy and continue the living style my parents inherited from their… and continue the same trend. I am big on personal growth, wants to come out of conformity, escape the rat race, living adventurous life and I keep doing what my current level of growth and confidence allows me to. I just can’t live fully at home, and can’t do all these things I desire, that I know for sure. I want to move out. I want to constantly travel, from one place to other. Try new challenges. And living at home is very limiting. My parents may be slight above in par than the traditional Indian society but that shouldn’t make everything OK.

They don’t encourage me. Don’t support my growth plans, even if they are good.

My parents even make fun of my goal of vegan diet. They think it is too impractical in India. They call my decision of leaving meat as “pretentious” and boring. Can you believe that? They don’t allow me to buy good healthy expensive cooking oil from my own money, just because it is expensive and they don’t know why I do such thing. They don’t understand my habit of reading books. They call me “Kitaabi Keera”.

They still constantly ask, not force, but ask politely to take a regular job. Which I have clearly told them I will not. And I am earning myself through a writing job which does not pay that well. But I take care of my own needs. And this discussion of job still come up every single day. But other than that, they are, I guess, nice people. Normal average people. Don’t abuse me. They give me some level of freedom which THEY think is appropriate but not the “real” freedom. So the problem is – I want to move out but parents are blackmailing me emotionally. Which I think is selfish nature. Whenever I talk about moving out they make sad face. Their tone of voice changes. They just WANT me to stay at home and live a mediocre life like they did. They are so bored and afraid of life that they can’t think of anything they could do themselves, without me. This is utterly sad and depressing. The love between mom and dad is totally gone. They are just living and counting days. (And are they expecting me to do the same?) But they never really pressurize me to stay, never really threaten me to stay, which is the problem itself. Because if they did, I would move out that day only. I know that is completely out of line. But they don’t do that. They become sad, helpless, lonely. that is where I get stuck. I wish they just become bad… too bad… too abusive that they start beating me. That would be easy for me then. I don’t know what to do. I can’t live at home anymore. I have a lot to explore and staying at home at 24 years of age is depressing. Don’t tell me I can stay at home and make it worthwhile without knowing about my passion and goals. And this is one of the hardest decision I have faced in my life. Can’t stay… can’t move out. It scares me to even think of a sudden crisis, an unfortunate event at home, which might happen when I am out of city. Will I who be blamed? I know I can not just stop thinking about it and move out with my stuff. That is just not possible. The solution is somewhere inside me, somewhere I have to grow, give a shot at making them understand, something, I don’t know.

Please give me some advice.

Thank for you reading the whole rant.

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An email from An Adult Male of India : “Every single family sitting or phone call will eventually lead to….”

Sharing an email from An Adult Male of India.

Dear IHM

I am an adult male of India.

Family background is moderate as parents are govt. servant and we have been nuclear family since 1986. I am an engineer by profession having typical life style in Delhi. Parents stay in home town. I have a younger (6years) brother, who is studying as of now.

My mother has been fierce and open rebel against societal stereotypes in many things which she could understand and comprehend as stereotype as much as I have seen her though my father is a product of patriarchal system and stereotype which he pretend not to be so as far as it does not hurt his own interests. You have to imagine what kind of battleground home can become in with these two personalities in same room.

Because of studies and work I had to leave home town a long back (~11year) and since inception of my comprehending abilities I have been an introvert person who don’t interrupt anybody as far as it does not intrude in my space but at the same time have very strong but logical view point at his own.

I have made my own decisions so far which I intend to continue till death and everything was hunky-dory till a year back. In last one year my folks have started showing a pressure on me (including my brother – surprisingly) to get married. Every single family sitting or phone call will eventually lead to a holy grail – my marriage.

I tried to tell them to mind their own business in every possible way – love, reasoning, compassionately, fight and what not. They agree at that point of time but later on like weeds it comes again.

I asked her/them why they are doing this and in reply I get answer like,

1. Societal pressure(?) – I asked her that when she be rebel all her life whats wrong now which silence her and to en extent father and brother too but then again.. like a weed.. comes again
2. There is a right age to get married
3. Other people my age have kids by now
4. Why I don’t want to get married

There is cross fire every time and after that a deathly silence.

I love my family beyond doubts but this is become burden I just cant keep saying same thing all the time and ruin my time and their too. Its damaging my relation with them. It damaging family in whole.

I fail to understand why cant they leave this to me to make this decision too?  What is the way out?

On the other hand, I don’t know why one should get married. I don’t know what to say when I am asked why am I not getting married. Its like I don’t know.

I meet ladies and I have many friends but at the end of day I don’t see that understanding part in them. Ladies are interested in getting settle down living in one city whole life and babies etc. Well that not my cut. I don’t know what is settling down.

The thought of settling in one city with a family with kids makes me restless. I want to travel. I travel a lot for personal and professional reasons. My idea is when I am on my death bed my passport should have every damn country’s stamp on it. I want to make money for that. I am having a business acumen in me and keep trying. I am happy with my self professionally but if come back to ladies. I don’t know why it is difficult to just live and let live.

So far my family were source of my energy but now they are sucking my energy like anything. I feel tired after talking to them. I don’t feel like talking to them.

Is there any way out of this?

Cheers,
An Adult Male of India

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“Your comments did help me, though not in a way that I had hoped…”

Hi!
Thank you for posing my problem on your blog, and I would like to thank each and every person who commented.
Your comments did help me in getting out of this solution, though not in a way that I had hoped for, but hopefully this is the best solution for long run.
Some of the comments had raised very logical questions, that made me really sit back and reevaluate.
I did have a long discussion with L about the issues raised in my mind, but the answers that I got shocked me! At times during the discussions I felt I was talking to a 3 year old kid and not a 24 year old man!
The reason that he said that he ‘has to” do what his dad has asked him to do ‘even if it does  not make him happy’, is that he feels his dad has gone through many troubles in his life and he does not want to add to his troubles.
I still dont understand this! How will a marriage with me add to his dad’s troubles?
All said and done, he is going to ‘sacrifice’ his love and  marry the girl of his dad’s choice.
I will not pretend that this decision did not hurt me. But, now that I think about it, maybe it’s all for the best, you know.
Even if we had ended up getting married, his dad would have always seen me as the outsider my happiness would have never been in consideration (i mean if the son’s happiness is not considered, how will the outside-of-samaj DIL’s happiness ever be noticed),
And from the way L was defending his dad’s decision, I dont think he would ever have been able to support me in future.
So, thank you IHM, and your readers for everything and hopefully I will find someone who stands by me soon, till then i’l enjoy the ‘me’ time and work out and shop more!
Regards,

“His parents had already found a girl from his community who they feel is ‘perfect’ for him.”

Sharing an email.

HI IHM!

I have been a fan of your blog since long. The comments and the discussion that happens on each post it truly a very eye-opening. The point of view of the commentators are so different and unique that really helps the readers in similar situation.

Of late, I have been in treading in similar waters and would like to share my problem with you and your readers for solutions.

I am in a relationship with a guy from different community since two years. We came in touch during our masters, we did our post graduation from the same college. He helped me through some difficult times and now, we live in different cities, but the relationship is still strong.

Now, we have decided to take the relationship to next level and get married. Personlly I cant wait to get married and I know this sounds cheezy, but I have this weird vision of both of us being 80 year olds and still being happily married. 🙂

His parents had been already searching for a girl in his community since even before we had met. But we did not want to enter into a marriage just because of this, so we took our time to get to know each other and understand each other.

Meanwhile his parents had already found a girl from his community whom they feel is ‘perfect’ for him. His family is quite traditional so they expect him to meet her once and decide if he wants to marry her or not.

So, he decided to tell about me at his place. On hearing about me, his dad started crying and stopped talking to him. He said that my guy (lets call him ‘L’) had hurt him. L went to his native and tried to convince his family in every way possible. He gave examples of couples who had previously gotten married outside caste and are happy, his family believes a lot in religion, so he gave examples from Gita, Guru Nanak, Radha Krishna etc all that said love marriages were ok.

We even surfed various blogs on this and pointed it out to his dad.
But nomatter what points L put in front of his dad, his dad only said one thing: ‘ All you say is fine but she is not from our caste.  She will not fit into our lifestyle. She will make you go away from us. Marry the girl we choose for you and you will forget her as the girl we have choosen is from our caste and can easily mix with our family” All this even without meeting me!

Now, L lives alone in another city, and I will be joining him there after marriage. Currently his mom used to live with him as she suffers from dipression and his dad visits him once a month for couple of days.

He even said that I have lived with people of various castes and creed and got on well with everyone. And that I will most definately get on well with the family, provided ofcourse, that the family will also make an effort to be cordial to me.

L even said that he does not want to be tied down in a marriage with a stranger and face all things that his parents and grandparents had to face. To which his dad replied that he was being selfish for seeing only his happiness.

Even I tried talking to his dad yesterday, but no matter what I said his answer remaind the same. “Beta we have to stay in samaaj. I cant go against Samaaj. If you get married than samaaj will make fun of me and I dont want to face that.”

Now finally he has told L, “Do whatever you want. You will have my blessings. But if you marry her, I will have to break all contacts with you, and next time you come back, we will ask the girl that we have choosen for you to come and decide everything for final time”

Now L and I do not want to get married against the parents wishes. We want them to be with us on our big day.

What we want from IHM’s readers is that if someone had faced a similar issue that how they tackled it? How they convinced the parents?

We really tried everything we could think of but still we whatever we say, the answer always is the same: Caste. How to solve it.

IHM, please post this on your blog, we really are at a wit’s end here.

Regards

D.

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Reply from the Indian mother in law.

Sharing the response from V, the mother in law who wrote, ‘An email from a Mother in law’

Reply from ‘V’

Dear Bloggers,

Thanks a lot for your honest remarks, comments, opinions and valuable suggestions given to me on respond to my blog on family situation. I discussed all these suggestions with my hubby and decided to take it positively. Last Sunday we all four (Incl DIL) sat together and had unanimously resolved all the issues in friendly and fruitful atmosphere. I am immensely happy that my DIL and son took lead role in the discussion. She (DIL) herself changed her decision on ‘separate’ home but given an idea of investing money for 2nd home near Lonavala or Khandala so we both family (her also) can enjoy weekends or vacation together. My son also opined that we should invest some amount in Recurring Deposits which can be utilized for both families’ emergency need. They also suggested that my hubby’s all retirement money (PF/Gratuity) need to be invested wisely to get regular income to meet our own expenses and to get big chunks of money. They also decided to look after all monthly home expenses, finance planning with the help of my hubby after his retirement. We are very proud of our daughter (DIL) and son.Thank you bloggers once again for changing our mindset and kudos to IHM for creating such wonderful platform.

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“Leaving US is a tough decision and, going back to live with in-laws has scared and shaken me.”

Sharing an email from Daughter from India (DFI).  

Dear IHM,

I have been an avid follower of your blog since 2008. Off-late I saw many readers seeking advises on this forum and even I am in need of some advise at this juncture of my life and hence I am writing at length to you.

We had a love marriage, both in same undergrad college and did our MS from same US university. We both are gujjus though from different communities. I thought of my hubby to be a very forward looking, self reliant individual (especially after I saw him manage well with “homely” duties in US). We didn’t have a long courtship period since we told families about us being in love and our intention of getting married too early in the stage (as soon as we finished MS and before started working full time) – both families agreed and we married in a month! Looking back we think we should have spent more time discussing our priorities and preferences in life (where to settle (US vs. india), joint family vs. nuclear, openness to me having his community’s style of foods (I am an ardent fan of my kind of food vs. his family is strict about their preferences), thoughts on kids’ religion, my last name etc.

I am an only child and have been brought up with no “restrictions”/unequal treatment whatsoever. I have grown up to be an independent, confident woman with a good career and understanding of responsibility towards my parents, in-laws etc. Being a fair and rational thinker, I assumed I will be “allowed” to eat what I like, raise children as “our” children imbibing values from both families, treating both sets of parents with equal responsibility etc.

One day we were discussing how do we manage funds etc. and my assumption of priority was “hubby and I make core family which is most important, both set of parents make up the second tier of circle and then his sister, her family, my cousins etc come in the third tier”. However, his opinion was that after marriage, our first tier is “his family – including his parents and both of us”, and in second tier it will be my parents and his sister. I didn’t like the idea of giving this biased importance to his parents and we had some argument over it but I gave up. Looking back I think I should have stood my ground firm and strong. In that dilemma I googled on what do other “modern indian daughters in law” go through, do they face similar questions like I did? And I found your blog on, Joint Families and Indian Daughters.

Coming back to present sitaution – We are in US, drawing good salary, good savings, blessed with a little princess and overall leading a very content happy married life. Our parents are back in India. My husband’s family wanted us to move to India and live with them since sometime, but somehow we kept delaying the decision. My husband is totally in favor of going back – my hunch is its mainly because his parents have never given him any other choice! They always say “Come this year, wrap up things” etc. and never said that “What you both think? Decide what you think makes more sense to you”. Me, on the other hand feel suffocated by the fact that we are not given the freedom to choose and sanely make a decision of where we would like “our family” to be.

In addition, I have concern about returning back to India and living with in-laws – over the last 6 years, my experience of living with them has only worsened. Already leaving US is a tough decision for me and on top of it, going back to live with in-laws has scared and shaken me time and over again. Please note that my intention here is not to run away from responsibilities, I know I will be there and try my best to help in times of need for anyone, be it my parents or be it in-laws. Also note that his parents are comparatively young in early 50s and mine are in early 60s. Touch wood, all are doing good healthwise and well-being-wise. Both have good homes to live in, a very happy social life and we support both set monetarily (it’s another long story on how we decided to manage our funds and whose parents get what.)

When my in-laws tell my hubby “We miss you, come back soon” etc, he goes in a frenzy and wants us to move back asap. I have managed to control that by saying we will decide once we get “greencard”. Now that our greencard is very close to processing and we have a baby, we want to finally “settle down”. I think we have three roads,

1. Buying a home in US and settling here atleast for some more years or

2. Going back, living with in-laws and investing elsewhere or

3. Going back, buying home in india and living nuclear.

I am personally ok with either option 1 or 3. But am very uncomfy with option 2 – I don’t need explain details here since many of your blogs have covered pretty much what goes in my mind.

To summarize – I won’t be allowed to cook what I like , my MIL doesn’t like that I try to imbibe mine as well as their culture in my baby. The expectation is that I will convert to their beliefs, my parents will be a second priority in life, I won’t be able to visit them or viceversa as much as we would like to and the list continues.

In order to simplify things and put a case for my preferences, hubby and I decided to give a “trial” period in India where we plan to go there for 2 months, live and work from there, experience life and daily chores, decide what we want – muster courage to discuss our preferences openly with in-laws/parents and then come to a final conclusion. Please note that I had a very tough time convincing my hubby for this “trial” period too, he was all set to go back as soon as greencard is in our hands.

With all this in mind, I would like to ask readers and your advise…

Am I doing anything wrong by not simply agreeing to settle back in India with in-laws? Since I am not comfortable with that idea, how do I go about “evaluating our trial period in india”?

After 2 months, if I still feel I don’t want to live with in-laws or rather settle in US, how do I convey it to my hubby and In-laws? My hubby said he will never be able to tell his parents that he wants to live nuclear. Also, I have told my thoughts and opinion to my parents and they are ready to support me in either situation/decision I make, whichever makes me happy eventually.

Looking forward to your thoughts…I just cannot thank you enough for your blog, for the inspiration it has been to me over all these years. You are one of the big reasons I am able to survive emotionally; not feeling “guilty” of not being a “traditional” Indian bahu”.

Apologies for the long email and if you decide to post it on your blog, then once again many thanks!

–   Daughter from India (DFI)

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An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

Let me share a comment in response to “An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?” (Click to read)

How common do you think are these expectations? How common is it for Indian women to feel fortunate and empowered that they are marrying a family and not a man? In general, are women able to/allowed to choose?

I apologize to the email writer, because I have not sufficiently engaged with her problems. Just got on my own train of thoughts that I wanted to share here. This is quite possibly a separate mail, as I have no answers for her, but only going to talk about me.

//Moral of the story for all going-to -be -married ppl is never to agree to live in a joint family after marriage.//

As a ‘good’ son, who’s at the age when he should be thinking about getting married, these kind of mails/comments put the fear of God into me.

My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

That her conception of a marriage is going to be principally about ‘me and her’ and not principally about my family and hers.

I grew up in an environment where individual identities weren’t a big deal. Individuals were integral part of the families, where the sum is greater than the parts and naturally got greater precedence. There wasn’t anything to think about it at all. And this wasn’t always about women. Men choosing careers, other life-choices was always wedded to the interests of the family, even as things got more and more nuclear.

Slowly this has begun to be viewed as ‘stifling’ and it gets mixed with the debate about a women’s role in the marriage. But I think it is larger than that. It is the individual and the family.

This kind of ‘judging parents’ is just not done. They can be difficult it just does not matter. They can’t be approached with a calm weighing of pros-and-cons. In fact the terms with which relationships are being discussed here – ‘fairness’, ‘I do my bit’, really leaves me baffled. I see one commentator has done person-hour math about kitchen time!!

Anyway each to his own. Let me stay on me..

These new-fangled ideas of parents ‘letting the kids live their lives’ do not appeal to me. I just want my parents to be as they are today. Comfortable making the kind of decisions (or what would be called ‘intrusions’) they have been always been making. I don’t want them, at this age, to start withdrawing into a ‘you have your life, we have ours, we’ll meet for dinner’ mode of things. If marriage were to do that to my relationship with my parents, it would be quite disappointing.

And they are already mentally preparing to turn our relationship into one between adults who respect each other. And I know they are consciously turning into different people as this is in my best interest, going forward. I just want to be treated as always: like a kid, who can be ordered about and taken for granted – not politely asked favours. In fact I get very annoyed when they say: ‘would it be possible for you to do this?’ when the last two words would have sufficed.

I want to be someone with whom they can speak their mind to, without fear of being judged. And I hate it that they are slowly transitioning away because popular media and their social network is teaching them to ‘be mature’, ‘to stay out of your adult son’s business’ etc.

I know that seems to work for most people these days. I also know I probably skipped a generation: I much prefer the relationships my aunts had with my grandparents than my cousins (and cousins-in-law, I have no siblings) have with my aunts. It worries me that the girl I am probably going to marry, is likely to prefer the latter.

I always make career/life choices that ensure my parents are most comfortable. I don’t like associating words like duty, sacrifice etc. with this, because all of that emanate from an individualistic thinking. What I am talking about is, having really no considerable conception of oneself as an individual, in the first place. IMO, more than any attributes, it is his/her relationships that defines a person. Someone who is even conscious of placing a family’s interests above one’s ‘own’ is going to have a problem. It’s only a matter of time.

I realize, the way I have presented it is quite paternalistic as I I have not mentioned my relationship with my parents-in-law. Actually I am resolving to go all out on that. And that is not just because of reciprocity, because that is how I naturally feel about marriages and relationships.

Heck, the last few years I have been thinking about my prospective parents-in-law, whoever they are, more than about my prospective wife.

Will they be living with us? What can I do to make them comfortable with me, my parents (4 elder people, starting to live together in the autumn of their lives – one can anticipate discomforts).

Or will they not choose to live with us? Where then? With my siblings-in-law? What if they live in another city? Will my wife be ok with that? (I can’t conceive not living under the same roof as my parents, let alone in a different city). Or would we need to move to a place that works for all of us. Or will they be more ‘mature and distant’ people, than me and my parents? In which case, would a girl who grew up in that environment enjoy become the closeness of our family? Or would she call it ‘suffocating’?

And so on and so forth that it is just crazy. My question is, is it possible a girl out there is likely to be thinking about a marriage along these lines and not thinking principally about the guy she is going to marry?

And the more I read the comments here, the more I doubt the possibility of that.

Scaredy Cat

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