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More Married Daughters Should Take Up The Responsibility To Care For Their Ageing Parents In India

There are small but significant number of daughters who choose to take care of their parents. And yes, their spouses are supportive of their decision.

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smita singh
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A friend and colleague of mine is an only child. She was born and brought up in Kolkata but she shifted to Bengaluru after marriage. Till her father was working, everything was fine, but once he retired and old age set in, I would see her call up her parents each day to ask about their well-being. If they needed anything she would make arrangements from Bengaluru. When finally they could not manage on their own, she took a month’s leave (leaving her eight-year-old daughter with her spouse), sold off her huge ancestral house, transported some of their stuff to their new flat close to her home, and finally shifted them to Bengaluru. I feel so proud of my friend for looking after her parents in their old age.

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Also Read: Moms, Please Stop Saying These 0 Sexist Things To Your Daughters

Now, I would like to ask you, if there is anything extra a son could have done for his parents

than what my friend did? I don’t think so. So, why do we still feel sad when daughters are born and in later life the parents have reservations about accepting their daughters as care-

givers? Times are changing, we need to wake up and smell the coffee. There are small but

significant number of daughters who choose to take care of their parents. And yes, their

spouses are supportive of their decision.

Of laws and rulings

A landmark judgement by the Bombay High Court from 2016 says that a married woman too is responsible for maintaining her parents. I believe this to be by far the most righteous step towards women’s equality. There was another land mark judgement by the Supreme Court, where it ruled that a daughter has equal rights as sons where ancestral property is concerned. So, if daughters are equal beneficiaries in ancestral property disbursement then what stops them from taking up the responsibility of caring for their parents in return? That’s a fair expectation I should say.

Paraya dhan and other such notions

Patriarchy is ingrained so deep in our psyche that from the moment a girl child is born she is considered ‘paraya dhan’ (or someone else’s property) and every step thereon is based on that. Ironically it starts from her parent’s home. Yes, there are homes still in this country where the best portions of food are served to the sons and other male members and daughters are served what is left; still ironically it’s their mother who will discriminate.

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Also Read: Women Hold Families Together: We Need To Value And Respect Them

Daughters as young as eight-nine years old are already inside kitchens helping their mothers while the sons are free to loiter around, basically not do anything. The struggle doesn’t end here, she has to fight for her right to go to school then fight to go to college and then to take up a profession (because in our country some professions are not meant for women as it will hinder her from performing her duties as wife, mother and care provider). Parents are reluctant to let their daughters bloom to their full capacity as she is ‘paraya dhan’ and she has to be married off.

So, they see no use in ‘wasting’ money on their education, which they would rather save for her marriage expenses, which they have to spend in any case and pay dowry too.

Once married off, in her husband’s home she will remain an outsider throughout her life. Ironically though, in spite of that she is expected to forget her parent’s home and family, and

dedicate her life to taking care of her husband, kids and in-laws.

So, in such a scenario if daughters are given equal portions of her parent’s property then she will have a moral standing in society and in her in-laws home to take care of her own self and her parents in return. That’s because it will give her financial independence irrespective of

whether she is a career woman or a homemaker.

Also Read: Raja Beta Syndrome: Are We Ready To Take It Down?

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It may even force parents of girls to focus on their education and career, rather than just consider them to be a burden. In the longer run, this could help in ending the discrimination between girls and boys that starts while this child is in womb itself

The friend of mine who is caring for her ageing parents has a single child as well. I hope her daughter is positively inspired by watching her mother be a caregiver and goes on to take up the role in future when she grows up and my friend needs her.

Image Credit: UEA

The views expressed are the author's own.

equal rights daughters daughters as caregivers elderly care
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