Why Don’t Desi Parents Take Their Daughter’s Income Seriously?

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Desi Parents on Daughter’s Income: Beti se paise kaise le? How often have you come across this question? Whether you are a married or unmarried daughter, you must have faced your parents’ reluctance in asking/using your income for their or the family’s cause.

On the other hand, parents do not hesitate in using their son’s money which they often do rightfully. But why is this difference? Do parents not value their daughters’ money as much as they value their sons’? Do parents not take their daughter’s income seriously? What is the reason behind parents’ reluctance in praising or asking a daughter’s income?

My maternal grandfather passed away months ago. He was not staying with his son and daughter-in-law and so he was being provided with money by his son monthly. Staying alone at a vulnerable age was not easy. But still, he never chose to seek financial or emotional support from his daughters who lived few kilometres away. It was only his son’s responsibility to provide for his living and treatment. Even though he has passed away, he has left behind many questions unanswered. Why couldn’t he stay at his daughters’ marital house? Why couldn’t he seek his daughters’ financial and emotional support? And why did his daughters think about samaj and its criticism more than providing the support that could have saved him till today?

Why don’t desi parents value their daughter’s income?

The major reason behind this is the idea that a daughter’s money if she is married, belongs to her husband or in-laws. She must spend her money on the requirements of her marital house alone. Some in-laws even criticise their daughters-in-law if they choose to send money to their parents and expect them to deposit their money to husbands.

Moreover, in the case of unmarried daughters, they are expected to be good at housework and not earning. And even then if they earn, their job is seen as a mere hobby that they might have to get rid of after marriage when “real” responsibilities begin. Hence, daughters are never seen as providers of support but are the ones who should be provided by their parents/husbands.

Amidst this, parents naturally tend to depend on the income of their sons who is seen as the legal provider of financial and emotional support of their parents. The one who is not a paraya dhan and will stay back rather than moving to his marital house as women have to do. It is not hidden that women’s pay and participation in the workforce is lesser than that of men. But does this mean she loses the right to invest in the needs of her parents? Just because a woman earns less (which is not always the case) should her income and job be belittled? If sons have the right (and sometimes even pressure) to pay for their parents why can’t daughters share the responsibility too?

Although, some parents push their daughters into daily wage labour rather than providing education. But this is not an example of how parents value a daughter’s job or income. This is an example of how some parents exploit their daughters due to the burden of poverty, lack of awareness about education and empowerment.

Daughters are capable of earning and providing support

So dear society, it is high time now that we accept that women are capable of earning a high paycheck and providing for their parents throughout their life. Even if a woman earns less, it is her right to share the responsibility of taking care of her parents with her male sibling. Because it is also not right to impose all the responsibilities on the son just because he is a man. Rather than seeing daughters as paraya dhan or someone who needs to be provided, dear parents, educate your daughters and encourage them in seeking a job with good pay. Stop belittling her job and income, however less or more they are. Because every woman deserves to be independent and a strong pillar of support for her parents.

And, to be honest, life will be easier if the entire family supports each other rather than falling apart by the tremors of the lopsided idea of gender roles and discrimination.

Views expressed are the author’s own.