#Opinion

Why Do Parents Hesitate Staying At Daughter’s Marital House?

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Our society firmly believe in the idea that a father shouldn’t even consume a glass of water at his daughter’s marital house. Very rarely do parents visit their daughters after they get married. And if they do, they hesitate in seeking their care or staying at daughter’s marital house for more than a week.

I have personally witnessed how this belief turns into the biggest ordeal and pain for both parents and daughters. My maternal grandfather chose to stay alone at vulnerable age and with a disease that took his life rather than staying at daughter’s marital house whom he loved so much. And my mother cannot stop but regret and wish she was a son who could stay with his father till the end.

Why do Indian parents rightfully stay with their sons and daughters-in-law in any corner of the world but hesitate in staying at daughter’s marital house?

Do daughters become paraya after marriage? Or are sons supposed to be the only offspring who has the right to be with their parents throughout their lives? 

Rooted In Paraya Dhan ideology

Our Indian society goes by the belief that a daughter is a paraya dhan. Giving birth and raising a daughter is often termed as watering the plants of the neighbours. This is because a daughter will ultimately go to her “own house” after marriage and embrace her in-laws as her parents and care provider. And to achieve this, a daughter and her parents are expected to be submissive to the society and the ladka walas (the prospective groom and his family). On the other hand, men become the pride of their parents as they bring money, respect and power to the family that will be their own and not a paraya dhan.

Now, because some parents perceive daughters as burdens on the family so much that they commit crimes like female infanticide and foeticide, will they want to be in touch with their daughters after marrying them off to another family? Don’t such parents consider an end of their responsibilities towards their daughters once they get married?

Why do parents shy from visiting a daughter’s marital house? Is the responsibility of parents just left to sons? 

Moreover it is also rooted in the idea that daughters cannot take care of their parents monetarily like a son. Depending on a married daughter for care and support would mean being a burden on the son-in-law. In Indian families, unlike daughters-in-law, sons-in-law aren’t expected to respect or serve their in-laws who are already laden by his favours of marrying their daughters.

In-laws too have a problem with it

Before you criticise me for being too negative about Indian parents, let me tell you that though not all parents see their daughters as burdens, the hesitation in staying at daughter’s marital house remains the same for many. The idea that after marriage, a daughter is uprooted from her parental house and becomes the amanat of her in-laws still dictates the relationship between married daughters and their parents.

Haven’t you heard regressive statements like “aapki beti ab hamari hui” being used again and again by the in-laws as an apparent expression of love and respect? But is it so? Doesn’t the statement openly legitimise the idea that after marriage a woman is no longer a daughter of her birth parents and hence has no rights and responsibilities towards them? Doesn’t the statement further forbid the rights of the parents on their daughters? But why should in-laws dictate and decide the relationship between a daughter and her parents?

Budhape ka sahara only sons?

What if a family doesn’t have a son? Or their son isn’t financially capable enough to pay for the entire family? Can’t they depend on their financially capable daughter for care and support after marriage rather than forcing themselves to stay alone? Even if she isn’t earning, what is wrong in expecting the son-in-law to serve his in-laws? Or do we assume that only male child can be the support of parents in the old age or else no one?

And if parents do not stay with their married daughters even for a week or month, will they support them if the marriage doesn’t work out? If bidaai means a daughter and her parents lose the right to love and stay with each other, then why do we even have such unfair customs?

Changing the narrative

It is indeed empowering that today many parents are trying to raise feminist daughters. But dear parents why do you internalise patriarchal stereotypes about daughters and let it overshadow your love for them? Why do you value the patriarchal views of society more than the happiness of your daughters? Not only parents but in-laws too should unlearn the patriarchal stereotypes about daughters and daughters-in-law.

daughter's marital house, Five Feminist Dads Bollywood

Feminist Dads

Parents shouldn’t break ties with their daughters after they get married. And neither should in-laws question their daughters-in-law if they care and value their parents. Marriage is a bond of two people and their families based on love and understanding. Let us not make it a medium to sever our relationships.

Views expressed are the author’s own.