Parent daughter relationship in India is fraught with many social challenges. Most daughters of this generation were born to parents who wanted to be feminist parents, who often end up giving into their patriarchal conditioning one way or the other. As a result of this self sabotage, India parents often end up dismantling lives of their daughters, which they helped build up based on virtues of self-sufficiency, agency and freedom.
A lot of parents raise their daughters to be independent. They encourage their wards to study well, pursue a career and teach them stand up for themselves.
However, once does achieve all these goals, the problem to sustain them begins. Indian parents still give into the pressure of society, which tells them that a girl shouldn’t be out in the streets at night, shouldn’t have a boyfriend, and always put her family above everything else in her life.
Paying a Price?
So while parents are all for educating their daughters and cheering for them as they secure impressive packages, these achievements come with a price. Not many parents are okay with their girls pulling night shifts, or going out for parties with their friends.
Most young women studying or working away from home keep their love lives hidden from parents, because they know that not only will their parents disapprove of who they chose to love, it could also curtail their education or employment opportunity, as parents would then order them to wrap everything up and come home.
Drinking alcohol at parties, having a boyfriend, staying out late, spending your money as per your wishes and not under parental guidance begets a chorus of “Ladki hath se nikal gayi” that no parents want to hear.
Indian Parent Daughter Relationship: Caught Between Feminist Beliefs And Patriarchal Values?
Ladki Ki Izzat
Indian society still values a woman’s izzat more than her independence and parents are no different. The minute their daughter challenges ground rules laid by them for supporting her aspirations, many parents find it difficult to keep supporting their daughter.
Right Age to Marry
However, things only get worse when a daughter reaches the “right” age to get married. Suddenly that PhD that she plans to get begins seeming unnecessary, when compared o the risk of losing out on IITian groom with a hefty package. Even if the daughter agrees to oblige her parents and settles down with a groom of her choice, out of the blue moms begin advising their daughters to put their family first. Years of education and work experience is deemed unimportant, by the very parents who had shaped this girl’s career, helped her achieve financial independence and wanted her to never put any limits on her dreams.
Indian parents need to understand that marriages, motherhood are not as important as society makes it to be, these have to be voluntary choices that a girl makes and she should never have to compromise with her career or individual life goals to meet societal expectations. By forcing her to submit to social norms they end up undoing all the hard work they had done to help their daughter achieve her potential and aim for the stars.
A daughter doesn’t just deserve parents who shape her career, she deserves parents who trust her and stand by her choices. Who refuse to give into social pressure and know that bringing a daughter up is just one part of raising a girl. You have to be there in her corner for the rest of the life. That’s the only right way to do it.
The views expressed are the author’s own.