A couple of days back I happened to meet an acquaintance of my mother’s who did not look in the best of her spirits. When I cautiously prodded her on why she looked so somber as if on cue she broke down. Her MBA daughter had married the guy of her choice and moved to HongKong with him. And now after 2 years of a seemingly happy marriage, she had got herself transferred to India and was living alone in another metro. From the sound of what my aunt was saying, it looked like her daughter was unwilling to go back. I told her to be more compassionate of her daughter and figure out if there were instances of physical or mental abuse.
This aunt of mine began to sob inconsolably by now, “No beta! All of it is our fault. Apeksha is our only daughter and we brought her up like she was our son. I can see my daughter’s fallacies now. She is incapable of any kind of compromise. She did not learn how to cook. In India, she could have managed with a maid. But in a foreign land… Also, she has not been able to come to terms with the idea of a marriage where two people have to collaborate and sometimes compromise. I wonder if we went too far in making her independent and forgot to instill some basic virtues for a happy life.”
This conversation stayed with me for a couple days. I went back in time and remembered how my father always glorified the fact that he was bringing up his girls (we are two sisters with no brother) like sons. Even today he is a proud father who believes that no son could have done him more proud. And then it struck me. IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH RAISING GIRLS TO BE TOO INDEPENDENT?
The middle class saw a dawn of opportunities for their children during the 90s when the Indian economy was liberated. Parents became progressive and ambitious not only for their sons but also for their daughters. Especially the mothers saw it as a way to their own salvation. Their lives would acquire meaning if their daughter could be financially independent and not be at the mercy of her husband or in-laws.
This has resulted in a generation of young women who are highly educated and professionally ambitious yet many of them are unhappy and complaining about their lives. I read and hear of many instances of divorces due to incompatibility. Apart from genuine reasons like abuse, neglect, and infidelity, most marriages end in divorce due to a lack of commitment and the ability to keep channels of communication open at all times.
An imminent child psychologist made a valid point when she said that in the wake of being supportive of our girls we are raising individuals who do not have their heads on their shoulders. Before you judge me for what I say, hear me out.
We are raising our girls to be equal to boys and teaching our boys to respect girls and learn all kinds of home chores. Fast forward 20 years, are we expecting the boy to be the lady of the house or do we expect our girl to be the man of the house. We want neither of those things because we’re trying to rise up and away from those stereotypes.
We want happy individuals leading a balanced and accomplished life. Both girls and boys need to equally respect each other and appreciate each other’s challenges.
At the risk of facing wrath from the feminist lobby, I wish to express my concern at the trend where while raising independent girls we might be (please note I say ‘MIGHT BE’) misleading them to believe in a world that does not exist and pushing them without preparing them into difficulties of the real world and unavoidable nature. So my advise of parents of Little Girls is –
Love them, yet keep them grounded
Give them wings, but teach them how to land
Let them fly high, yet teach them to come back to their nest appropriately
There’s no harm in being a Feminist but raise them to be considerate of an alternate point of view
Having said this, I wish for a happy and successful life for every Girl in this world! #InternationalGirlChildDay