10 Things Indian Moms With Daughters Are Told To Do That They Actually MUST NOT!

Breaking the mindsets of raising daughters in India
Breaking the mindsets of raising daughters in India

Admit it, at some point of our lives as daughters almost every woman has been taught how on to behave ‘correctly’; which has further been ingrained into our system until we became mothers ourselves. 

Today thankfully owing to changing times, newer outlooks and knowledge (I’m not going to say education because I’ve realised that sometimes even education has nothing to do with a broad mentality and even educated people have narrower mind sets) – things are changing for the better.

The thing here is to break the mind set, to change it so that our daughters can grow up safe, sound and not sorry for being outspoken, outgoing and happy.

Here are some of the things that a typical Indian mother is told or at least is used to be told and thankfully is changing with the times:

  1. Don’t let your daughter play too much in the sun. She will become dark and once she becomes ‘dark’, she will not look ‘beautiful’ and which eventually translate into not getting a good match when she grows up. Also, don’t let your daughter grow too tall, else you won’t find a good match for her, as men don’t like very tall women.
  2. Don’t let your daughter study too much or work in a high-paying job. Her education and salary should ideally be a little ‘less’ than a prospective groom so that their marriage has no problems owing to an ego clash. A woman should not earn more than her husband – says who?
  3. As Meghna Joshi, a work from home professional shares, “One thing my friend’s mother-in-law told her when her 9-month-old daughter was crying of hunger was “Let her be and let her learn to deal with this; because as a woman she must learn to manage her hunger later. I was shocked to say the least. Thankfully my friend is a dynamite and she gave her mother-in-law a mindful!”
  4. Don’t let her talk too much. No one (read: in-laws) likes talkative girls – well unfortunately that’s a basic freedom of speech that every one deserves and that doesn’t have to get diluted if it’s a daughter.
  5. Don’t let her hang out with boys too much. It isn’t ‘safe’, especially after she gets her periods. What will people say if she’s had a boyfriend before marriage? She will not get a good match. Please understand, even the boy she’s set to get married would have dated a few girls before he gets married. Why should the rules be different for a boy and girl?
  6. A dialogue that I really liked in the movie ‘Pink’ – ‘Humarey yahan ghari ki sui character decide karti hai’ – that the hands of a clock decide the character of a girl. If a daughter comes home late from work she’s frowned upon and not if a son. Why?
  7. Don’t let your daughter wear short clothes, she will look cheap. How about teaching our sons to respect our daughters even if our girls choose to wear short dresses.
  8. If your daughter smokes and drinks, she’s of ‘bad character’ – well, keeping aside health reasons, it’s a personal choice and habit if as an adult a daughter chooses to smoke and drink. How can it decide her character?
  9. Being a divorcee your daughter should ONLY marry a divorcee. Or even worse, since she’s a divorcee and a single mother, your daughter should marry a divorcee with a child. What if a single man decides to marry a single mother? People always seem to raise an eyebrow saying that’s a clever move by the single mother. Why does a tag of a ‘divorcee’ of a daughter determine her character?
  10. This one takes the cake – teach your daughter to ‘adjust’, to do the balancing act as that’s what a good girl is expected to do. Because our daughters will be the future home makers and mothers, we are told to teach our daughters to adjust so that their family remains well fed and cared for and even intact, sometimes we wonder why aren’t our sons taught the same values? Life would be less stressful for an Indian daughter.

The list is endless and but I hope with changing times, the list gets shorter and one day it vanishes.

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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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