As the youngest of five-daughters, raised in an extremely patriarchal family and as an Indian mom of two daughters, who recently got rid of her patriarchal in-laws and family of origin, I hope I can give my daughters better life skills than I received.
My blessing for you my little one is that may you grow up without fear, hold your head high and make your own decisions. This image is for representational purposes only.
There is a part of me that feels that maybe, just maybe the world will be different when my two little angels (12) and (14) will grow up. But the more I see of the world and the more I read of people’s opinions, that tiny hope dies.
Like most parents my hope is that my daughter has better than me. So I have decided to take things into my hand and listed a few things that I hope to teach my daughters….
You and Only You Hold the Key to Your Destiny
Your life, your choices. Nobody, mother, father, brother, sister, sister-in-law or any extended family member tells you what to do once you grow up. You make your own choices. As a mother it is my duty to take care of you when you are young. It is my responsibility to make sure that you grow up to be an adult that is confident of her choices. I need to work on giving you the tools that make you confident and independent.
Don’t Be Wary of Confrontations
I learned it the hard way that when it comes to Indian families, there is a lot of emotional abuse. I was raised to never question authority, but I am hoping that I am raising you to question authority even mine. The other day when I told you that you should not wear a particular skirt, because it was too short, you asked me why and I did not have an answer. When I said that it looked indecent you asked me “describe indecent” and I think I was never prouder of you. I hope this spirit always stays with you. Believe me you will need it, if you want to survive in a patriarchal world.
You are a Human Being, with Needs, Wants and Desires
When I got married, my mom told me that “your husband, your in-laws and your children come first. Their happiness defines your happiness”. And that is why as a newly-wed I never questioned it when I would eat dinner alone, after feeding the entire brood, or when my mother-in-law called me slut because I wanted to go out for dinner with my husband. Or when my husband said that I was “loose” because I told him that we needed privacy. I never questioned because my mother had never questioned. But when I questioned, I had to leave. While many may tell you that life is ruined but I have never been happier. I want to tell you YOUR HAPPINESS is IMPORTANT. The only person whose happiness you are responsible for is yourself. People may call you selfish or rude or arrogant or prideful, but if it makes it any better your mother will never judge you.
Never Let Anybody Touch You Without Your Consent
If anybody, man or woman touches you without your consent it is not your fault. I will always trust you and I hope, that if ever need someone to talk about any incident you will find a non-judgmental listener in your mom. I could tell you that things are changing but honestly I don’t think they are. I want to beat the world and make it kinder but I am not sure if in my lifetime I can achieve it. But till then I hope to give you the tools to survive in it. It is never your fault.
Any Guy that Wants Money to Marry You is the Wrong Guy
He maybe chivalrous, good-looking and charming – believe me, they are all that when you are not their wife. They make you feel like the world revolves around you and will hang on to every word you say.
But then gradually the demands start. Some are subtle and some not so subtle. It starts sometimes in the name of family pride and sometimes to please their family. Sometimes the girl goes along because she feels that she doesn’t have a choice, but I want to tell you that its better to be single and old than give money and marry. I’d rather you keep the money and live a fulling life.
Wear What You Want to Wear
You may think that in this day and age nobody tells anybody anything but you are mistaken. From your dressing to your walking to the way you talk everything will be judged. But don’t fall for the trap. Be proud of who you are and do not change unless you want to do it for yourself. They will start by telling you that it is for your good, but you are grown adult and you know what is good for you.
Make your Own Rules
My mom taught me to follow the rules and when I was suffocated and struggled to breath, she asked me to learn how to live my life on a short breath. But I hope I have taught you differently. I want you to make your own rules, society’s disciplines and rules are overrated. They don’t make you happy. Life is short, while you will certainly have regrets they better come from your own decisions and your own actions.
The world might not be ready for you, but I don’t want you to wait till half your life is gone to realize what it is that you seek and what is it that you want.