My Daughter’s in-laws: Yes, you are right. As a parent, I didn’t give my daughters the right values. I failed her.
Like many Indian parents, we also started talking about her marriage from the day she was born. We started talking about how we will save money for her education, marriage, and her jewelry.
We gave her the best education, we got her admitted to the best school and then to the best colleges. We also told her that her degrees are important; her career is important; but marriage is the ultimate goal.
Isn’t it what most of us do? We raise our daughters to be strong and independent. We raise our daughters to build their careers. But, it is their marriage that gives us the feeling that our daughters are settled.
Even though our daughter was doing very great in her career, we had this constant feeling for her to get married; to be settled for life!
In this quest to be happily settled, we told her to make her husband’s home her home; to treat his parents like her own; to adapt to their style; to make adjustments. Even in the case someone says hurtful, to ignore it.
Though we told her to have a career, we also taught her how to sacrifice and compromise for her husband and family; We taught her how to forgive people; We taught her to be kind to others.
Though we raised her to be confident, at the same time, we told her that she needs to respect her husband and her family at any cost. We told her not to talk back to her husband and her family even if they say things that hurt her! Because, in the end, elders are elders and the husband is a husband after all!
We were so damn wrong! We felt we were raising a girl who was confident, strong, independent, and had the right values. But sadly, we weren’t giving her the right values.
You were right when you told our daughter that her parents didn’t give her the right sanskaar; that we forgot to raise her with the right values! Yes, you were right!
When you kept ignoring her; insulting her; ill-treating her; she kept taking it. She kept the pain in her heart and kept making endless adjustments and compromises. Because we taught her how she has to fit in; she has to respect you at any cost.
When someone spoke rudely to her, she kept ignoring it, because that’s what we taught her.
We told her to be respectful to you and to your son. We taught her not to complain too much and try to fit in. Because that’s what women are expected to do after marriage.
We were so wrong. We failed our daughter. Our daughter kept handling all that struggle on her own. She was so desperate to fit in and please her parents that she kept doing whatever it took to please you and her husband. She refused to even share it with us because she felt she may be failing us as parents. She kept struggling, she kept crying all alone; she kept bearing the never-ending pain and suffered in silence.
We hope other parents would realize the mistakes we did. Hope they would understand that our daughters are complete with or without marriage. They are settled if they are well educated and independent.
Rather than teaching our daughter how to tolerate and suffer in silence, we have to teach them how to stand for themselves. We need to teach them that marriage is mutual. There are two people in the marriage, who need to love, care, and respect each other. We need to teach them respect is a two-way street. Just because someone is elder to them that doesn’t give them the right to insult and abuse them.
More importantly, we need to teach them that their happiness and respect are not conditional; It’s their right to be respected, happy, and loved in the marriage.
It is sad how the values we teach our daughters leave them confused, weak, and vulnerable. We raise them to be strong and independent but we tell them to bow down to their husband or in-laws for maintaining a happy marriage. We raise them to be ambitious but then ask them to sacrifice it for their husbands and in-laws.
You work so hard to give your daughters wings to fly. But when they are ready to fly, you don’t let them. You give them wings and then put them in a cage.
Let them fly because that’s what they deserve! Let them fly, let them fly high. Very high!