As a society, we strive hard to raise smart, intelligent, and educated children. We strive hard to make sure that we provide them the best avenues to educate them so that tomorrow they could use their intelligence and create a better society.
But, there is a catch.
If as a daughter-in-law you tend to use your education or intelligence to raise a voice against the regressive mindset, don’t be surprised if you are labeled as ‘badatmeez’.
Even if your intentions were good and, you only wanted to make the elders of the house be aware of customs that need to change for the betterment of society. Don’t be surprised if you get a huge lecture on how your parents forgot to raise you well.
Like many progressive parents, my parents raised me to shatter the social stereotypes and live life on my own terms. They taught me how kindness, love, and care are as important as education, career, and success. Because of their constant support, I completed my engineering from one of the best institutes in the country and started working at a well-established MNC.
Though many may think my parents have done a good job of raising me. But sadly my in-laws don’t. Here’s why:
Whenever I raise questions about the regressive mindset, they think I am insulting them.
Whenever I am made to blindly follow certain traditions, but I don’t. Rather I take a stand and speak up my mind, they feel I have no respect for their value system.
Whenever I share scientific reasons why we shouldn’t do certain things a certain way, they feel I am showing off my education just to make them feel small.
Whenever noisy relatives share their unsolicited judgments about my clothes, career, or life choices, in general, I tell them to mind their own business, even in the most polite manner, makes me badatmeez.
Whenever I seek equal participation from their son in running household chores, they feel I don’t respect their son.
And, the list goes on.
My story is no different than many other daughters-in-law, who raise their voices against the regressive mindset. And when they do, it doesn’t sit well with the elders of the house.
In our society, elders, especially our in-laws, enjoy special privileges. One of them is that they can get away saying anything that comes to their minds, and no matter how much it hurt your self-esteem. As a daughter-in-law, you are expected to stay silent, because:
“badon ko jawab dena hamarey sanskaaron ke khilaf hai” (it is against our values to talk back to elders).
Hence, I wasn’t surprised when my desire to speak up my mind was interpreted as a lack of values. It was heartbreaking how my parents, especially my mom, were blamed for not raising me well.
As per my in-laws, because both my parents were working, they didn’t have had enough time to make me learn the right values. It shocked me when one day my mother-in-law made an example out of my mother to make a point about how kids of working moms are not raised well. She blatantly said:
“Dekho, agar Maa kaam pe jayeingi toh bachon ko sanskaar koi nahin sikhata. (If mother goes to work, who will teach values to the kids)”
At that moment, one thing was clear to me that whatever we say about education and career, our society still wants ‘bechaari‘ bahus. It is disappointing how women who suffer in silence are often worshipped as perfect sanskaari bahus.
And the ones who are the real heroes fighting against the patriarchal mindset will always be seen as villains.
Well to sum it all:
Dear Educated & Bold Daughter-in-law,
Even in the 21st century, I am sorry but our society still isn’t ready to value us. Doesn’t matter how well established or how well educated we are, we are not supposed to use our intelligence. We still don’t have the right to speak up our minds or voice our views.
In a society where we are supposed to suffer in silence in the name of tradition, if you are one of those who are speaking up, then I am proud of you.
Our society may not celebrate you, but believe me, future generations of women would. Your struggle will lay the foundation for their freedom. They would always remember you whenever they raise their opinions and it won’t offend society anymore.
So, not just for yourself but for all those future daughters-in-law, don’t give up!