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I seem to be getting into the habit of picking up from where I left in my previous posts, and I just hope that my posts do not sound like a litany of I, me, myself!
To respond to Sunil Deepak’s comment on my post ‘She Must Be Black, No?’ where in part he asks the question, “Or do we need to say that every one should have only love marriage…do we need to say no more arranged marriages?” I can only say that where I am concerned it is so pointless to debate the merits and demerits of arranged versus love marriages. To me it is not a question of which is better or worse; to me it is far more important than that. It is a matter of what choices our children make when they step into adulthood, or what choices we allow them to make. And I will only speak for myself.
I personally can never be an arranger of marriages. Marriage, to me should strictly be a matter of personal choice. Many parents, sadly, seem to think that all of life’s choices regarding their children should be for the parents to decide. After all, it is us parents who gave birth to our children. Didn’t we arrange their education; didn’t we try to impose career choices on them? Didn’t we decide what movies they should watch, whether they should have late nights, whether they should be on the Internet for so many hours in a day, or whether they should mix with the opposite sex…it’s a long never ending list, and we parents don’t even realize that all we are doing, at least most of the time, is to arrange our children’s lives as we think we should.
We all wish our children well, we do want to offer them all the best that life can offer, but somewhere down the line, perhaps unknowingly, we become less of parents and more of arrangers. And we let this role of arrangers spill into our children’s lives even when they enter adulthood. Let me speak from my own example. Every minute of my life was arranged. At home by my father, and in boarding school by the discipline that was part of life in school. I loved to read, and my dad would actually want to look at, and approve of every book that I read. He would tell me what was good for me, and a time came when I began to feel whatever I decided for myself must be bad, for my dad hadn’t put his seal of approval on it. I was low on self esteem, and from a thinking individual I was turning into an automation, and I yearned to break free. This censoring of my reading by my dad is only a small example of how my life was arranged, controlled and regulated. It was, in reality, much much worse.
I was a teenager, and the only way I figured out to break free was to rebel, and I rebelled with a vengeance. Now, so many years down the line, I do realize that maybe I could have handled things differently, but how could I? I was never taught to think for myself. My wife tells me that because I had led such a regimented life as a child and as a teenager, maybe that’s why I am so ‘liberal’ with my daughters. Perhaps I am, but then my daughters are individuals in their own right, and I am happy being a father, a mentor, a guide and not an arranger. And yes, now I am 50, and I often dream that my dad was a little different, that he was just a dad, and not The Arranger of my life.
Coming back to arranging marriages for my daughters, I have said in an earlier post that I will not do it. Not only will I not, but I can’t, I won’t even know how to. I have been there with my elder daughter, ensuring that her transition into adulthood was smooth and that she is capable of deciding for herself what is right and what is wrong, including marriage. Now I am doing the same for my younger one, and soon she will also be stepping into responsible adulthood.
“Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry.”- STEPHANIE MARTSON, The Magic of Encouragement
I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management
Children never grow up in India. 🙁
Lets appreciate our responsibility.
Wow, I hadn’t realized that I was provoking so much reaction! 🙂
No one among us (brothers and sisters) had an arranged marriage and none of us are trying to arrange one for our children. But I know that arranged marriages have not yet disappeared and seem to be thriving well in India.
India has another kind of marriage, love marriage that is then “arranged” so that parents of the two sides meet and make practical arrangements (including dowry related issues).
I am not saying that I approve or recommend it, I am only taking note that these continue to happen in large parts of India, among our friends and relatives (at least to me, that happens).
Agreed! I am glad you provoked a reaction, and all I was doing was to put forward my point of view! Thanks for another reaction from you.
I think it is quite alright to “arrange” (whether marriage or anything else) provided the other person wants you to do so. After all, we meet people through office networks or even online, so if parents act as a medium to introduce, there is nothing inherently wrong with it. What I find problematic is the baggage that typically comes with such arrangement that “ladki-wale” will act in a certain way and “ladle-wale” deserve to be treated in a certain way etc. If we drop these, parents introducing will be just another way to meet people.
Wow! Can I adopt you as my father-figure? I love your thinking and wish my biological father was like you but that boat has passed.
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