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Moolah Brought In By A Working Daughter In Law Is Welcome, But Her Freedom To Work Commitment Is Not!

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Women are expected to do it all, but not permitted to have it all. These double standards of patriarchy are reprehensible!

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Here comes another one in the looooong chain of messages/images eulogizing the devotion, loyalty and commitment of females towards their family and the sacrifices they make for them. Wow… how awesome!

And look how conveniently this awesome thought wale author saheb/sahiba has got rid of the girls’ dreams, desires, aspirations, hobbies, career, health and happiness.

To translate loosely into English, it reads, ”Dear daughter, you justify your birth only when you serve your families and die for them. And in between if you work to earn money, that’s part of your duty to ease the burden on your husband! If you let go of your aspirations, your hobbies, quit your job, that’s of course because of your motherly instincts for your children, why else!”

We all want female teachers, doctors, lawyers, policewomen, nurses, maids, etc. because we feel our women and children are safe in their presence. But when they have to put in long and erratic work hours they are immediately taunted – that it’s only a job they are doing, not social service or a favour to the family. We are so proud of our female pilots, policewomen and military officers but not many would want them as their daughter-in-law, because “instead of her looking after the family, our son would have to look after her needs!”

Career women are constantly reminded that their primary devotion should be towards their family but at the same time we do not shy away from commenting disparagingly about our children’s teachers, our doctors, our nurses and officers for being negligent towards their job, uncaring and unconscientious workers and hence undeserving of their jobs. Promotions and equal salaries are very often denied to women employees on the pretext that they do not stay in office till late, may get pregnant or that they take leaves on ‘frivolous excuses’ of child care.

We love the moolah our women bring in, we appreciate when they confidently handle their jobs and household chores, file their IT returns, deal with the workers…“Oh my wife/daughter in law is so highly educated, confident and capable! We are so proud of her!”

Sigh…it’s so ironical that the moment these very confident, caring, capable women express a desire to go on an outing with their friends sans the husband and children or splurge on something they want, or even go for an official training or outstation trip, all the love, admiration and pride vanishes with the wind.

They are disparaged for being selfish, uncaring and unconcerned about their family and children. They are time and again reminded of their responsibilities and duties, of their children’s exams, husband’s official meetings and tours, the in-laws’ illnesses et al. And god forbid, if a child falls ill the mother must stay at home otherwise she is branded an irresponsible mother.

Despite all this, before they step inside their homes they are expected to leave out the thoughts of their workplaces and tend to the demands of their husbands who have had a long tiring day at work, their children whose homework and projects await them, cook and clean, forgetting their own tough day at work and aching body.

I am always reminded of how Pepsico head Indra Nooyi’s mother had questioned her late-coming right at the door of her house and reminded her that she is not a corporate honcho at home – she is a wife, a mother, a daughter who must go back and bring some milk immediately because her husband who had already returned home an hour ago, was tired! So whatever her achievements, a woman is always a third citizen inside her home, the man of the house being the first and children the second.

In such a scenario, it is not surprising that at times neither the work a woman does nor the money she earns is appreciated. One of my acquaintances so magnanimously told me that they’re quite open minded about their daughter-in-law continuing with her job and that the only condition they had put before the ordinary B Tech girl their IIT+IIM educated son was going to marry was, that she would have to quit her job when the family needed her. And to top it all they added that didn’t need her money since the son was earning enough to keep her in luxury!
Such open mindedness and such kindness…oh my my!

Thanks but no thanks! You are welcome but your broad-mindedness is not!

All the poets and authors of such sentimental messages, please do not impose any such fake greatness upon your daughters/sisters/wives/daughters in law. They are humans with dreams and desires, weaknesses and fallibility of their own, not some superwomen or goddesses! Let them live, please don’t bury them under the mountain of your expectations, directly or indirectly.

And if anyone wants to still send me any such messages, my friend list needs some cleanliness.

P.S. The accompanying image was received as a WhatsApp forward and the source or creator is not known to me.

Image source: shutterstock

Seema Taneja

Seema Taneja

Curious about anything and everything. Proud to be born a woman. Spiritual, not religious. Blogger, author, poet, educator, counselor.


Author's Blog: http://indiesunrise.blogspot.in/

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2 Comments


  1. I agree with your post on many levels. Parents and more especially mothers in families, have to be the ones to break the mould and be noble enough and intelligent enough, to teach their growing kids to see things in the right light. Children should be taught from a young age that gender roles in a family are not rigid but rather fluid in the current day. Men and women must share the load (of work and responsibilities) and must also be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour equally and fairly. Perpetuating stereotypical roles that convenience only some and disadvantage others, defies logic and reason. Members of the family must move towards being honest and understanding each one’s contribution whether it is remunerated or not and value it appropriately. Women and men who contribute either money or effort should be equally valued for their contribution to the smooth running of the family as an organisation. No one is extra “special” and therefore should enjoy advantages or privileges just because of their gender. Just as no one is especially designed by nature to be unduly overworked/exhausted or available to satisfy everyone’s needs just because of their gender either. This common sense knowledge has to be taught and expressed often enough if it is not something already figured out by family members.

    • Seema Taneja

      Exactly! And even if the husband wants to help in housework it is frowned upon by family elders and nosey neighbors. This skewed social conditioning is so deep rooted that women have to bear double burden of expectations now.
      Thanks for reading and writing in an elaborate and well thought over comment.

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