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Parents And The Girl Child

Posted: May 21, 2010

As a girl, in India, you are not supposed to support your parents once you get married. You give everything to your spouse and in-laws; in some communities it’s considered sacrilege to even drink water in your daughter’s house!

This is the main reason why Indians prefer sons compared to daughters. They feel that their sons will take care of them in their old age and often are quoted saying that their sons are their only investments.

Daughters are a burden because when they come of age, they have to married off and that’s a big expense; I think the system of dowry evolved mainly because the parents wanted to earn back what they spent on their daughter’s marriage!

But…what is not counted as dowry is the money that the girl’s parents spend on the hall, the jewellery, the decorations, the place where the groom’s family is put up in case they are from out of town, the cost of bringing the groom’s family to the place of wedding, the food,the transporation etc etc. Isn’t that one form of dowry? Shouldn’t it be shared by the groom’s side equally?

And once the girls get married, they are not expected to support their parents. Most parents are embarrassed to ask anything from their daughters. Why? Why can’t a girl support her parents. In fact, in the companies I have worked till date, I am not allowed to give my parents’ medical bills since they are not my dependents (the fact that I can’t even give my in-laws’ medical bills is another story in itself!)

What if my parents didn’t have a son  or couldn’t support themselves? What happens to the millions of parents, who have only one daughter, or who have only female kids? Who is supposed to support them?

Apu had done a very interesting post on how parents with only girl children are better savers for their future. It may be true….

I know of parents with boys who think their sons are their future investments and often end up saving nothing, and then realise that their sons are not going to take care of them. What a tragedy! And in such cases they don’t even let their daughters take care of them; they just suffer in their old age…

While in the western world, people have social security and invest for their future, since it’s not expected that the kids will take care of them, in India that doesn’t happen. Everyone wants their parents as free caretakers for the grandchildren while they work, but many don’t bother about taking care of them once their purpose is served.

Even if a girl wants to take care of her parents, she needs to find acceptance for that in her spouse’s family…the  husband, the in laws, they all need to agree for her to support her parents financially. This is inspite of the fact that the girl may be earning enough to take care of everyone around her…isn’t that weird!! I mean, if I don’t take care of the people who brought me up for 25 years, who else will??

My MIL has a very interesting perspective; she says that everyone should have their own house. What she means is that even if you stay with your children, you should have a property in your name. Her logic may come from that fact that she has seen some people in her family suffer when their sons refused to take care of them even after them selling off their house, so that their son could buy a new one…pretty surprising, isn’t it.

When I hear of stories of parents being kicked out the house or children leaving the house, leaving the parents to fend for themselves, I wonder how someone can NOT take care of their parents…I mean, how can you forget what your parents did for you…your wife and kids are important..but aren’t they equal to your parents; and this same set of parents, refuse to go to their daughter for support or even accept any support from her…even if she wants to give it…what an irony!

As a parent to a girl child, am I supposed to be extra careful and save for my future or hope that my child has understanding in-laws who let her support me and my husband?

As a parent to a girl child, am I supposed to start saving and buying gold for her marriage or just hope that she gets married to a guy who loves her and not the money she gets with her…

As a parent to a girl child, am I supposed to hope that if I ever decide to have another child, it should be a boy so that he can take care of me and my husband?

As a parent to a girl child, am I supposed to consider that she is a burden to me?

We are slowly becoming a very selfish generation..we are so busy earning ourselves that we don’t seem to understand the sacrifices our parents made to help us reach this level. I only hope this selfishness doesn’t penetrate too much because I believe that ‘as you sow, so you reap!’

R’s Mom is a working mother in Mumbai trying to balance work, home and

Learn More

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6 Comments


  1. Pingback: On Taboos: A Letter To Indian Parents | Women's Web: Online Community For Indian Women

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