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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

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  1. I dont want to start a ‘my culture is better than urs’ argument on a public forum. So all i’ll say is that I am an Indian. I grew up in a small house with my parents, my dad’s parents and my mom’s parents. And having maternal and paternal grandparents staying with you was not considered strange in any way in the state where I am from. When I turned 24, I was working out of state, I fell in love with a boy from a different culture and after 4 years of dating, we decided to get married. It was then that I heard the rules… My parents can never live with us. However his parents HAVE to live with us. ANd a bunch of other biased rules. I was torn.. torn between my bf and my parents. I finally married my bf. But theres not a day when I dont go to bed wondering whether I made a mistake. All i can hope and pray now is that my now husband and I will work this out the ‘right’ way when the time comes…And that I dont have to feel guilty about marrying him. Why are some cultures still so biased?

    • its so true…why can a girl not live with her parents!!! why are we yet so biased?

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

  3. It’s extremely biased- considering it’s the wife who has to do all the work -cooking, cleaning, taking care of the parents. Wouldn’t it be easier if all parents instead went to the daughters house. There would be no saas bahu drama anymore. No mother-inlaw burning dils. No dowry demands, coz daughter are valued now.

    Indian system is very biased and sexist. But truth is this is not even our culture.
    According to the vedas – the four stages of life/ ashrams are : bramhmachrya, ghristha, vanaprastha and sanyas.

    But we’re not following the vedas, thus we’re not following our true culture. .

    So how can anyone claim that this is our tradition/ culture. It’s not.
    Better to have both set of parents live close by and take care of each when the time arises.
    They don’t need a live in-cook/maid/ dil.

  4. with regard to your comment: ” 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 parent.”

    This is what society expects has to be done with parents of a girl- leave them with no support. It’s considered bad if a man doesn’t stay with his parents and make his wife take care of his parents. But a girl/ woman has to ignore her parents and not take care of them…

    Thus nobody wants daughters, everyone wants a son. Soon, with the skewed ratio of girl children there will be no more girls left.
    I believe that is the only way, India will respect/ value its daughters.

    And the funny thing is why do Boys parents have this expectation that children “owe” them. As parents, it’s our job to take care of children, coz they didn’t ask to be born. it’s really not their job.
    I hope they will be there for me when I’m sick- because they love me, and not coz it’s their duty.

  5. My gf had a very poor family in malaysia..she had a brother who never cares his family..recently,she got a job as a counsellor in an international school and at the same time,her dad lost his job..as she born from a poor family,she never feel whatever happiness that other girls felt..she was happy when got a job although the salary is cheap because she is working for what she studied..and she thought that after this she can live as happy as other girls..so,when her dad lost his job,she the one have to tc of her family..now,her dad is asking for almost 80% of her salary every month..she is totally confused now..she is not sleeping well and keep thinking of her family..she is 25 years old now and still struggling..she is a very good girl and i dont want to lost her character..i tried to advise her but she is not in the state of listening to others advice…or maybe im not good enough on how to advice her..pls someone teach me on how to advice her..

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