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When In Trouble, Whom Does A Parent Turn To?

Posted: April 16, 2014

In times of need or distress, a parent says she would prefer to seek help from a daughter rather than a daughter-in-law. Is this a universal feeling?

Just the other day, a simple comment made me sit up and think…am I not as impartial as I think myself to be? What was so different about this one sentence? It got me thinking and I still am not sure what mattered the most – her comment or that it affected me both as a daughter and a daughter-in-law.

The comment went to the very touchy topic of a daughter being a part of a family forever but a daughter-in-law ‘trying forever’ to be a part of the family. If she manages to ‘earn’ the love and respect and admiration, then she will still forever be the ‘perfect bahu/daughter-in-law’, not a daughter.

So, do we try? To be fair to everyone, I will say yes, we do but for how long and to what extent – that varies from one individual to another. The comment in question was that in case of a medical emergency, a daughter is preferred to help the mother instead of a daughter-in-law.

The lady was quick to assure me that it’s not that the bahu cannot help as well as the daughter, but only that she would find it easier to be with her daughter. Was she more comfortable baring herself to her own flesh and blood than someone who had left her home to make a home with her, just like her? Why?

I was saddened to hear her but managed to answer her questions, nodded my agreement and fled as quickly as possible. The conversation got me thinking, do we all not feel the same? If it was me needing help, would I too ask for my daughter? I of course, do not have that option as I do not have a daughter…..so who would I approach in my hour of need?

Where do people go whose children are not close by or cannot or will not help them?

It took me back to the most delicate time women undergo – child birth. The Indian custom is mostly but not always of going to one’s mother’s place but what about other places? Is this a circle – you go to your mom and she comes to you whenever there is a problem. Is there a valid reason behind this tradition or is it just a question of comfort?

Was the lady pointing out the obvious that I was not aware of? Yes, I too had gone to my mother’s place for my delivery. It’s a different story that I fought with my mother all through the stay due to my raging hormones but she was there no matter what I did (no excuses for my bad behavior!)

So is it true that daughters care for us more than our daughters-in-law? Are the daughters-in-law actually different from the daughters? Do we even give them a chance or are we just following stereotypes?

I have personally looked after close relatives when they have been extremely sick and all I wanted and got from them were blessings. How can you refuse to help any one who is sick?

I find it perfectly acceptable to ask anyone willing to help in my time of need to do so or else get professional help. The lady who passed the comment had stated it as a matter of fact and not out of spite. Trying to tell me the importance of being a good daughter, did she not realize that it takes the same things to be a good daughter-in-law?

Has the present generation become so self-centered that we are afraid to share our troubles? Why do we assume that our own child is better than someone else’s child?

Am I just a selfish person or was it her instinct for self-preservation that led to the comment? Maybe its her way of saying that she prefers her own child around or was she just showing me the mirror?

I always wonder how a woman does not empathize with her own daughter-in-law when she has already faced the future in her past. Have you ever faced a similar dilemma?

Pic credit: Judy Baxter (Used under a CC license)

Freelance writer, blogger and Human Resource Management Lecturer. Juggling my precious worlds and trying to

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Vaginal Health & Reproductive Health - योनि का स्वास्थ्य एवं प्रजनन स्वास्थ्य (in Hindi)



  1. I think it is just a question of comfort and does not particularly matter whether it is a daughter or DIL. I remember this incident after my delivery. Some 8-9 days after delivery, I was supposed to take an oil bath, which was supposed to be administered by an elder woman, either mom or MIL. Both of them were there, but I chose my mother. Purely because I was not uncomfortable with her giving me a bath. My sis-in-law, at the time of her delivery did not have a problem with our MIL giving her the bath. It is just the level of comfort that you share, and I suppose it works the same the other way round as well. My MIL is also more comfortable with her. When she had a back injury, she would ask my sis-in-law for help.

    • I agree Arunima, it is a question of comfort but at the same time if one has the option of choosing their parent or child the other person should not feel left out or make an issue out of it. Unfortunately it is usually a big issue at times spoiling a joyous event or worse.
      There are others who don’t have an option of their own parent/child but get along fine with what they have.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  2. I think it’s kind of obvious that one would be more comfortable with one’s own child who has grown up seeing one in different conditions and who one has spent a lifetime cultivating a bedrock of trust. There may be exceptions where in-laws get really close, but I’d wager that most often people are going to be closer and more comfortable with their own parent/child, if for nothing else, the sheer amount of time spent together which breeds comfort. I don’t know why anyone should be upset by the thought that a person might be more comfortable with their daughter than their daughter-in-law. It sounds entirely logical.

    • I agree that the logical thing is to lean on your parent/child but what of those who do not have this option? But it is an issue and people to tend to be upset if one chooses their own family. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. kaalekakhopcha -

    There’s a huge scope for hypothesis in this argument, and that’s where your beliefs come in handy. I believe in karma, and I think both the MIL and the DIL should too…lest they want to end up on the wrong side of providence.

  4. Dear Indu, again a very thought provoking article. I tried finding answer for the same . Firstly, I am of the view that a mere comparison between any two living things or non – living things itself will prove one thing better than the other. Likewise, Comparing the mother – daughter or MOTHER – DIL relationship will yield no different results. Secondly, it’s the human psyche of associating oneself with the one with whom you have spent more time and shared fond memories for eg. If you have to name your best friend, you will probably recollect your friend since childhood rather than the one you had friendship in later part of your life for d very simple fact dat it was pure with no vested interests. Mother – daughter relationship is one such pure relation or even more by virtue of bearing her for those nine months and associated pain. Thirdly, definitely it’s a matter of comfort….. ie mother seeking daughters help and vice-versa, wherein own kids ate away or not there then compromise has to be done.

    • It is true that we are more comfortable with one whom we have a longer association but we must also think of those who do not have any option.
      Thanks for your comments but comparisons are inevitable.

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