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As long as my daughter understands how to handle relationships maturely and with honesty, I don’t see why I need to assume that she has to marry!
“And one day she will marry and leave to build her own nest…”
“Sorry for interrupting, but how do you know she will marry? There is a probability that she may not want to.”
“Huh! Of course she will. Everyone does. She can’t be living alone all her life.”
“Hmm. Well there are examples of people who have chosen to stay single all their life. So what’s the problem if she makes such a choice too? Who decides that everyone should marry?”
” Those people must be feeling very lonely. Everyone needs a partner in their life for company and love.”
“We are no one to decide for everyone. Happiness and love mean different things to different people. No two people can have same expectations from life in all aspects. And in any case, she is just a toddler now so why are we even discussing this?”
“But don’t you think she would need a man in her life to protect her, make her feel loved and cared for?”
“Absolutely not! Firstly, I don’t want to teach her that she needs to depend on someone to feel protected. Rather, I want her to be self-sufficient and be able to take care of and protect herself. Also, again you are assuming she will need a man. What if she turns out to be gay? She might not need a man you see, in that case.”
“What are you saying? How can you even think like that about your daughter? So disgusting!”
“You are reacting as if I cursed my daughter for something. What is disgusting about being a gay? You are being a hypocrite because just the other day you were posting on Facebook about supporting gay rights but you clearly don’t!”
That was it – she stomped out of the room in anger even before I could complete what I wanted to say and I was finally relieved that this harebrained and frivolous conversation came to an end. As is already obvious, this was a discussion I was forced to have with one of those nagging Aunts during a gathering while I was in a room feeding my toddler.
As a mother of a daughter, since her birth, I have been hearing about direct and indirect references to her future marriage. Yes, you heard it right – people are already thinking that far! It is appalling that even in today’s age, many people still tend to think that marriage is like the ultimate destination of this journey of life and without it life isn’t complete, be it in case of a man or a woman. As we know, it doesn’t end here and then we have to have kids to feel ‘more’ complete.
I personally do believe in the institution of marriage and that’s the reason I got hitched. I married because I wanted to legally wed the man I love and not to follow the so called rule book of the society. But, marriage, for me, is far from being the be all and end all of life. And just because I believe in it, I cannot presume that my daughter will too.
I want to talk to my daughter about living every moment of life and enjoying it to the fullest. I want to talk to her about being sensitive to others’ feelings and caring about them. I want to talk to her about being open and honest in her every relationship, and not pile on baggage. I want to talk to her about respecting everyone including her own self. I want to talk to her about self-acceptance and to focus on continuing to evolve as a person. I want to talk to her about being a responsible citizen of the country. I want to talk to her about pursuing her passions and exploring the world. I want to talk to her about being strong and independent.
In all this, do I want to talk to her about marriage? Yes of course, but only from a neutral, unbiased perspective without painting a rosy and dreamy picture – no prince charming, no larger than life expectations but what it truly means to live with a person under the same roof. I will trust her to decide for herself whether in life she wants to take the plunge or not. If not marrying really means loneliness and that’s her choice, so be it. She would be adult enough then to understand both sides of the coin and I will let her follow her instincts.
The reason I chose to write about this topic is that I do not want people to talk about marriage as a given when it comes to my child. The moment we start saying “when you marry” instead of “if you marry”, we are compelling our kids to infer that marriage is an inevitable part of life that has to happen someday, which is not true.
As they grow, some might question us about such traditions and apply their own mind to take decisions. But unfortunately, some might just grow up to presuppose that they have to marry, like it has been the case with many in our generation.
Statistics clearly indicate that in India, there is a significant percentage of married folks who acquired that marital status only because everyone said it was the right thing to do or because their peers were getting married. No prizes for guessing how detrimental this can be at times to the growth of a relationship.
On many occasions, I have read forwarded posts floating around on social media that say things like “Raise your son well because you are raising someone’s future husband and father.” While I appreciate the intent of such posts, I strongly disagree with the message being conveyed. Why can’t we simply say “Raise your kids well because we ought to raise good humans.”?
I don’t care whether my daughter gets married or remains single, whether she wants to bear a child or adopt or not rear any at all, as long as she values the relationships in her life and understands commitment. Whether her choices in this matter will be tough for me to accept is something I cannot predict, but that is my problem and I will not let it affect her decision in any way.
Editors’ note: 11th October was The International Day Of The Girl Child.
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Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
I did my engineering in computer Science and went on to do MBA in systems
Cool….Anupama, you have nailed it precisely. Many a times I had wondered and bemused at the idea of marriage….is it for child bearing, for taking of the elderly and cooking for them, is it making the woman do the housemaid’s work in the name of giving ‘her life and protection’. Is it for the husband to fend for all the expenses of the wife, kids and parents, is he an ATM whose values are not checked before marriage and just his pay check.
Though people say that you need to some person to grow old with, it seems more of a burden and irritant (as shown in many sexist jokes of losing freedom after marriage and the man suddenly becoming an alcoholic unable to bear the stress created by familial burden…oops, a woman does not have that burden, because she is not earning and hence cannot drink).
I realised after my marriage that I had a tough time fitting in because I was swaying between the phantom of ideal wife,daughter in law and mother, and being my own self. The realisation that there is a need to break the stereotype of ‘ideals’ and live life for its own sake, is a good one, on which I am still working on. But through that realisation I promised myself to bring up the next generation into a better human than for any other purpose.
All the best to you and write more such lovely thoughts.
Thanks a ton for taking out time to read my post and for sharing your thoughts. I completely relate to and agree with every word you wrote. Hope together we all can bring about a change for the future generations.
Totally agree, marriage is considered as the ultimate destination just like some universal law. I have seen parents saying that daughters need to get married as not even the Raja – Maharajas have let their daughters with her. Daughters are considered as a “amanat”.
That’s true Ruchita. Thank you for reading and commenting on my article.
I agree with you Anupama, this is an important topic especially in the Indian context where marriage is viewed as a given default long term goal for all ! Marriage most certainly must not be seen as a definite goal that we tutor our kids (especially girls) to ultimately aim towards. It should be viewed as just one of the many life choices one may make and that too only after careful deliberation and thought, and only if one so desires. While marriage can certainly be a great source of support and companionship for many couples, it is the individuals that make a marriage so, not the institution itself. It is also the individuals that can make a marriage hell. So like you said we must focus on empowering the next generation and making them capable, good human beings first. They may decide whether they want to remain single or marry based on their desires and wishes but if we train them to be independent and compassionate as individuals we will always be certain of one thing -that they will be good human beings above all else, wherever they are, whoever they are with or even if they choose to be alone.
Well said Sonia. Totally agree. Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my article.
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i wish my mother would also think like you.i really want to stay single.but my mother is not agreeing this.she is not even talking to me because i dont want to marry.i think i have to marry becoz they wish so.i dont know what will be my future.is marriage really necessary to stay happy?
Please do not give in to the pressure. Think about yourself. I understand it is hard to fight with loved ones. Marriage is not at all necessary to stay happy. If you do not feel ready, do not take the plunge. I suggest share examples of people who are single yet happy with your mother. Try to calmly explain yourself to her. I hope it works. Hugs.
Finally the topic of my choice. Mam you stated in the most simple and beautiful way. Especially that line “I don’t care whether my daughter gets married or remains single, whether she wants to bear a child or adopt or not rear any at all, as long as she values the relationships in her life and understands commitment.” Admirable thought and a gutsy thinking.
Thank you so much Pallavi
Seriously from the moment we are born, we are pushed in the direction of becoming “ideal” wives and daughters-in-law instead of strong and independent women. It will take hell lot of mothers like you and mine to change to change this societal thinking.
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