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In India, we very proudly claim that we treat our daughter-in-law just like our daughters. But they are still made to feel like outsiders, the author says.
In India, we very proudly claim that we treat our daughters-in-law just like our daughters. But they are still made to feel like outsiders, the author says.
I feel each daughter (is it?)-in-law asks herself a few of these questions when she enters her new family. And even after, almost every single day, she wonders where her home is. Where is it that she can sit and breathe in peace without the stress of being judged? And where is the place she can be herself?
It is about being a part of a ‘home’– a feeling that you belong to a new family and the new home ‘belongs’ to you too!
“We treat our daughter-in-law like our daughter!” But does it really happen? Is India really that tough a country for daughters-in-law?
In marriage, the girl’s parents lose a daughter but never gain a son. On the other hand, boy’s family gains a maid and a punching bag without having to lose their son.
The Indian society ingrains in a girl from a very young age that she is the one who has to adjust and accommodate to her in-laws and husband and their needs. However, she doesn’t get to experience the same from them.
Women are advised to adjust, to learn to cook and to basically give in to all the demands of their in-laws. While it is natural to take time to adjust to a new place, the society expects the bride to adjust as soon as she can. As an Indian bahu, one is expected to know everything and anything right from the beginning.
No matter how beautiful, intelligent or smart you are, you will be treated as someone who knows nothing. And as someone who should just thank her lucky stars to have been married to God (her husband) and be a part of the prestigious family.
Meanwhile the husband and his parents will discuss things in the daughter-in-law’s absence. They do so because she may not understand “their family issues.” The daughter-in-law is always the outsider.
The onus of taking care of elderly parents is always on the sons. This is mostly because the parents prefer it to be that way. And this means that the daughters-in-law are automatically expected to follow suit, irrespective of them having adjusted to the new home. Or of the fact that they might not want to stay with the in laws.
A daughter-in-law’s opinion never matters and is never considered since she comes with that tag of being an outsider.
Daughters-in-law come from families that have their own value systems and beliefs that aren’t always the same as that of the groom’s family. It takes a lot of maturity to understand that there can be different ways of leading life and to give your approval to the diversity that matters. However, this maturity is never expected from the in-laws since they have the simple excuse of, “This doesn’t happen in our family”.
The in-laws are never ready to accept the changes that life demands. If you are a stay-at-home wife or mother, then you are someone who is wasting the husband’s hard earned money in beauty parlours and on shopping.
In case you work, then why do you work? Don’t you love your child? You take these statements with a pinch of salt and get over it, it is okay. However, if you speak up, be prepared to hear, “Didn’t your mother teach you anything?”
The bottom line basically is that you can never be as good a cook as your mother-in-law. Neither can you be as good a daughter-in-law as their daughter.
On the one hand for a number of things you are considered an outsider and your opinion holds no value. At the same time, when it comes to taking care of the house and house-keeping, you have to take the ownership.
In most of the cases, parents feel separation anxiety from their son. That’s the sole reason of not making you an integral part of the family. And giving you the feeling of outsider as and when opportunity arises.
You can treat your daughter-in-law LIKE your daughter but never the same. That’s the irony!
And that feeling of being an “outsider” will never go.
Gender Equality Advocate, TEDx Speaker, Social Reformer, Sociopreneur, Human Rights Activist, Pad woman of Odisha , Writer, Motivational Speaker, Art connoisseur...
An impenitent, non-conformist, adventurous, boho soul and an admirer of life. Loves my Indian read more...
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I’d shared my thoughts on her problematic speech in an earlier article. So, I’ll share why I felt Kulkarni’s apology post was more damaging than her speech.
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