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Did your parents impose several rules upon you? Or did they let you grow up on your own terms? Here’s some mothers revealing the advice they wouldn’t give their daughters. “Don’t sit like this.” “Don’t talk back.” “Don’t raise your voice.” These are the things that girls are usually told while they grow up. However, with changing times, parenting techniques too are changing. Parents are challenging the age-old norms of telling their daughters to behave in a certain manner and letting them be their own person instead of following archaic and patriarchal norms.
Girls, especially in India, are told not to ask too many questions, to keep quiet, to learn to cook, they are asked to keep their opinions to themselves and not make a lot of noise. However, its 2019 and parents have finally woken up from their deep slumber and are all for letting their daughters voice their opinions and to speak up, ask questions and basically be who they are.
After having been told what to do for such a long time, we decided to ask our readers via Whatsapp, what is that one piece of advice they wouldn’t give their daughters.
Ranging from marriage not being a compulsion to the taboos surrounding periods, here are the best answers:
Just hearing the word, ‘period’ brings shudders to several people simply because of the taboos our society has attached to it. And discussion periods with dads, well that’s something totally unthought of in our country.
However, according to Anshi Srivastava from Gurgaon, the one thing she wouldn’t tell her daughter was that periods are to be discussed only with women and not with men. She says, “I wouldn’t tell her that periods should not be discussed with her father or any other male member of the family, even if it her younger brother.”
Similarly, Valleru Anusharani from Nellur says that though there are several taboos surrounding periods that lead to the exclusion women from a number of aspects of the social and cultural life, she will tell her daughter that periods are but a natural phenomenon and there is nothing dirty or impure about them. She said, “I will tell my daughter that menstruation is nothing but a very normal biological phenomenon and make her understand that we have the power of procreation only because of this virtue.”
She also said that she would tell her daughter that there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about menstruation and sexual reproduction.
As young girls, we are raised on the idea of having a Prince Charming and of being “Mumma’s Perfect Little Girl” or something on the same lines. But times are changing and so are the parenting techniques, parents rarely tell their daughters to wait for Prince Charming and instead they are telling them to go and be their own saviour! At the same time, they are also not setting up expectations for the girls to be any kind of perfect or angelic.
Parents have started celebrating their daughters’ imperfections rather than helping them attain the societal norms of perfect or even angelic.
Agreeing with this, Sheen Skaria from New Delhi says that telling daughters that they are perfect and angelic only mounts the pressure on them and can also lead to damaging the child’s self-esteem. She says that telling her daughter, “You are my perfect little angel will set up expectation of perfection and make her less likely to try new things.”
Fairy tales also set up similar expectations of a prince or someone coming and saving them instead of the girls saving their own selves. With parents raising strong, independent women, these norms of prince charming and damsels in distress are slowly being thrown out of the society. Abhilasha, from Jodhpur agrees and she says, “I wouldn’t tell her any fairy tales because she should not dream of a prince coming to her rescue.” She says, she’d rather tell he daughter stories of real women who overcame their struggles and adversities to become their own heroines.
“Be aristocratic, not autocratic!Be independent, not insensitive!Be a strong woman with head held high not to prove you are a woman but because you are a human being,” says Naina Parekh from Mumbai. Echoing similar thoughts are several other mothers who believe that their daughters need to be a little more assertive as opposed to the stereotypical idea of them being passive and quiet and someone who tolerates anything. Typically, girls are expected to be quiet and tolerant of all that is thrown their way; however, parents are now itching to teach their daughters that the norms have changed. they prefer their daughters to be more outgoing and outspoken rather than shy and calm. According to Nilshree Yelurkar, though she doesn’t have a daughter, but if she did have one, she would teach her self-defence and would “let her live her life on her own terms, without worrying about the typical set norms of a society for a girl.”
Agreeing with this, Tulika from Pune says she wouldn’t tell her daughter to, “come home before it is dark.” Echoing similar thoughts was Zainab from Chennai who says that she would, “Never tell her daughter to adjust where she doesn’t want to.”
Climbing trees, riding bikes, liking the colour blue, being strong these are generally attributed to boys and girls are often told they can’t do certain things because of their gender. However, with changing times, parents’ thoughts on these are changing too and they are letting their daughters break several gender norms set on them. Right from climbing trees to riding bikes in the mountains, women today are doing everything they were once forbidden from doing.
Though she doesn’t have a daughter, if and when she does, Sunidhi Dixit from Navi Mumbai wouldn’t tell her, “you can’t do it because you are a girl. Which is something I faced a lot in my life.”
Parenting techniques and parents’ thoughts might be changing but we still have a long way to go till we achieve the golden goal of treating women like equals. But until then, here’s to the things our parents haven’t imposed upon us!
Picture credits: Pexels
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A journalist by profession, I have a keen interest in gender issues, social issues, wildlife,
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