I am the mother of a son and a daughter and me and my husband have always tried to raise both equally. I hope we continue to do so even when my daughter is in her teens. There are many mistakes, knowingly and unknowingly, that Indian parents commit when raising their daughters. I would give my perspective from the point of view of Indian parents here. If I had to pinpoint any three mistakes, I would point the following:
- Being overprotective and paranoid. Given the incidents of rape and molestation recently, the parents have become extremely paranoid in terms of their daughters’ safety. While I do understand the reason for their worry, yet sometimes parents become overprotective instead of being simply protective. Many a times the daughters are not allowed to attend school trips, parties, picnics, or even if they are the parents insist on accompanying them! We cannot take away the fun from our daughters’ life. They are entitled to enjoy with their friends, go for picnics and trips, be independent. Of course, they should call or inform their parents about their whereabouts (applicable for sons also). Later on in life, such parents don’t allow their daughters to study or work either any other part of India or abroad. Parents should encourage their daughters to speak up if they face any such situation, be fearless and independent, be alert.
- Second mistake is making the girls ready for “marriage” since childhood. Times are changing, still the Indian parents have the thought process that marriage is the ultimate goal for any girl. Since childhood girls are taught to adjust, not be stubborn or temperamental, be sacrificing, not to be too vocal about their likes or dislikes, be coy and shy..why..because all this will help her to be a good wife and daughter-in-law!! The qualities of being compassionate and understanding should be inculcated in both sons and daughters and not just daughters!! The girls are as human as the boys! Also, daughters should be encouraged to study and be independent. The parents should give the daughters wings to fly, to think about their careers just as they do for their sons! The daughters should be allowed to exercise their choice as to when and whom to get married to, at the right time.
- Giving importance to physical beauty. Time and again I come across this question in various forums as to how remove hair from the body of a 2-month-old girl, how to protect the daughter from tanning and getting dark! Sadly, media also emphasizes the need to be fair, slim, tall and what not only for the girls! A girl is only desirable if she is “beautiful” as per the societal norms. The parents from a young age insist that the daughter eat less, not play in sun, grow her hair, take care of her skin so that later there is no problem when she is of marriageable age!! The parents should encourage their daughters to be healthy, eat well, play sports, be “bindaas”, be vocal about their likes and dislikes. A daughter should be made confident in her own skin. If she is confident, nobody would have the right to judge her on the basis of her physical attributes.
Parenting is never easy. Parents also do commit mistakes but the endeavor of realizing those follies and working on them to be a better parent should be constant