Three Most Common Parenting Mistakes When Raising Daughters – ZenParent Blogathon Winner

Ha! This is something that I can totally relate to. My family has been so fortunate that we have always had an overdose of girls, generation after generation. As a child, I could never make sense of those “Save the girl child “  campaigns that air on television  because  my world was my hometown Omalloor, a small village in Kerala and I can very proudly say that living there, such a thing was unimaginable. By the way, No, I have not got the topic wrong.  I started off with a conscious mention of female infanticide. Though we are ashamed of this atrocity, and would go all out engaging in relentless debates against it (like I just did ), somewhere I realize that most of us are impartial to our daughters.  We may not be taking their life before coming into this world, but many a times we do not let them live their life after coming into this world. I would probably call that female adolescenticide . (Pardon my vocabulary. When Tom Cruise ‘ jumped on the couch in excitement of his new girlfriend and that could make a new idiom in the dictionary, I hope the English Language stewards are listening to this one too)  .  Teenage-that’s when we consciously or subconsciously start passing on that long list of do’s and don’ts which we  inherited from our nannies and grannies. And of course, we would contribute to the legacy too.

That brings me to the first and most common mistake we make while raising our daughters which defines the way they are supposed to do the smallest of things. When I say smallest of things, it really does mean the SMALLEST of things – Take an example of how should she sit? The instructions would be broken down to the way she can sit at home and the way she should sit outside home. The way she sits at home sub-divided into three categories: One- when she is alone, two-when she is with family or friends, and three- when extended family is around. I’m not done yet and I know you are already irritated reading this.  What makes you think your child would love to hear this and would follow these too. She is an individual whom God created with a unique  way or sitting, standing, talking and walking. You are no one to try and change that. Yes, the basic courtesies like getting up when an elder person comes etc,  should be taught at a young age, both to girls and boys. All I am saying is that there is no requirement for these extra classes for your daughter. If at all there are some do’s and dont's, she would figure it out herself.  This can’t be excused as parents being over protective.  Our intention while doing this is to ensure that she gets a ‘good girl certificate’ from the society.  If you are a good tutor, and she manages to get this tag,  that’s just a trap which will force her to live with a lesser voice throughout her life. Now, let’s realize on one side we are arguing on how  society should change and on the other, acting contrary where you can actually make a change. You, me, him, her and them make the society and the change has to start from YOU.

An individual needs to develop  some basic skill set to be able to live independently. I have heard my aunt say, if you know how to make your roti and chai, you are a raja. That means not just the rani, the raja also needs to know how to cook. That brings me to the second and another common mistake that we make- teaching our daughters some of the basics and disregarding the others. While I understand that man and woman are complimentary and there can be certain things where one may be naturally better than the other, the point here is survival. You teach the basics so that they can survive in any situation. What’s the point if you daughter knows how to prepare a full meal but can’t fix the fused bulbs?  Why is it that girls will always go to music and dance classes while boys will go for karate and cricket? It should be interest and not gender that should be given priority while making these choices. Yes, off late scarred by all the news spree, we are teaching our daughters karate and kung fu as a means of self-defense. But  that’s not just it. We need to equip her with all the necessary basics so that she will grow up not only be the ideal wife and mother,  but also to a wonderful citizen who can be of help to her  fellow  citizens.

The third mistake that I have observed quite commonly is to make your daughters feel inferior. Rather – I would say indirectly putting into their head that they are an inferior gender. We may not do this evidently –but I strongly feel that day in and day out we would do or say something that will create the gender inequality seed into your child’s brain. Say for example, the front seat of the car is mostly reserved for men. I totally get this when the man is the eldest member of the family. But why does your dad-in law sit in the front seat, when the grandmother of the family is sitting at the back. I agree, this is not a big deal. It's just a matter of comfort and convenience-anyone can sit in front or back. But even there, we are discriminating. I believe children learn more from what they see you doing, than what you tell them to do. The message that they get from the little things you do, would make a long way in shaping up who they are and how they think.  We do not even spare a woman in a saree covered from top to bottom if her neckline is a little too low, but we are absolutely cool with our men roaming around shirtless even when guests are home. I am not promoting Adam teasing here, but this is the fact. Never give your daughter any advice or instruction if you do not know why that is so. Just because you have heard or been told to behave in a certain way because you are a female that does not mean that’s right. It's time you break those conventions. It has to make perfect logical sense, else let us not enforce it on our children. If you do, I’m sure they will get the point. So next time you actually want your daughter not to go in jeans to church or temple, try telling her baby that’s casual wear and hence we should not wear that, and make sure your son follows the same too.

I realize I have talked a lot about raising sons as well along with the daughters, now that’s not a coincidence. Before I wrap up, remember that every mistake we make while raising our daughters is a mistake that will affect our sons too. Because he too is watching the show and hearing the lecture and you are seeding inputs which will go on to frame his idea of how his perfect partner should be.

This article won the first prize at ZenParent Blogathon. It has been authored by Serene Sarah George.