A couple of months ago, I remember seeing the promo for a new show called Bade Bhaiyya ki Dulhania on Sony TV.
In the scene a family is sitting at the dining table and the daughter has secured 33 per cent marks in some exam.
The father indulgently asks her what she wants to do or what her life plans are, to which she replies that she just wants to be happy.
|In the serial Bade Bhaiyya ki Dulhania, when asked what the daughter wants to do, she said she just wanted to be happy. (Photo credit: Google)|
Somehow that scene stayed in my head because I just wondered if the father would still be smiling had his son said the same thing.
In a typical Indian family, he would have been blasted and told how important it is to stand on his two feet, how he must assume responsibility, how a successful career and earning a good amount of money was tantamount to happiness, etc.
He would have probably got a slap; which is how it’s always been. But, to really empower women, what we need is for each family to actually be giving this lecture to their daughters as well.
Only when daughters are also told, in no uncertain terms, that they too must think of a career first before marriage and how they have to earn enough to support themselves, will the term financial independence acquire real meaning.
Take a small example: how many parents ask their daughters who earn money to contribute to house expenses? While it is taken for granted that sons will, daughters are told to save their money.
Instead, daughters should be forced to contribute to expenses as that makes them feel a sense of responsibility, and ensures they are counted among the decision-makers in the family.
If this is practised before marriage, the same daughter will ask for and ensure the tradition is continued once she is married.
Or, for example, take how daughters are never forced to learn to manage their own finances. The men in their life almost always manage the insurances, the savings, the fixed deposits, the mutual funds. Why?
All it requires is some time and effort to either read up on it online or get a consultant to explain the details.
All girls should be deciding for themselves how much they want to save and where.
It’s very important that as parents, we instil this sense of ownership of their money in them so they know how money grows, why it’s important to save, and so on.
Also, I’ve heard it said so many times that I’m beyond being furious. Many parents tell their daughters to choose certain careers based on the convenience or work-life balance it brings.
For example, being a teacher. Parents will often say it’s a great job because you have time for the home and for the kids.
In effect, the job itself is treated as simply a pastime that also pays money. Not only does this discredit the profession, it also ensures that teachers remain underpaid because they don’t negotiate or fight hard enough for raises.
And, the working hours and work they bring home is no longer less than any other profession, but the pay gap is huge.
Also, God forbid, your daughter’s marriage breaks up, a teacher’s salary is not even enough for her to set up home on her own.
She has no choice but to go back to her parents. This, sometimes, keeps girls in bad marriages because they don’t have the means to walk out. If she earned enough, she could.
This is not to say that you should discourage your daughter from pursuing teaching as a profession if she wants to, but don’t push her into a profession you think is “easy”.
Let her work hard and earn well. Let her battle it out in the corporate rat race. Let her toughen up.