Parenting is a difficult task. Some tend to do it the way they have sub-consciously learned from their parents, some try out the things their parents never had, some tend to follow books on parenting, some on the basis of some fixed notions and so on. Some parents are very strict disciplinarians and some just tend to spoil their kids badly. And then some are somewhere in between. Some families have the dominating father-docile mom combination whereas some have the henpecked husband-dominating woman combination. And then some are just rightly balanced. But the point of my post is not to discuss parenting or types of parents. The point of my post is to discuss the effect of parental strictness on kids especially daughters. Why daughters? Because I don’t have much knowledge of parents’ behavior towards sons. And because I being a daughter myself can relate more to other daughters of the world. Also the incidents that inspired me to write this post happened with daughters.
# Incident 1 :- The mother was not only strict but also ambitious and competitive. Her three daughters were always egged on to achieve more and more. The youngest was the best in studies and so the most pressurized one. By nature she was a shy and reserved girl. A private tutor used to come and teach her maths. She was in first year of Engineering. Soon she was totally antagonized towards her parents and insisted on getting married to this guy. She accused her sisters of hiring contract killers to kill her boyfriend. After much more drama, she got married and went away breaking all contact with her family. The mother declared her dead for their family.
# Incident 2 :- The father was very strict and conservative. Love was a taboo. A daughter got caught talking on mobile surreptitiously. She ran and threw away the mobile. Four days later she left home without a word. Family reported missing person to police and searched high and low. After 3 months, she called up to inform she is married and at xyz place. Few weeks later she comes to visit with her husband. And the twist in the tale is he is not the same guy she had ran away for!! And he has no credentials or solid background.
# Incident 3 :- The father is a very busy man and detached towards family. Not to mention very stingy. No one is allowed to have friends or movies or junk food or music or pocket money or cosmetics. The youngest daughter is made fun of for being poor in studies. One day family comes to know she had forged signatures, withdrawn money, duplicated jewelry and kept real ones as mortgage. She had spent 7 lakhs somewhere. She runs away from home but is caught afterwards.
There are many more incidents I know about the acts daughters commit in contrary to strictness and conservative atmosphere at home. By conservative atmosphere I mean rules like no talking to guys, no jeans or skirts, no outings, no magazines, no tv etc. So what is it that causes this act of so called “rebellion” from the child’s point of view and stupidity from mine? It is maybe the pent-up resentment in their hearts, boiling since years or the vulnerability to rely on or to fall in love with someone who offers sympathy and a shoulder to cry on; even if he is a smooth talker and sometimes a fraud. I feel the reason behind these drastic acts is the over discipline or shall I say misguided discipline by parents. I think we all agree that discipline is a part and parcel of good parenting. But the right amount and the right direction is necessary. Mere stifling of teenage emotions or depriving of pleasures of youth like movies or outings or basic rights of a human like friendship is wrong. I don’t think it helps in building character or it serves any other constructive purpose. Seeing other girls use cosmetics or wear jeans or hearing them discuss the latest Shah Rukh Khan movie would naturally trigger the feeling of rebellion and many times this feeling goes out of control. A crush on a guy causes waves of unknown emotions but due to the home atmosphere, one is unable to discuss it even with their own siblings and to see things clearly. That just makes one prone to commit mistakes in decision making, sometimes life changing ones and sometimes fatal ones. Yes of course many daughters do many things in spite of a free atmosphere at home but I believe the reasons for those are different. It maybe the curiosity for the unknown or peer pressure or simple immaturity of youth.
What I would like to say to parents of daughters is that its just not right to think that as we have given birth to this child, we own it and it must live according to us. Its just not right to assume that everything we decide is good for the child as we being parents can never think of anything bad for her. Wearing jeans or cosmetics or talking to guys is not going to make her run away or get spoiled or make her less marriageable. If she has that eloping or falling in love streak in her, she will do it anyway. Being strict might just aggravate it. She may have the sense not to do it in normal conditions. And if she does, I think renouncing your own child or severing ties and saying “she is dead to us from now” is not a real parent should do. The child must know that in her flight, in her pursuit of shiny things, in her failures ; she has a nest to fall back on. That no matter where she goes, whether she is married or divorced or widowed; she has a home to return to and that the doors of that place are never closed for her.