Parents, Daughters and Over Discipline

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.

42 thoughts on “Parents, Daughters and Over Discipline

  1. Thanks Reema, you have tried to make a very important point here which is simple enough for everybody to understand but difficult to follow, girls back home in India are still treated as a different species alltogether specially girls in there late teens. There is an unknown fear of the outside world which is anyways inherent in girls coming from small towns and surprisingly Convent all girls schools. It is really hard for them to cope up with the idea of getting exposed to a large mix of girls and boys who are not afraid or sceptical to be pally with each other.

    I would say that its not only a duty of the parents but also of there peers to make them feel comfortable and to help them address all there apprehensions. Girls go through different phases in life both emotionally and physically, they need the right kind of support to pull them up, for some people it comes from within and some seek it outside, lets try to do our bit in giving some 00mph.

    Reema: Welcome to my blog! yes parents and peers should be understanding and approachable. Keep visiting!

  2. sharad’s comment sums it up – everything is about balance. parents often forget this when raising their children, whether a girl or a boy, because they love their kids so much that they think they know best what’s best for them.

    i think many parents do not really know how much their kids know because they don’t really exactly communicate with their kids. when children question their parents’ authority or reasoning for a decision, parents often give inadequate rationales or just use the ‘because i say so’ excuse.

    while as parents you are responsible for your children, the fact remains that it is still their lives you’re trying to ‘rule’ over in this sense. children would probably be more accepting of rules if they are allowed to voice their opinions and come up with a compromise on their part.

    if that fails, parents should also remember that children need to make their own mistakes sometimes. just because you do truly know better, does not mean it’ll always turn out that way. who knows, maybe some children will handle the same situation you’ve been through differently.

    Reema: Raising a girl is usually different in India. There is more restriction and domination. Rest I agree with your opinion on parental behavior.

  3. As others before me say, it definitely is about balance. What might appear to be strict to one, might look like dictatorship to another. The extremes are always usually obvious. As a parent, single one at that, I am afraid that I might spoil A. At the same time, I am afraid he might look at me as a dictator with everyone around advocating the “spare the rod” philosophy to the hilt. I don’t advocate hitting the kid, but putting the kid in her/his place when young is necessary. As they saying in tamil goes, “once the kid grows over your shoulder, she/he should be treated as a friend.” Though I should say that unless parents are one of the extremes, people should keep their judgments to themselves. One never knows what sort of parent one turns out to be or the reasons for their parenting style. It is easy to talk about parenting of others kids. I sometimes do the mistake myself…think my brother is wrong in his style. When some one says something about mine, then I kick myself for even thinking that. Who am I to say how my brother should bring up his kid as long as there is no abuse involved?!

    I will say one thing though Reema…parents can never really disown their kids. Their words in anger might say ” you are dead to me” but they will always be there for their offspring – exceptions to all cases are always there.

    In my own case, P’s parents did the “you are dead” dialogue, but were always concerned about him. They tried to talk sense into him about A (though they had at a point even refused to see a pic of his). It is P who is obstinate and is pushing his son away. His loss I would say. He was brought up really strict; so ideally would you not expect such a person to shower immeasurable love on his son? The mind works in weird ways in all.

    No one owns anyone else….whatever the relationship. Understanding & communication is essential on both parts – the parents & the kids. As sulz says “Because I say so” is not quite right; neither is “You won’t understand because of the generation gap” type of an attitude on part of children either.

    You know what? Everyone will turn out fine….even the most screwed up ones whatever the reasons.

    I guess the long comment’s point is that it is not only parenting styles to blame in these situations. Sorry if my views don’t necessarily conform with yours.

    Reema: I have mentioned in my post that there must be other factors like predisposition to being a rebel or being disobedient etc but parental over discipline may have precipitated the acts!! Its ok, nothing to be sorry about. Each to his own view. Anyway I m not blaming parents alone. I always believe the fault is on both sides in every case..even if its in 60:40 or 80:20 ratio.

  4. Yeah .. Super post !!! … Took me deep down in the memory lane ..

    Well, I was a very studious, introvert and shy kind of guy during schooling .. My parents were never strict nor conservative .. They allowed me to do whatever I wanted to and gave me all the freedom from money to vehicle to expensive stationary to best tutions to I mean everything provided I study well and get good marks.. I never misused this freedom and was a very good and obedient child ..

    The only thing which I complained all the time was the comparison that they made of myself with one of my dearest cousins in studies .. he was genuinely brighter than me in studies ( and in skin color too !!) .. he used to get around 92% while I used to get around 90% marks .. but then the comparison always started .. He is he and I am I but they never understood it .. But I would say I had the best parents in the world ..

    Reema: Thanks! Oh I used to get so mad at any comparison. I dont know why I simply dislike any comparisons πŸ™‚

  5. You have raised a very important and extremely common issue. And I agree with you on almost all counts. But the thing is, over-freedom can be equally, if not more dangerous. The current generation parents are, more often than not, less strict than parents of our generation. The whole point is that the children should trust their parents and vice versa.
    For Parents : Children can’t always be wrong and they can’t always be right.
    For Children : They can’t always be right and parents can’t always be wrong.
    I do believe that a decent level of discipline is necessary, specially in teenage as it is the most vulnerable.

    Reema: Yes as I said some parents tend to spoil their kids badly. And I feel not only today’s parents are less strict but today’s kids are less obedient too. Teenage is a sensitive age..not only discipline but also understanding is required.

  6. The worst thing is few parents get their daughters married so soon when they’re still studying and have no knowledge of oustside world.

    Fantastic post. I’ve submitted it to Blogbharti πŸ™‚

    Reema: Yes and within one year many such girls become mothers!! Thank you so much!

  7. ” We can never ever want to do anything to harm you”
    I am not sure whether everything is for the best though in this case.

    I think there has to be a balance, and parents are so scared about daughters especially that they try to protect and do everything for her. After a point, this too leads to rebellions!

    Reema: I feel parents should not think that “We can never ever want to do anything to harm you”. Yes over protectiveness also leads to rebellions.

  8. Balance post. I did have comparitively strict parents but it was the same yardstick for both me and my sis. So we were like partners in crime :).

    Had seen extreme cases but most of the times as you had mentioned it had boomeranged. Its better if parents stop thinking their kids are something they own[like house, land,car etc,.,] and understand children too have their wishes and aspirations. Hopefully the current generation of parents would be more understanding.

    Reema: Welcome to my blog! The current generation parents are being very lenient too which is being destructive to the kids. I feel kids are nowadays becoming more rude day by day. Keep visiting.

  9. I do feel that too much strictness results in such incidents and those incidents were indeed sad.
    I grew up in a very liberal atmosphere where we were allowed to bring boys home and wear whatever we wanted and well we did all of this. In fact different boys used to drop me home from college on a regular basis and my mother grinned and said, ‘as long as it’s a different boy everyday we don’t need to be worried about you running away!” Things like that. But as we lived in a conservative society, there were people who gossiped. And my friend and me (who came from a liberal background too) used to resent the fact that we were the subject of gossip when actually we were so innocent! None of us even had a boyfriend (though we wanted to!) we had not been out on dates, did not smoke or drink, not that I am saying these things should not be done. But well, as I said we were so innocent! And there were girls who used to go around covered from head to toe in sarees and had slept with like 10 guys even though they were just 17! I am not saying they shouldn’t, but this is how our stupid society is. So ever since I was a child, I have hated this hypocrisy of our society and I am glad that my parents were with us through thick and thin!
    I got even more freedom than my brother, simply because I took it! There were no restrictions on either of us… and I being the bolder one always did what I wanted. If I was a rebel, I rebelled against society, never against my parents. My parents in fact I think in a way egged me on, particularly my dad! He used to love to tell his elder brother (an uncle I was close to) that he trusted me completely!
    And I never betrayed his trust. When I got serious about a boy, the first person I told was my dad. And I actually told him that I was serious but I was not sure if the boy was! And my dad gave me some tips on how to handle the situation. My father was always there for me in any emotional crises and so was my mom.
    Sorry to go on about myself Reema, but your post just brought up these memories.

    Reema: No sorry!! It was nice to know about your life dear.

  10. In all the three scenarios the daughter who made the mistake was blamed. What about the daughters who stood there quiet looking at what was happening with their sibling. I agree that parents need to strike a balance but the siblings HAVE to be supportive. If a girl does not find the support she is looking for from her parents she will obviously look to the second most important people in her life after parents which is her sisters or brothers.

    BTW, great post. It can happen with both boys as well as girls. Boys usually run away, start stealing, do drugs, etc etc….

    Reema: Yes the siblings must be supportive so that atleast their siblings could confide in them before taking any drastic step. In all the three cases who I know closely, there was never much attachment among siblings. Thanks!

  11. Now, that was an interesting post alright!!!

    Parents need to know where to draw the line, and where to let go….

    let each one live life their way, but be a guiding force!! πŸ™‚

    btw, cool header

    Reema: Thanks and yes thats my point. πŸ™‚

  12. Being strict never helps…as far as i have seen, girls/boys whose parents who are strict are never the same they are inside their home … more strictness only makes them break all the shackles easily ..

    but these days most parents aren’t that strict like not wearing jeans ,not talking to guys ..

    and i guess its both wrong in the part of mom and daughter ..eloping is not justified until the circumstances are extreme ..
    and as u said declaring a daughter dead after she runs away is very wrong thing too …

    Reema: Yes I have seen many girls change their personalities 180 degrees after coming to hostel. Girls from very conservative homes end up wearing mini skirts by the time they are in final year! Trust me there are still many parents in small towns who dislike girls wearing jeans or talking to boys.

  13. huh another thought provoking post from u Reema…and the incidents u mentioned, even i have seen such incidents happening during my teenage days. and as everybody said its all about balance!!

    Reema: Thanks! yes its all about balance in parenting.

  14. A thought provoking and very balanced write up. I so much agree with you.

    I have spent 4 yrs of my life in a place called “Banasthali vidyapith” it is an all girls residential college. It had a very restricted environment and there were girls from Bihar, NE, UP etc who had done their schooling there & were finishing college as well.

    Their interaction with guys was NIL. Once in a year we used to go for a picnic to Jaipur. You should have seen the way these girls used to react to guys. It used to border to embarrassment for us.

    I always believe that everything is good but in moderation and within limits. I guess the time has come when parents should believe in letting go and am very proud & thankful of my parents because there never has been restriction of any kind on me. πŸ™‚

    Loved the post!!!

    Reema: Thanks! Over protectiveness does leave many girls totally awkward and unprepared to fend for themselves in real world. They remain ignorant of basic things and are dependent on the men in their families.

  15. The world has changed and we need to move on with it. It is not good to follow the age old traditional parenting methods of being strict and disciplined. Discipline like you said is necessary in right amount. But when a daughter is an adult, she has to be treated that way. A parent should be more like a friend with her. Good post.

    PS: I see you are trying new methods to increase your subscriber count. Let me know if it works πŸ™‚ I will try it too.

    Reema: Thanks!! Hehehe I am sucker for shiny and fancy designs πŸ™‚ So spiced up my side bar. I will let you know surely πŸ˜‰

  16. I think its the same even for sons… Just that for daughters, parents are more conservative because of the way the society is… Our society makes it difficult for women to survive!!

    Reema: yes the way women are treated in our society makes parents over disciplinary naturally. A girl’s parents are always worried in India.

  17. /*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.*/

    Absolutely true. Many of the wrong decisions are taken due to the lack of guidance and fear of discussing it with our family members. As Nova said it’s the same for sons also.

    But as we can see lot of changes are happening in our society now and I believe that tomorrow will be more satisfying than what it is now πŸ™‚
    Thanks for this thought provoking post πŸ™‚

    Reema: Changes are happening but I cant see parents striking the right balance yet. They are becoming more of the spoiling sorts. The pleasure is all mine. πŸ™‚

  18. I guess thats nothing to do with girl.. I know of boys doing more horrifying things than that cuz of strict parents.. oh yes I do know…

    Reema: Well I only know of girls’ stories as none of the boys in my circle did anything so drastic.

  19. oh yeah! Oxy is right! There are a lot of guys who end up in worse situations becuz of their parents.

    but there are children who get spoiled inspite of how well they are brought up. sometimes too much of pampering also leads to somewhat similar situations.

    What do you have to say about those children who are brought up in boarding schools? Isnt it much more stricter there?

    Reema: Yes its true that too much leniency also leads to similar situations but more often than not, over discipline is the major cause of such rebellions. I cant say anything about kids living in boarding and their incidents or behaviors as I dont know anyone who has lived in boarding.

  20. I have 2 girls and am always over thinking my parenting. I dont want to be her best friend..I am her mom and yet I want her to confide in me. My oldest just turned 9 and we have had some screaming matches already. I am just dreading the teenage years..

    Reema: Ohh mothers,daughters and teenage..deadly combination. All the best!

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  22. Reema, parenting is not only a difficult job but also something which you learn on the job. There are no crash courses and training institutes which teach the right way of parenting. There are factors other than parenting which shape the personality of the child and thus every child has to be dealt in a different way. This is the reason why every child is different even though they might have the same parents.

    Reema: Moreover one gets only one shot at parenting with every individual kid. πŸ™‚ Its not like one can go back and undo mistakes.

  23. with the ability to make children, comes the responsibility to bring them up as worthy individuals… whatever the case be, it boils down to this thing.

    Reema: Hmm but the definition of the correct way of fulfilling that responsibility is different for different parents. And that is what my post is all about πŸ™‚

  24. In colleges where the hostel has a warden, i have seen rebellions. While where there is noone to control, it would be a peaceful place on earth.
    I think same applies, it human tendency to rebel against any force that is trying to hurt/control you. Be it your boss, teacher or parent.

    It would be always good in the parents part to be approachable and be a friend first than enforcing all the rules down on the children.

    Reema: Yes thats what – parents or atleast siblings should be approachable. That would definitely stop children from taking drastic steps.

  25. I read some of the comments above and realised everything has been said. One point I would like to add is, that in India girls’ parents raise their daughters with just one concern, that they should get married at the right time, to the right boy, from the right kind of family…this because they worry about her security.

    I think it is important to realise that marriage is no longer a foolproof way to provide safety for girls. Education and self reliance are. Self reliance requires freedom and self confidence. Self reliance is not just good qualifications and career, but the ability to handle colleagues, society, family etc on their own, how will they learn to survive on their own if we don’t give them freedom?

    I wrote a post on this – http://lifeofanindianhomemaker.blogspot.com/2008/04/how-important-is-it-for-girl-to-get.html

    Reema: Its a very good point you have mentioned here. Over discipline and over protectiveness is a hindrance on the path of self reliance. I will check out your post asap.

  26. Want partly to thank you for commenting on my blog, but also tell you that I follow with great interest this blog. It contains many interesting perspective on the present and it increases my understanding of the outside world. Thank you for that.

    Reema: Welcome to my blog! The pleasure is all mine. Keep reading πŸ™‚

  27. Hello,
    I have an idea for a blog that I would like to discuss with you. A cooperation that I think can be very rewarding. But I would need an e-mail address in order to present it in detail. Or is it better that I describe the detected here in the commentary box?

    Reema: U can mail me at reemablogger@gmail.com

  28. There is one advantage of not eloping or getting married to the guy of your choice – You could always blame the parents later on! πŸ™‚ Jokes apart, I don’t know about parenting, but I don’t think I was overly disturbed about the strict atmosphere in our house or our schools/colleges. I had in fact liked the strictness and the rules. That way, someone else thinks for you and you don’t have to get too confused in a vulnerable age. You could also concentrate on studies!!

    Destination Infinity

    Reema: Welcome to my blog! Of course strictness and discipline is essential but you know too much of anything is always bad. Keep visiting!

  29. Brilliant Post! The three stories definitely make me relate to a lot of inicidents I have see in and around my life. Balance is the word…! Well Said!

    Reema: Thanks!

  30. πŸ™‚
    i can partially relate … so can many other daughters i am sure. well written. concerns well articulated. another thing that happens with over-disciplining/protectiveness is that the child never learns to make decisions since parents always make all the decisions. if the child makes ’em, he/she gets in trouble from parents; therefore, he/she never learns to make decisions for him/herself. sadly, it’s true for 90%+ Indian adults (including those born and raised to Indian parents out here).

    as a friend said, “that’s prolly the reason why the majority is still wiping white ass’. lack of decision taking abilities is like an epidemic.

    Reema: Thanks! Yes not able to take decisions is also one of the side effects of over parenting.

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  33. Beautiful post, Reema! So apt. And so relevant.. And it applies to both sons and daughters… We have to give our children all the means to make their way in the world, and to understand that we can only help them, not control them. They are individuals, even when they are little. If we treat them with respect and value their opinions, they will definitely show the same to us. The right balance is what is required. As a parent, we do need to discipline, and set boundaries, while letting them explore for themselves. I do think that if we get the balance right, life gets easier for everybody. And I guess, on a personal note, I would want my daughter to be happy, to feel secure, loved and to know that no matter what, her parents are there for her.

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