"And one day she will get married and leave you to build her own nest…"
"Sorry for interrupting, but how do you know she will marry? There is a chance that she may not want to."
"Huh! Of course she will. Everyone does. She can’t live alone throughout her life."
"Hmm. Well, there are people who have chosen to stay single in their lives. So what’s the problem if she too makes such a choice? Who decides that everyone should marry?"
"Those people must be living very lonely lives. Everyone needs a life partner for company, intimacy and love."
"We are no one to decide for other’s personal choices. Happiness and love mean different things to different people. No two people have the same expectations from life in all aspects. And in any case, she presently is just a toddler. Why are we even discussing this now?"
"But don’t you think she would need a man in her life to protect her? To make her feel love and to care for her?"
"Absolutely not! Firstly, I don’t want to teach her that she needs to depend on someone to feel protected. Instead, I want her to grow self-sufficient and be able enough to take care of herself. Secondly, you are assuming she will need a man. What if she turns out to be gay? In that case, there won’t be any need for a man. At least not in love life.”
"What are you saying? How can you even think like that about your daughter? That’s disgusting!"
"You are reacting as if I cursed my daughter. What is disgusting about being gay? The other day you had posted on Facebook about your support for gay rights. But you don’t really seem to support homosexuality. You are being a hypocrite.”
That was it. She stomped out of the room in anger even before I could complete what I wanted to say. I was relieved when this harebrained and frivolous conversation finally came to an end. I was forced to have this discussion with one of those nagging aunts during a gathering while I was feeding my toddler.
Since my daughter’s birth, I have been hearing about direct and indirect references to her future marriage. Yes, you heard it right. People are already thinking that far! It is appalling that even in today’s age; a lot of people still tend to think that marriage is the ultimate destination of this journey we call life.
Without marriage, life isn’t complete whether you are a man or a woman. And being a mother of a girl is all about your daughter’s marriage or so is implied by such aunts.
(As we know, it doesn’t end here. We need to have kids to feel “more” complete). I personally do believe in the institution of marriage and that’s the reason I got hitched. I got married because I legally wanted to be with the man I loved and we still love each other. I did not marry to follow the so-called rule book of our society.
But marriage for me is far, indeed very far from being the ultimate destination in life. And just because I believe in marriage, I cannot presume that my daughter too will get married.
I want to talk to my daughter about living every moment of life and enjoying it to the fullest. I want to talk to her about being sensitive to others’ feelings and caring about people. I want to talk to her about being open and honest in every relationship rather than carrying baggage of the past. I want to talk to her about respecting everyone including her own self.
I want to talk to her about being self-accepting and to continually focus on evolving as a person. I want to talk to her about being a responsible citizen of our country. I want to talk to her about pursuing her passions and exploring the world. I want to talk to her about being strong and independent.
Do I want to talk to her about marriage? Yes, of course. I want to talk to her about marriage from a neutral and unbiased perspective without painting a rosy and dreamy picture in her mind. No prince charming. No larger-than-life expectations. I want to talk to her about what it truly means to live with a person under the same roof.
I will trust her to decide for herself whether she wants to plunge into a married life or not. If being unmarried leads to loneliness and that’s her choice, so be it. When she’ll grow up, she would be mature enough to understand what marriage is and what it isn’t. And I will let her follow her instincts.
Our growing kids may question such traditions and apply their own wisdom to make decisions. Unfortunately, some kids may grow up with the presupposition of getting married, like it has been the case with many youngsters in our generation.
Statistics clearly indicate that in India, there is significant percentage of married folks who acquired that marital status only because everyone said it was the right thing to do. Or because their peers were getting married. No one guesses how detrimental this can be at times to the growth of a relationship.
Many times, I have come across forwarded posts floating around on social media that convey things like “Raise your son well because you are raising someone’s future husband and father.” While I appreciate the intent of such posts, I strongly disagree with the underlying message being conveyed.
Why can’t we simply say, “Raise your kids well to make them good human beings.”? I don’t care whether my daughter gets married or remains single. Whether she wants to bear a child or adopt one or not bear any child at all, it doesn’t matter. As long as she values relationships in her life and understands commitment, I shall be happy. Whether her choices in this matter will be tough for me to accept or not, that is something I presently cannot predict. But that is my problem and I will not let it affect her decision in any way.
She is my daughter. She also is an independent human being with her own desires and so I shall leave it up to her to live her life.