The increasing number of divorces is a major cause of anxiety for many parents, and very often at casual get-togethers, the conversation veers round to the cause of such alarming rise in divorce or separation. One of the oft-quoted reasons that has never ceased to irk me is that girls are not brought up as they used to be in the past or as they ought to be. It is lamented that in the past girls were brought up “very strictly” to be docile, obedient, patient, subservient, tolerant and never demanding. Today, they are raised “just like boys.”

Their degree of tolerance is on the decline; they have absolutely no patience, do not make any “adjustments' and have no idea of what it is to be an ‘obedient' wife and ‘humble' daughter-in-law. They question, demand and command. And if she happens to be a working woman, she expects her husband to share domestic chores and responsibilities, and so forth. Such whining and ravings about the bad girls of today and their irresponsible parents are not rare either.

This made me wonder whether girls should be brought up differently. Is there anything wrong in bringing up girls “just like boys”? Shouldn't they be taught to respect themselves, have a point of view and live out the dreams they nurtured when young? Or, should they have no dreams at all other than getting married, staying married and bearing children? I do not know what it is to bring up girls “just like boys”.

If a girl is brought up to respect herself, uphold her dignity, cherish her dreams and be happy, then she will certainly fulfil with élan the roles assigned to her by nature. She should be brought up to be a fine human being, and not a fine woman who can be easily ‘gloved' into the mould prepared for her by social convention. There is no need to train a girl to be subservient, to suffer in silence, to be meek and humble and bear her lot without complaints in order to make a marriage work. Instead, she should be motivated to be a person of integrity, with a keen sense of social values and a sense of responsibility. We should bear in mind that a girl is not a wife waiting to happen. She is first and foremost a human being, and therefore must be brought up to be a good and self-sustaining person.

It also made me wonder whether wedlock is truly marriage or bondage if the wife alone suffers in silence and willingly obliges every single wish and whim of her husband and his family, and endures all humiliation stoically and uncomplainingly. Will there be true happiness in such a marriage? If this is what made marriages in the past work, then they should be called by any name other than marriage.

While still on the subject, there is another question: should boys be brought up as they were in the past. Even today there are parents who send their boys to the so-called reputed schools that are believed to be good, for the fee is sky-high, and daughters to the local school that offer free education. Boys are brought up to believe that they are the centre of the family; that marriage is a give-and-take affair wherein he is the taker and she the giver; that he is the sole consumer in the trade of marriage, and she the commodity — not just the commodity but also a slave who comes free with the purchase. And to think that marriage is the only trade where the purchaser is not the privileged owner!

(The writer's email ID is: joyceejames@gmail.com)

RELATED NEWS

Breathing space in a marriageNovember 26, 2011

More In: Open Page | Opinion