daughter has just entered the age of puberty and has also started showing
signs of interest in the opposite sex. She also feels the need to spend more time with her friends, go for movies, lunches, dinners and the occasional party. You as a parent are worried. What should you do? Should you discourage
your child from such deviant thoughts and activities?
In Indian society, boys are usually
permitted to go out and have a nice time, while girls are expected to observe
certain rules, regulations and traditions. If you have a daughter past
the age of eleven, it is very likely that she has started becoming interested
in the opposite sex. You have a choice to encourage or discourage her.
Should you provide her with some freedom, or should you stick tight to
your morals, values and Indian culture? Here's why you should loosen up as a parent, and send your daughter for the occasional movie and party.
"Everyone's doing it!" While this
may not be reason enough for you to let her hang out with the opposite
sex, it's unfair if she's the only one not being allowed to go for a party
or for a movie or for lunch with the boys. You may think it doesn't matter,
but it does. 'Fitting in' is of prime importance at this age - and if you
don't let her 'fit in' by sending her for harmless outings, she may try
to 'fit in' by indulging in not-so-harmless activities like smoking.
Okay, everyone's not doing it. You're
living in a semi-conservative neighbourhood, and while the parents of some
girls are liberal, there are conservative parents like you who don't encourage
their girls to mix with the opposite sex. But remember, it's the girls
who are given the freedom who go to sleep happier, content individuals.
If you adopt a more tolerant and
understanding approach, your daughter will grow up with a healthier and
more mature attitude towards boys.
The sole reason parents are strict
with their daughters, is because they feel she may bet a 'bad name' and
consequently they may not be able to get her married. It's time you realized
that your daughter is probably far more capable of finding a suitable match
for herself than you give her credit for. Many high school romances culminate
in happy, successful marriages.
In addition, the age of arranged
marriages is fast disappearing. This concept has mostly vanished from everywhere
in the world and presently exists in a few countries, including India.
What this boils down to is that children will soon be finding matches for
themselves, and if you as a parent discourage this from the outset, that
only means more of a tension for you as you start calling up friends and
relatives and requesting all and sundry to suggest a suitable boy or girl
for your child.
If you still feel that you would
prefer if your daughter has an arranged marriage, then you should get her
married as soon as she graduates. It is not fair on her to continue living
life with the restrictions you have imposed for much longer.
Career or Marriage?
This is a choice that should be left
to your daughter. Every girl these days should be independent to the extent
that if need be, she can rise to the occasion and contribute to the household
If you would like to encourage her
in her career, remember, it would be far easier on her system if she is
independent and makes her own decisions from a young age. Confused parenting
- by parents who would like their daughter to study further and have a
career of her own, but at the same time they impose numerous restrictions
on her life inhibiting her independence - should be avoided at all costs.
Some parents actually believe that
the stricter a parent is, the stronger their love for their children. Yes,
there are parents who don't have time for their children, and consequently
such children are hanging around all over the place. But this doesn't hold
true for all children who go out for an occasional date or party. No one's
disputing the fact that you love your kids. But you can also strike a happy
balance by allowing them out every once in a while, and being there whenever
they need you. Let her go for that party - as long as she comes back at
a decent hour. Pick her up if you have to, and discuss the events of the
evenng with her. Let her tell you how much fun she had. And when you see
that glow of excitement in her eyes, the light of first love shining through,
don't kill it.
Teach your daughter right from wrong,
and give her the freedom to make her own decisions. Trust her. She will
grow up to be a well-rounded and responsible individual.
As long as she keeps a happy balance
between her home-work, grades and social life, you're doing a great job
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- The Indiaparenting Team