I’ve been reading a lot lately on the burden daughters are on their parents. The main aim in the life of Indian parents appears to be to see their daughters settled, with dowry if required. Obviously, this leads to several problems and a lot of heartache.

However, I am amongst the lucky few to have had parents who never gave us the impression that we were a burden. We are three sisters, and an occasional remark by my mom about never having a son was always met with much ribbing and teasing. My dad and mom, (especially my dad), believed so much in the power of education that they sacrificed a great deal to give all three of us the best education that could be had. We were never thwarted in the pursuit of our dreams. We were never told that something was not possible because we were girls. Every decision was discussed with us, pros and cons discussed, practical advice given, and final choices were left to us. Once we made that choice, we received unconditional support. Even today, all three of us know for a fact that mom and dad will back us up if we ever need them.

When marriage proposals came our way, my parents were very clear that no dowry would be in the picture whatsoever. In fact, when one such proposal came for my sister, and the guy’s parents asked how much gold we would give, my mom retorted that she had educated her daughter well enough for her to buy all the gold she ever wanted for herself! We were so proud of her! My parents never pressurized us to get married just because. They were worried out of a sense of duty, no doubt, but they never forced us to accept proposals because of that.

A few years ago, after my dad had a major operation, it was quite clear that my parents would have it tough staying independently. We got together, helped them sell their house, and they moved in with us, each daughter in turn. There was never a question of them not moving in with one of us. In fact, we still squabble over who they ought to come and stay with. They don’t really need our financial support at this juncture, but they definitely have all the moral, emotional, and physical support we can provide. Financial support, if and when required, is also something that will be provided without question.

All three of us have had tremendous support from our husbands, and it would be foolish to dismiss that. Yet, I cannot for a moment think that we would have declined to support our parents for any reason. They have done so much for us that this is the very least we can do for them.

Perhaps this is why I have never felt that daughters are a burden. I am still astonished by those who think this way, and I cannot understand it at all. I myself have a daughter and Lil D is a such a great source of happiness and joy. But if I had a son, I don’t think I would have changed my style of upbringing at all.

I think any child, irrespective of gender, will be a burden if they are not taught from the beginning to be independent and self-reliant. The aim of parenting, imho, is to teach your children how to fly, not drop them to the ground with a millstone around their necks.

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