Nurturing Girls: Challenging Role For Indian Moms Today?

To play the role of mother to a girl child in an Indian society has always posed unique problems. Today, under the impact of global culture, these problems have metamorphosed into new complexities. An average middle-class Indian mother has to strike a precarious balance between the new trends of liberal ideas that her daughter has imbibed; and the constant effort to mould this young lady of the 21st century into an ideal pattern of traditional woman. Life to her is a continuous battle between her inner world that longs for her girl’s happiness, and the outer world around that creates aggressive pressure on her to curb that free spirit & happiness. In general, the fathers in Indian homes pamper their girls with gifts and outings as long as they do not stray out of their domestic boundary.

The onus is generally on the mother to take care of her daughter’s education as well as domestication. Indeed, it is the latter quality that matters more, and proves to be challenging! This includes her learning house-hold chores; being soft-spoken and genteel; less voluble about her wishes and dreams if any; never taking any decision or indulging in arguments with her superiors in age. Her failure to conform to any of those supposedly feminine virtues under the microscopic scanner of the elders is generally considered as the incompetence of her mother. Real education for a girl child, on average, is not the school premise but her mother’s kitchen. Yet she must be educated to be a graduate at the very least! Academic success has nominal value as it is a pass-port to the marriage market! This has been the usual story of generations of Indian girls.

Yet the story, in recent times, has taken a quirky turn. It is true that even today education, in general, for a girl child (even those who are admitted to eminent Public Schools) is ritualistic mainly for brighter matrimonial prospect. However, the impact of the different electronic media that she gets exposed to stands in the way of her domestication. She admires the modern, vibrant, independent-minded and smart girls who can take care of their needs on the TV screen or internet, thereby stoking up her aspirations for more freedom. The modern educated mother today, who is more self-aware due to media exposure, and globalmomschallenge has always longed for a free space for herself, find it hard to rein in the dreams and wishes of her daughter. Ironically, the situation gets complicated when the former’s deeply imbibed ethical codes and norms from early childhood days create the squirming scorpions of self-doubt in her mind!

The partially evolved Indian mother nowadays, finds herself in deep dilemma. On the one hand, she can empathize with the independent aspirations of her teen-aged girl, on the other hand, she fears her severely judgmental in-laws; the domineering voice of her husband and strangely, that of her own teen-aged son! The social stigmas are oddly stacked against the mother if her girl wears a short skirt or grows close friendship with any boy outside her community! So she secretly allows her daughter to enjoy a friend’s birthday party in the pretext of going for private tuition yet appeals to her to return home before papa does! She stifles the latter’s voice, often harshly, if the young lady candidly expresses her opinion about some issue in the presence of the family members, yet comforts her sob in the dark silence of her bedroom. It is a world of strange dichotomy with the tablets and smart phones flooding the Indian market, infusing the adolescent minds of the girls with new ideas and in formations which are diametrically opposed to the tradition -bound concepts they have learnt from their patriarchal home atmosphere.