“Apna ghar khud sambhalo” – When parents throw their married daughters under the bus

Published: June 5, 2018
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Sadly in this society, there is always a distance that develops between parents and their daughters after they are married. PHOTO: AYESHA AHMAD PHOTOGRAPHY

Recently, a discussion was going on at a relative’s house amongst some aunties and uncles regarding parents’ support to their daughters after marriage, and its consequences. Unsurprisingly, most of them were of the view that a girl can never become a successful homemaker if her parents keep backing her after her marriage.

They were of the view that parents should never assist their daughter after getting her hitched. No matter what the circumstances she goes through, they should push her to compromise as if she has no other option left. Some of the ladies were proudly narrating such instances from their own lives, where they went to seek help from their fathers but they turned them down and sent them back home with their husbands.

They believed this is why they are still with their husbands. If their fathers would have supported them then, they would have taken solace in their parents’ house and would have been divorced by now. The gist of the whole discussion was that parents’ support to girls after marriage ruins their lives and leads to their divorce.

I was a silent listener and spectator to this discussion. Since they were all my elders, I didn’t consider it appropriate to interfere and put forward my point of view in the discussion. Hence, I thought of writing this blog.

“Apparently it is the 21st century, but if truth be told, we are still living in the Stone Age,” I had thought then.

Let me clarify first that by parent’s support to their daughters after marriage I do not mean financial or monetary support, I mean moral and emotional support in tough and sturdy times. There should always be assurance to women by their parents that they are not bound to deal with a problematic marriage by hook or by crook, and can opt for a way out if things go out of control.

Marriage is a sacred bond and should be preserved in all possible ways, but at times the situation becomes uncontrollable and girls need to seek support from their parents. For instance, if a girl is physically or emotionally abused by her spouse and tells her parents about the horrors of her married life, they should not direct her to continue living with her abuser as if she has no other option.

At times men are engaged in activities they do not reveal prior to marriage, like drinking, gambling, dating other girls, and so on. After marriage, their wives discover these secrets and the only shoulder they get to rely on is their parents. In such cases, parents should not advise their daughters to learn to live with it and deem it their destined fate.

I queried a few of my friends while working on this blog to gather their viewpoints and thoughts on this topic.

“Parents should never support their daughters financially after marriage, but they should always back their daughters emotionally when they are in genuine need,” said Aisha Huzaifa, a married woman. She added, “At times girls play the victim while they are the real culprit. This is why parents should be sure of the situation before lending support to them.”

“Parents should always stand by their daughters, and shouldn’t weigh their daughter’s worth by the success of their marriage,” said Aruba Adil, an unmarried working woman.

Another married friend of mine says parents should always support their daughters post-marriage by all means, as they have more wisdom and experience and can guide their daughters through their advice.

“Daughters always need parents’ support emotionally, and it doesn’t ruin anybody’s life, neither their daughter’s nor of anybody else connected to her,” said Sadiya Samson, a married working woman and a very close friend of mine.

I was quite relieved after coming across these opinions because it is not just me who thinks otherwise, since most girls in my circle hold the same opinion as mine.

I have witnessed married girls going through a lot of hardships on their own and still not opting for a divorce. They know they can’t seek help from their parents, as they will turn them down due to their so-called respect in society. Ultimately, such girls fall prey to low self-esteem, depression, hypertension and other mental illnesses. This is where parents are wrong, because they are making their daughter’s suffer at the cost of their izzat (honour) in the society.

I do agree that there are situations when parents are to be blamed for aggravating problems in their daughter’s life, but that’s not always the case. There are parents who cross all limits in their so-called love for their daughters, and teach them to never compromise or give up on anything after getting married. This kind of unfair support is also not right and will eventually lead to break ups.

When looking at financial and monetary support from parents though, there are certain boundaries. I believe girls should avoid this kind of support as much as possible after marriage. They should either rely on their husband’s income or earn themselves, in case their husbands have low income sources. Taking money as gifts, or on occasions like Eid as Eidi is fine, but relying on your parents to make ends meet is not fair. However, if any tragedy or mishap occurs causing some major loss to their daughter or her husband, then parents should go ahead and help her monetarily as well, and the girl should not feel ashamed in taking such help.

Sadly, in this society there is always a distance that develops between parents and their daughters after they are married. I have even witnessed that some married girls are not even allowed to visit their parent’s house as per their will. They are either allowed to see their parents on occasions or on days decided by their in-laws. Some are not even allowed to stay for a sleepover at the very house they were raised in.

It is wrongly believed that the more she stays at her house, the more she will become negligent of her in-laws and her household duties. This is also something that bugs me a lot. After marriage, there are times when girls need a little break from the hassles of routine responsibilities and wish to take some rest. A girl should be allowed to spend as much time with her family as she wants; there is nothing wrong with letting her have some peaceful ‘me’ time, it will not lead to her ruining her life.

In a nutshell, the traditional concept that parents’ support to daughters after marriage destroys their lives and leads to high divorce rate is a flawed one, or you can say that it applies no more. Parents must back their daughters if they are caught in an abusive or miserable relationship, and help them with a way out without making them feel bad about their situation.

Afshan Zahra

Afshan Abbas

The author is a graduate from Bahria University Karachi. Writing is her favorite pastime and she writes whenever any topic touches the chords of her heart. She likes to raise her voice on issues related to social injustice, women rights and education. She tweets @AfshanZahra2014 (twitter.com/AfshanZahra2014)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.