My daughter ,the other day, was ordering some items from the grocery nearby over the phone. The same order, if my son or I had given would have ended in less than three minutes. She took more than five minutes. That too after I asked her to disconnect the line. She was being nice on the phone. She spoke very sweetly to the person and was trying to make the guy understand what a “Strawberry Flavoured Yoghurt” is. That was fine. She was giggling too during the process. This somehow rang alarm bells in me. She was then being asked the particulars of the curd and other items that needed to be ordered. Which generally never happens on certain items , because they are a small shop and have only limited varieties and brands. I asked her to end the conversation as soon as possible.
This is something typical what my mom would have asked me to do. She was always highly cautious of who I spoke to and how I spoke to the person. She was my moral and behavioural watchdog. Though I resented it at the point, I now realise how important those teachings have been. Being naive and thus being nice to everyone is an inborn faulty trait. Sadly my daughter has got it from me. These kind of people trust everyone blindly. They are highly immature in their ways. And hence are the ones who end up getting hurt the most. If it was just an emotional hurt, that is bearable. Not acceptable, but bearable. The breaking of trust can leave a scar. But when that very same breaking of trust ends up violating someone physically, it ends up being a crime.
In many ways I was restricting my daughter’s freedom to do and say as she desires. Being a feminist I would want her to talk in whatever way she choses to and to whoever she wants to. But I just couldn’t. Does that make me a hypocrite?
Being nice gets you friends in the long run. Being cautious of people rarely helps in that account. It takes ages for someone like me to trust someone first. Friendship and everything else comes a long way down the line. I am in a dilemma whenever parenting issues come up these days. Am I so proud of what I have become to make my daughter follow the same cautious path that I took? Or do I let her be more open and trusting to people. I am not just referring to men here. Girls can deliberately land you in trouble too.
I can stay back and not be a helicopter mom if all that would come out of that was a failed test or unattended extra curricular. But should I back out from protecting her or teaching her how to protect herself emotionally and physically?
Everyone says if you have one of each kind, a son and a daughter, your family is COMPLETE. I think it is time this is rephrased. The mother of such a family is FINISHED! This situation is the worst to be in. I want to be a feminist when I teach my son how to respect women and to treat them as equals. On the other hand I am restricting my daughter from doing certain things. No, I don’t make any differences in the way the two are brought up. They enjoy the same rights to attend parties, movies , sleepovers and trips. But they have to be taught a different set of rules when it comes to safety.
Where does a parent draw the line between his/her own views on feminism or right to equality and the safety of his/her child?