“They will love you later…

When you are married.”

I recently had a conversation with a acquaintance.  I can’t call her a friend because although we have “known” each other for almost a decade, we know close to nothing about each other. She was telling me how her parents love her, especially her father and brothers show more love to her now that she is married. As an example she said that her father wouldn’t hug her all the times before, but now it’s thing he does every time she leaves her parents home, which is every day.  She did not make them seem abusive in any way before she was married. But in my book the damage was done.

To be perfectly fine with the fact that Pakistani families shower their newly wed daughter with love, to the point of pampering , vs. keep keeps their distance before she is married or worse yet how a young woman is often ignored and neglected to the point that who has no rights because she isn’t married, spoke volumes about how she had grown up. And it filled my gut with a tight queasy feeling.

And unfortunately I have seen it happen again and again, in worse forms than the father figure never hugging their daughter. From enforcing dieting plans to point of starvation,  to not including the young women in family conversations, to enlisting everything they do “wrong” in regard to fashion, cooking, sitting and standing to or not caring about her mental or emotional well being at all, many people are okay with this cultural abuse in the name of “but we are only trying to help our daughter/sister.”

Help but how? How is possible to help someone by lessoning their self-esteem, by making them feel like their don’t belong their in their own family?

For instance:

A few years back in a conversation about how her life had changed a young 26 year old girl, a month before her wedding, went as far to say, that she often doesn’t know what to say to her parents now that they actually ask about her opinion on things, because she wasn’t altogether sure that it was okay for her to say something now that she was getting married. They had literally never asked her opinion on anything before.

And they thought she was ready for marriage??!

Or another time, in order to make my friend  was forced into losing weight to the point that when it was time for her have children, after her marriage, she couldn’t. Because she was skinny but malnourished.

Pakistani culture is huge on marriage; which is understandable given that it’s half of our Deen (faith). But what part of half of the deen is girl going to accomplish when she has had father who only ever criticized, or worse yet never said anything to daughter at all outside of formalities, yet expects her to live with a man and be open with him.  Because fathers are only supposed to make money and buy things. They aren’t supposed to emotionally or practically invest in the actually lives of their children. Or a mother who never allowed her to be woman, but treated her always as someone who doesn’t understand anything, because she emotionally sensitive, or invests all her time with her friends or tv, or just isn’t like her mother in her habits. Thus all the decisions are made for her.

So if she is someone who naturally is tanned, and she should bleach her skin. Or that she is over weight at perfectly healthy weight for her body and hight, because skinny girls are attractive. Or worse of  worse, that she is not part of house management, she is never part of any big family decision, and she is never allowed to dress up as wishes, let alone ever asked her opinion because she is incapable to making any decisions herself, because she isn’t a woman yet- but should be prepared to cook, clean, run the house, and take care of her husband, and his family.

But it doesn’t end there- because the mother of my acquaintance, is the one to go to her daughter’s house, and clean it spotless, while the daughter is at work, when only two adults live in that apartment and both of them are not even home 4 days a week and cooks for them, everyday, and doesn’t care that her daughter is getting over weight, because she is married now.

Or In other words loving her to the point that the girl, should the least amount of nonchalant issue be raised, should immediately consult her parents, who will back her up- no matter what, because she is finally their daughter now that she is married.

So really it’s a cultural habit issue. And a HUGE one, which also ends up including other abusive family habits. But why should they, any of parents who do this, should stop being biased because other wise they will run out of so many things love todo in the name of keeping with our culture and faith. Although the faith bit is a big fat lie. Its just the cultural habits that people want to keep. Because if it was keeping with faith, than you are supposed to shower your daughter with love the moment she is born, that fathers and as much as mothers are supposed to be friend’s with their children and be able to converse with the children and not just use their authority. Because its easy to use it and even more easy to misuse it. Beside we don’t live in a dream world. But if young people like my acquaintance or friend’s vow to not repeat their parents habits,  it would allow for more open door discussions rather than closed doored ones.

Because no child- should  have to wait to get away from their parents- in any form- to be loved by them.

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