Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How far have we come, really?

I wrote a post a few days back about career choices and your daughters and it got me thinking about other issues that parents of daughters might confront. Now, when I was growing up, marriage was still the destination for all girls growing up and my parents worked very hard to provide for their daughters' wedding in addition to a multitude of education costs. The wedding was still considered to be one of their biggest expenditures and whenever my parents bought jewelry, I could see the wheels turning in their heads, calculating the total gold each time. They strived to be in all respects equal opportunity parents but in some part of them, the old Indian fears gnawed at them and the pressure was definitely on to save for our future. I do know that most boys' parents of the same generation did not feel the same pressure. When it came to paying money to get into an engineering college for me, there were people who cautioned my dad not to overspend as ultimately, I was going to get married anyway and to save for that big event instead of spending on this. One person even told my father that he would not have thrown his money away to send his daughter to an engineering college.
My question is this - do parents of daughters today, Indian parents especially, feel any of the same stresses that my parents and others of their generation felt? Are they compelled to save for a wedding nowadays (in any form, jewelry or otherwise)? I am fairly confident that a vast majority of parents will treat their children the same when it comes to education. When it comes to personal safety, I think it is parents of boys that have to think differently with awareness of abuses and pedophilia growing. So I think it comes down to this then - while demanded dowries are more and more a thing of the past, do parents still feel like they need to give a large trousseau, say 10 years or 20 years down the line? Are they saving especially for that? It is true today too that the cost of a traditional Indian wedding is many lakhs of rupees and the brunt of it is borne by the girl's family - is that going to be an expectation of future generations that the boy's family MUST spend equally? I am curious how this will all unfold in the future...

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