Don't we all want our daughters to grow up independent, fearless and confident?
Indian mothers of daughters would agree when I say that it can be tough raising a girl child in India.
We mothers live in constant fear of the safety and well-being of our girls and we know that it would be tough for them to make a mark in a male-dominated society.
But, as mothers it is our responsibility that we teach them things early on in life that helps them develop into confident, fearless and responsible women later on.
This is why I have decided to teach my four-year-old girl a few things from early on in life. Perhaps you should too.
#1. That it's okay to play with cars and not Barbies
I never insist that my daughter plays with Barbies and dolls. Neither would I stress her to play with cars and guns.
I let her choose what she wants to play with. But, I make sure that she has a variety to choose from.
Books, puzzles, blocks, legos, kitchen sets, play tents -- I give her a number of things and let her decide.
#2. That you should never be obsessed with looks and outer beauty
Don't we all know of this crazy obsession that a majority of Indians have towards fair-skinned and beautiful girls! But, we have to teach our girls to treat everyone alike irrespective of their skin and colour.
And that starts from home first. I make it a point to never discuss these things in front of my daughter, not even in humour.
#3. That you will not be conscious about your weight
For as long as I could, I tried to keep my daughter away from words such as 'fat' and 'thin'.
However, I am seeing that these days she has started talking about them, which is scary.
This is why I tell her every day that it is okay to be a little plump, however, you must always eat healthy.
I tell her that people have different body shapes and it is okay if you happen to be different from others. I tell her to be fit and not thin.
#4. That you will never be scared to ask questions
This is one thing that I follow religiously. I never cut my daughter in between when she's talking and make sure that I hear her out.
Hesitation can set in the minds of kids very early on and it is important that we patiently listen to them and let them speak their minds.
Read on know why I will teach her to treat menstruation as a normal thing!
This would help raise us fearless, confident girls that do not wait for even a second before saying anything. We need our girls to be like that.
#5. That menstruation is natural and not something to look down upon
Now this is something that am going to teach my daughter for sure!
I really wonder why we Indians have always looked down upon menstruation as something that is dirty, so much so that we refrain our girls from entering the temple or puja sthaan at home.
Some are even shooed away from the kitchen when they're chumming as if they have done something wrong.
Let us teach our girls that they should be proud of their period and that it is something unique to them and makes them powerful, not weak!
#6. That you would never let anyone crush your dreams, not even your parents!
Let's not deny, many of us gave up on our dreams and desires due to our parents, societal pressure or just for the simple reason that we were girls and we did not have the right to dream.
Let's not make our daughter go through what we have been through in the past.
For that, that we have to make sure that they dream big and do not let anyone come in-between their dreams and desires, not even their parents.
I would always teach my daughter that chasing her dreams is very essential, everything else is secondary!
#7. That marriage is important, but not a necessity
Of course we need to get married, find a life partner, fall in love, reproduce and do other such wonderful things that gives our life a new meaning. But I will always teach my daughter that marriage is not a necessity and I would never groom her for marriage alone.
I would teach her to be independent, have a good education, have a career and a life that is filled with happiness. If marriage happens along the way, it's great!
#8. That you would never let your relationships define you
I will always teach my daughter that you might be a mother, a daughter, a sister or something else, but you have your own identity and you will not let your relationships define what you are.
And, that you would never give up something you like because of your relationships!
#9. That you will never let others exploit you or any other woman that you know of
Safety and security have been the two issues that have constantly haunted me after my daughter was born and when I started working and enrolled my child into the daycare. But, instead of just worrying about it, I am teaching my daughter simple things like "good touch, bad touch" and why she should never be alone with strangers.
And, this would not end here for sure as I have to prepare my daughter to be ready to fight men and strangers who ogle at her and try to exploit her in any sense.
Besides, I would also teach her to help other women in need as Indra Nooyi said: "only if we women are together, can we help each other".
#10. That it's okay to be selfish sometimes
Gone are the days that mothers were like Nirupa Roy in a Manmohan Desai film, who sacrificed their needs for others.
I have seen my own mother do that, which is why I would teach my daughter that it's okay to be selfish sometimes and think about yourself and your needs.
#11. That you will voice your opinion and speak up
I never speak for my daughter when she has a fight with her friends or when she makes a mistake.
I always tell her to be strong and speak for herself as no one would ever do that for her, later on in life.
I also tell her that there can be times that your mother would not be by your side to help you, which is why she should deal with it herself.
#12. That you will teach all of the above things to your child, in case you have one
Lastly, I will teach her that this cycle has to continue as only then would we be able to raise happy and confident girls in a country where women have been oppressed for centuries.
The time has come to bring about a change. Don't you agree?
Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Still Vision/Creative Commons