How to deal with today’s daughters-in-law | The Daily Star
11:11 AM, December 08, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:30 PM, December 15, 2016

How to deal with today’s daughters-in-law

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It is the end of 2016. Bangladeshis nowadays are quite influenced by western culture, yet in the case of marriage they just love to keep the ‘tradition’ intact. The emotional expectation of bringing a ‘Futfutey’ daughter-in-law to ‘brighten’ their house still remains unchanged.

I repeat, it’s the end of 2016 and although I have no issue whatsoever with the overall marriage system—think plates piling high with Kachchi biriyani, gaudy mirrored dresses that could reflect sun rays and tonnes of photographs--, I do have my reservations on how this generation’s daughters-in-law should be treated.

The girl -- aka bouma -- who you are expecting to take over all your responsibilities in the future, is probably a journalist, doctor, engineer, scientist, professor, writer, fashion designer, model, actress, entrepreneur, musician or a smart well-educated homemaker of the 21st century.

There was a time when only girls were taught how to ‘behave’ in their in-law’s house, but times are changing and it is now the in-laws’ turn to learn how to welcome their daughters-in-law, ensuring both parties are in good terms with each other.

I know your age-old ego has just been slapped loudly as you nodded your head sideways- “We are the in-laws, and she is bound to lead her life in OUR way, otherwise she may step out.”

It may be a tad bit difficult for many of us to come out of the mould of tradition, but we all can learn and ditch the age-old dialogue that in-laws’ words are the final words.

Don’t panic! Of course, all the in-laws are not the same. It’s a sign of hope that today most of the modern parents have started to break the dead dogmas. They have begun to prioritise the relationship with their daughters-in-law instead of dominating them.

As I’ve already said you are this generation’s father or mother-in-law, and you’ll have to bring some changes in your treatment and behavior towards your to-be daughter-in-law, thus helping to run things smoothly. After all, “get out” is easy to say but in reality, you do not want trouble in paradise and your son to be separated from you.

On the other hand, your independent daughter-in-law will not, I repeat, WILL NOT continue to live with you and contribute in household affairs if she gets treated like this.

If your daughter-in-law is independent, confident and intelligent, you’ll also have to be smart when interacting with her. How? Here you go!

Talk to her

Talking is the best way to start a relationship. How should you start then?

- How many dishes can you cook?

- How much do you earn?

- These are some rules you MUST obey while you stay with us!

STOP, please! These are some examples of what you SHOULD NOT TALK to her about in the beginning of your relationship. Why don’t you ask what her hobby or passion is? Does she love to sing or listen to music? Get to know more about her, about her mom and dad, her childhood.

Remember one thing, today’s girls are always ready to fight back in adverse conditions, so do not give her one. Surprise her and change her idea of stereotypical in-laws. I bet, if you start with a broad attitude from the scratch, she’ll nurture this memory and give something fabulous in return!

Praise her

Being protective towards your son is understandable. But what about your son’s wife?

You are okay with your son waking up late during holidays but if she does the same, you raise eyebrows. You expect your daughter-in-law to carry out all the family responsibilities being a jobholder whereas you are okay if your son continues to avoid them. Why? Is this because he is a ‘MAN’ and it’s awkward for a man to do household chores or help his better half? And in doing so he becomes his ‘wife’s servant’ or in Bangla ‘Stroino’.

Instead of criticising all her actions:

-Praise her for her qualities. And she will be motivated and even more responsible.

-Prioritise her opinions. Listen to her. Remember, a self-dependent lady won’t like if you do not value her words in family matters. Even if you disagree with her, try to show her your reasons. But NEVER disregard her.

Practice hearing ‘NO’

Put a full stop on male-domination in your family. Now your son has grown up and your daughter-in-law is an adult too. Like your son and other male members, she is also talented and qualified. The girl from another family will respect you but not necessarily be afraid of you. So if her opinion differs from you, she’ll speak up, no doubt.

Take a look at her profession, maybe she is a good communicator, leader, speaker or manager. She is habituated in convincing her colleagues, bosses, friends and even her husband. So if she disagrees, it’s not her arrogance rather it’s her boldness or guts, reflecting her qualifications.

Burn the dead dogmas

“Jeans, shirts are forbidden. Make sure your clothes at least touch your knees. Scarves are mandatory.” It seems it’s the daughter-in-law’s scarf or veil that solely protects the family’s ‘dignity’ or ‘honor’.

It’s a serious issue. And it is trivial to impose rules about dress-codes on your daughter-in-law.

Valuable tips: Encourage her to wear saree on occasions. If she cannot wear sarees help her in wearing them. NEVER say, wearing western outfits is forbidden or ‘not allowed’.

How she should get dressed is her concern. She is a well-educated grown up adult. She certainly knows how to dress up in a particular occasion. Have faith in her wits.

Don’t relate the relatives too much

Relatives just love to talk about your family matters. Some of them are simply interested in pointing out your weak points than AVOIDING them! Real well-wishers will not break the bond among your family members. So, never destroy your family happiness just because of “Attio shojon ki bolbe” issue.

Remember, your daughter-in-law wasn’t born to impress the whole world. She has her own identity and that may not be liked by your relatives. It’s not HER fault rather it’s their problem who are showing excessive interest in your family especially your daughter-in-law’s personal matters.

Suggest them to keep their mouth shut (of course without hurting them) and stop interfering in your son’s life. Give them the idea that comments regarding your son’s conjugal life are unwanted by you.

Never forget mothers-in-law were also daughters-in-law once. And it’s absurd to think that the girls are destined to suffer.

Be humble, because today’s daughters-in-law are not living in your generation, it is YOU who live in such a generation where women’s rights are on the forefront and you as well are stakeholder and have fought to protect the rights of your daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and above all a WOMAN. It’s the necessity of time.

*And for daughters-in-law, we have a new article coming up soon on how to deal with mother and fathers-in-law in this generation.

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