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Does financial independence alone help us chart our own course?

Discussion in 'Married Life' started by SoaringSpirit, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. SoaringSpirit

    SoaringSpirit Silver IL'ite

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    Question : Does financial independence alone give us the control to shape our destiny?
    My Answer : No.
    Question : What else do we need to get that control?
    My Answer : Please read on for the explanation.

    We all know and have experienced the great strides women have made in gaining financial independence in the last many years. We continue to make bigger strides with the passing of each year.We have broken many records, set new records, changed the way things function in the society, in the workplace and at homes.

    I consider myself tremendously fortunate to be part of such a revolutionary phase for women and to get to experience it firsthand.

    Having said that, it seems that inspite of our meteoric rise in the financial independence area, we are still struggling to improve our “social standing”. When I say social standing I mean, women being considered as a key contributor in the house, a key decision maker and the recognition that the traditional “head” of the household is now a shared title between the man and the woman and not a title enjoyed by just men like in the past.

    The reason I think this area is still struggling is because most of us are still not equipped with the “emotional independence (strength)” we need to lead a life on our own (if need be) and to take care of ourselves no matter what.

    Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying we can’t do it, but we choose not to. And to me, this choice is not a result of just of our own weakness but a result of our upbringing which is influenced heavily by society.

    I say this even though I was brought up by extremely liberal parents who did not put restrictions on me only because I was a girl.

    Yet there are certain “taken for granted” rules that we all apply on our girls that make the girls less independent when they grow up.

    Over the last few years I have debated about this umpteen times with myself to figure out what needs to change to bring about the much needed emotional independence in women.

    What I have concluded so far is that something very fundamental in the way we bring up and treat our girls (and boys) needs to change. I have summarized below some thoughts I came up with.

    Two things came out for me from this exercise –
    • - I became more self reliant after noting some of my observations. Though, I am not quite there yet. It is always a work in progress J
    • - I formed some strong ideas about how to raise my own daughter and son. This according to me was a very important change.
    Here’s my internal debate and my conclusions from it -

    · When a girl speaks loudly, we say tone down or speak softly. When a boy does it we ignore saying he is boy what else can you expect.
    Unsaid Lesson 1, our first unsaid lesson to both genders - boy being loud and brash is ok but girl being loud is not ok she should be soft and mellow?
    Is this what we want to teach them? Nope. Yet this is what we perpetrated from this small incidence. I would like teach both to be soft but assertive.

    · When a boy and a girl come home crying because a friend was mean to them in play or at school we sympathize with both at first. If the boy continues to cry we tell him “Don’t cry like a girl. Go give it back to the person who did it”. If the girl continues to cry we are still sympathetic to her. We then tell her that next time this happens she must ask the person to stop doing it or go tell the teacher, we become more protective of her.
    Unsaid Lesson 2 – It is boy’s responsibility to make things right for himself.
    As for the girl, she should “work towards” making things right for herself by doing some on her own and some by seeking help from others.

    · When there is a son and daughter in the house, we usually hear the parents say “You are her brother. You must protect her. How come so-and-so hit her or messed with her when you were around?”
    Unsaid Lesson 3- For boys, you are in charge. You need to do what it takes to make things right. For girls, do what you can but know that someone will be there to protect you and to make things right for you.

    · As we enter the marriagable age, we start hearing the “good wishes” our of near and dear ones. Not doubt that they really mean it in a very good way. They genuinely want us to be happy. So their wishes are “Hope you get a husband who will recognize your talents and treat you like a queen. Hope you get an understanding husband. Hope your in laws are nice people. We really wish all these things for you so you have a very happy life ahead”. How many times do you hear such wishes for the boys?
    Unsaid lesson 4 – For girls, a good life ahead depends on husband, in laws and so many other factors that the girls have no control over.

    Unknowingly we impart some of these unwanted lessons to our girls and boys. These unsaid lessons stick in their mind and their choices later on in life reflect these lessons. That is why no matter how independent we become financially, emotionally we still struggle to become self reliant.

    To “command” a happy life rather than “hope” for one, we MUST become emotionally independent too. Merely being financially independent is not enough.

    We must equip ourselves, our sisters, our daughters, our friends, any women we come across, with this self reliance. For this, I think we need to pay great attention to these unsaid lessons that we impart daily in some form or the other to our kids, our friends and the people we interact with.

    I’d love to hear candid views/thoughts from all of you friends over here..

    SS
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
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  2. Mythraeyi

    Mythraeyi Silver IL'ite

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    Hi,

    This is a very interesting and thought provoking thread. I agree we give conflicting messages to our daughters and sons. Not just when they are young but later in life too society views men and women differently. For e.g one of my cousins completed her Ph.d by the time she was 30 but was not married - everyone's reaction was 'poor girl she has a Ph.d - she will find it really difficult to get a husband! If the same acheivement was by a boy, everyone would have praised it and he would be a prize 'catch' in the marriage market. We teach our daughters to conform to expectations not exceed them, maybe our parents did so keeping our happiness in mind. Generally in Indian society it is difficult for an independent woman with exceptional acheivements to find a compatible spouse. Most men cannot handle their wives being more successful than themselves. Society must change for women to be truly 'independent', including women not just men. A lot of women too have negative perceptions of single, successul women. I think our generation is halfway there - maybe the next one will take it further.
    Mythraeyi
     
  3. SoaringSpirit

    SoaringSpirit Silver IL'ite

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    Yes Mythraeyi you are absolutely right. A highly qualified woman has to "worry" about being able to find a good match whereas a smiliarly qualified male will have a whole slew of women to choose from.

    And I completely agree that we women need to be more understanding and supportive for other women. That's the first problem - that we are usually trying to prove ourselves better than another woman. Isn't that why mil and dil relationship becomes complicated? So first we women must change.

    And I think that this change should be brought from childhood so that it becomes second nature rather than something that we have to struggle to develop later.

    Then, we also need to work on improving the other half of the equation, the males. If only we change and they don't then slowly we will start loosing the threads that tie us together as a family and as a community.

    SS

     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  4. Nandhita

    Nandhita New IL'ite

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    Hi SS,

    A very well written out post. What I liked the most about your thread was that instead of focussing and lamenting on past and present, you are trying to work on the present and thus change the future.

    As you say, though one is educated and employed, the burden of the past lingers on and that makes it tough for a woman to become emotionally independent. But the first step is being aware of that fact and the next step is trying to ensure that our children don't carry that burden. It is much easier and very productive for the society at large, to shape them rather than trying to change the minds of all those around us.

    Again, I feel that there is a difference between employed with a good salary and being financially independent. That apart, as you rightly said, emotional independence is far superior and more important for a happy living.

    Regards,
    Nandhita
     
  5. latamurali

    latamurali Gold IL'ite

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    Hai

    This is very very interesting , important and thought provoking topic...........and u have written very well............

    And to me, this choice is not a result of just of our own weakness but a result of our upbringing which is influenced heavily by society.

    Very true........very true..........i agrere with u 200%

    I was brought up by typical south indian middle class/male dominating/conservative/orthodox family..............where they give special importance and care to boy child than girls.........ofcourse, some of them have changed their attitude.............but still some have not changed till this date.............i used to argue / fight with them for this......like still they want only male child (first child) for my brother
    they need boy for doing KARMA for the parents.......etc etc.

    In my house , iam the elder one and i have two sisters..........no male child.........my father suffered with chronic disease..........we three helped him finacnially,phsically, mentally............by all means..........still he ( other relatives/friends) felt bad that he dont have male child to do KARMA for him...........and take care of him..........he felt bad sometimes to accept from us...

    My relatives and even my parents refuse if i want my hubby or son to share householdchores with me.........i feel bad that even my hubby refused to share with me and say ITS UR DUTY.......

    * SO I WANT TO TEACH MY SON TO ASSIST IN HOUSEHOLDCHORES......for all women members of the family.........

    * In our family, first they used to serve food for male members only ......upto their satisfaction.......only leftovers will be served to female members eve female child......(.even if it is favourite item..of girl child...).

    and if a gilr child eat lot of appalams and ask for this and that.........elders will say.........NAKKA VALKATHEY......u will suffer if u go to ur inlaws place.........jus adjust with whatever u have........etc.....in the same case if male child asks for that.......they will say Purusha kuzhandha kekaran........do that for himand give.....

    I want my son to treat equally both male and female person............

    i can add lot to this............but let me stop here..........

    And SS, i onceagain completrely agree with ur lines.......

    we women need to be more understanding and supportive for other women. That's the first problem - that we are usually trying to prove ourselves better than another woman. Isn't that why mil and dil relationship becomes complicated? So first we women must change.


    And I think that this change should be brought from childhood so that it becomes second nature rather than something that we have to struggle to develop later.


    As u said, iam trying my level best to teach all these things to my son for the past 2 yrs.....(he is 8yrs old).......yet to succeed........since other members of the family teaching him viceversa......

    I also agree that there is a lot of difference between employed with a good salary and being financially independent........well said Nandita....
     
  6. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Thats a good post. Financial Independence and absolute no dependence on others for getting work done makes a person chart is own course. I have seen many financially independent woman who never go to the market... who never shop, who never do any work... they earn and thats their limit.. Can this help to chart your own course? Whether you are in the loop of marriage or single or with your parents or sharing a room with your room mate or living alone, the excitement of life begins when you can do all the work associated to your life alone. If you have hired someone to get your work done or are dependent on others to get your work done for ex. your mate / friend / others does all the shopping and you never step out other than manage home, you never visit the tailor or go to pay your bill, or have visited any bank, then .. when that person is not around you are helpless... You should try doing things at least once on your own so that you have knowledge of the work and the absence of that person does not make you "spin in whirlpool". With money the penchant to gain knowledge and perform action should go hand in hand else only money can buy you laurels. For me, financial independence has boosted my morale, I can chart out what I want and work on it independently. At the same time, I can do all errand work, starting from my first cuppa to my last hot cup of milk I can do it. My maid who supports me for the top work, her absence does not frighten me. I can do all the work on my own. Meet the authorities in municipal sector, pay the bills, organize meetings, conduct meetings, write minute of the meetings, shop till I am drop dead, bargain with my vegetable vendor for price, cook a hearty meal, wash my clothes physically if my machine is down, dust and clean my house, scrub my toilet and bathroom, write stories, sing songs, listen to music, answer posts, analyze horoscopes, do my vastu auditions, do home beauty treatments, go to the parlour, conduct society meetings, meet friends, party when required, shake a leg, call spade a spade when required, stand tall during crisis, cry hard when I am hurt but bounce back like a ball in a very short time, nurse my plants, nurse the plants of the building where I stay, raise civil issue through newspaper, watch my favourite programmes on television, go for boat rides, holiday once a month to different destination, travel on official visits, organised weddings, taken care of the sick, fight for the cause of my labourers in my office, conduct interviews, fire the staff when they are wrong, spread laughter in office by cracking a joke, go for long walks, google search for important sites and collect information and the list goes on. That concludes that not just finance but the feeling that I can do everything alone, makes me chart my life. I live alone and have till date not asked a single help from any of my relatives. Always tell yourself, I can do it, I will do it, I will try again and again and do it. I will not let the weaker part of me rule my life. Everything is in our head. Clean the garbage, man or husband or male species is not special other the actual difference God has created. They also think like us, walk like us and talk like us. WE have made them a larger than life figure on which they all have a hearty laugh. Marry to have fun, to share your life and romance, not for finance or help...
    Now trying my hand on electric fittings as I am not a jack 9sorry jill) there...
    All of us should practice to do all these things independently whether you are married or single.
     
  7. SoaringSpirit

    SoaringSpirit Silver IL'ite

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    I really enjoyed reading your candid thoughts Nandhita, Lathamurali, Malspie. Thanks so much for making this thread so interesting by sharing your views.

    Nandhita, thanks for your positive comments on my writing. I feel very passionately about this topic and I run and re-run it in my mind all the time looking for changes that I can implement. For the longest time I only kept fighting to change the way things are at present. But when I had kids of my own I really starting seeing the need to make ammends for the future too. Also, I realized that some of the things can be inculcated only at childhood, later on they become very difficult to change.

    Hey, in your reply you mention “I feel that there is a difference between employed with a good salary and being financially independent”. It seems like you have some interesting thoughts on that. Please feel free to share.

    Lathamurali, thanks for sharing your experience so candidly. I almost felt like I was talking to you!

    It was heartening to read about your childhood. I know where you are coming from because I come from an all girls family too! Only thing was that my parents were very liberal in our upbringing. I learnt karate for 7 years and classical dance for 5. And I got equal encouragement from them for both. I will admit though that I noticed a special twinkle in their eyes when my first born happened to be a boy! J

    I am so proud Latha that you are single handedly trying to inculcate these changes in your son. I know that this must be an uphill task because the rest of the family members still want him to be a typical man!

    To some extent, I too have to fight for the same in my house! J And this is when my husband calls himself modern and liberal! To a certain extent he is quite liberal. But he does not pay attention to the unsaid lessons that he imparts. I have to correct him and stop him so many times when he makes gender specific comments on the kids (I have one of each gender).

    Sometimes I have to literally put up a strong fight. For ex. my son who is 5 likes to play with kitchen sets just as much as he loves playing with cars and trucks. He has a few close friends who are girls and so he automatically got to exposed to the “girlie” toys too. He enjoys playing with the little pots and pans, pretending to make omelets, serving breakfast, making coffee etc. So a couple years ago I thought of getting him a small kitchen set to play with at home (this was before we had our girl). Oh! this created a huge turmoil in our house! My husband was dead against getting the kitchen set for him, let alone encouraging this kind of play. But I was adamant and went and got it regardless! J

    My insistence was based on two things. First, my son is a child and no child’s curiosity should be squashed neither should his exploring nature be killed. This is his age to explore and learn new things without categorizing them into girl and boy stuff. Secondly, if we tell him from our actions that kitchen and cooking stuff is only for girls, then that’s exactly what he is going to learn. Then, when he grows up and becomes a family man he is going to look at the kitchen and household chores as only his wife’s responsibility. This is one big factor that contributes to the classic “chores war” in every household. Because boys are usually not brought up thinking that household chores also are one of the things they need to actively participate in.

    When my girl plays with cars and trucks, she is cool. But when my boy wants to play with pots and pans, he becomes pansy? Nope. Not to me. Another unsaid lesson that I keep a tab on!

    And yes, I have slowly learnt to appreciate other women and openly compliment them for things they do well without feeling competitive. Who else can understand us better than another woman? Yet when it comes to appreciating and helping another woman we generally do it sparingly. And I think men take advantage of this divide when it suits them. So it is important that at the very least, we don’t put each other down.

    Malspie, your spirit to do all of these different things is really commendable!

    I agree with you 100% on the thought that we women should not shy away from the traditional male domain stuff like managing finances, making financial decisions, repairs around the house etc. We may not “do” everything but we must be aware and have the confidence that we will be able to manage without a male if we have to.

    You said that “Marry to have fun, to share your life and romance, not for finance or help..” This makes a lot of sense. Though, with the addition of kids the sharing of responsibility sometimes becomes a necessity to run the household efficiently and to maintain sanity of the lady of the house! That’s when we women start putting up a fight to get the male half to start contributing and helping around the house.

    Keep the thoughts coming without any hesitation, fear, discomfort! I look forward to more such interesting views..

    SS
     
  8. roopadadia

    roopadadia Silver IL'ite

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    Interesting topic that you have started here SS. I just landed here by chance.

    Along with financial independence...we should be able to manage other facets of life too as rightly mentioned by Mals, Naditha, Lata and others. I am sure all can't be perfect all rounders...but if need be they shouldn't get stuck.

    So i would say :hatsoff to Mals for being a super women.

    I always tell my neice and SIL who are with me...my neice dosen't like to do kitchen work...so i always tell her...where ever you go, how much you study, how ever rich you are but if you don't know how to cook or do the house work how will you guide your help to do it...then you will have to accept whatever they do. And if you go abroad then you will have to do everything no one will be there to hel[p ypu...so better learn cooking....but she just lets it pass and i can't press more. My SIL is of marriageable age she knows some cooking and is keen on learning more.

    Incidentally my husband's was a conservative joint family where the boys didn't do much work...but luckily all the boys in our generation help their wives with all the housework. :partyMaybe coz except us all are in US. But my husband being here also helps...whenever he finds time from his busy schedule.:cheers

    Even though we may not have done many of the jobs...but atleast we need to be confident that if godforbid and we land in any such situation where we need to chart out our life and take charge of it completely, ateast with initial help from others but then finally being on our own 2 feet.

    I can't help commenting on the current generation...who like the west are not very keen on finance planning and blow their salary of 40-50 k per month in parties, gadgets, clothes etc. and then cribbing paisa kam padta hain.

    At the starting of the year the say we will invest x amt...so please make deductions accordingly and in feb when we ask them for the proof of investments most of them have not done it due to what ever reasons and in the last month the sal that they get in hand is a few thousand rupees....because we have already done deductions as per their instructions.

    I don't know whether i was on the topic or strayed away from the focul point.

    Roopa.
     
  9. SoaringSpirit

    SoaringSpirit Silver IL'ite

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    I am so glad you stumbled upon this topic Roopa. Very nice to hear your views about balancing home and works skills. You seem to have a broad experience in handling different relationships. It is always interesting to hear your views because many times they come from personal experience! I completely agree with you that it is important to have “hands on” experience to be able to guide the “help” appropriately.

    What I also wanted to bring out from this post was that we women have to mentally prepare ourselves to take on life in its various colors and make life good for us no matter what.

    I see so many women who are successful at work, at managing home but when it comes to taking care of themselves they do a very poor job. They have little or no voice at home, they have very little decision-making capability and more than anything else, they depend on their husband to make their life happy. Nothing wrong with it if both husband and wife are tuned to the same frequency. But when things go south in their relationship these so called successful women do not have the courage to do what is right for them and make their life happy. In my opinion this dependency is a huge factor in so many women being discontent and depressed. Be it in-laws, husband, injustice at the work place, we women must learn to standup for ourselves and fight our battles.

    And in my observation just being financially independent does not give you this courage. You also have to be emotionally independent.

    Men do not depend on their wives as much to make things right in their life. If they are faced with an issue, most normal men will leave no stone unturned to address the issue. They do not wait for some angel (wife, in-laws etc) to come and make things happen. I think that is the right attitude. Depend on people but know that happiness, peace and contentment in life are our own responsibility.

    If we are suffering we must have the courage to find a way out of it and make our life fulfilling. That’s where I think we women fall short. Part of it is how we are wired, part is our upbringing and part is how we think. First one we cannot do anything about but the last two we must work on.

    SS
     
  10. srivatsa

    srivatsa New IL'ite

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    Hai,

    I loved the way u have listed out the things. I strongly beleive God has given a special strength to Females, which i feel is completely nill with the male generation. What i am today and the way i face life , i owe it to my parents. Yes, i have been brought up with lots of restriction being a girl. But internally they have also provided me a great strength where i can manage alone all the problems,with out any support. I can make decisions what to do, what to say.
    As far as i am concerned, I only wish that parents should not differentiate between a boy and a girl. But they have to make sure to induce extra strength in a girl as she will be in a new unexpected environment after marriage.Induce extra love into your boy, so that he makes his wife comfortable in her new world of strangers.

    Regards
    Sri
     

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