Is 2014 very different from 1960 when it comes to bringing up a girl? With societal changes, are parents being more protective and restrictive or are they more open with their girls? Are mums bringing up their daughters the same way their mothers brought them up? While mutual trust and friendship is what all mums, today, look for in a relationship with their daughters, it may not necessarily define the relationships they shared with their mothers. “Till today, I am scared of my mum and wouldn't dare to cross the line with her, but the relationship I have with my daughter is a comfortable one. I was never allowed to go out, except for birthday parties which were rare and even then, I had to be back by 8 pm. We all want what's best for our girls, but I believe that you cannot be too strict with your children as that would make them rebel. You're young only once! I never restricted my daughter, Berlyn, as long as I knew where and with whom she was going out.” says Bernadine D'Penha.
But what builds this bond between mums and daughters? Sarita Sugla believes “in being frank and open with my girls, Ruchi and Shrishti. Growing up, there were certain topics which were taboo to speak about. My mum didn't sit me down and have 'the sex talk' with me as I did with my daughters'” Rashna Sanjana, 45, remembers similar days when she was a teenager and remarks about how different it is with her daughter. “From the time my Sanaea was 10 years old, she was told how to differentiate between a good and a bad touch. She knew beforehand that periods aren't a bad thing.”
Maybe it's the changing thoughts of society or perhaps it's just the way mums are bringing up their girls today, but Rashna believes that her daughter is more independent than she ever was at that age. “She thinks out-of the-box and experiments. She goes out with her friends; I believe that if she ever has to go out on her own, she will be able to take care of herself. Our generation rarely experimented for fear of a whack if we spoilt or broke anything. Our lives revolved around the home and the family.”
And the approach to boys? Well that was walking on thin ice, at one point. But that's changing. Today's mamas can, thankfully vouch for it. Rashna recalls her college days, “If I was walking down the road with my mum and happened to pass a boy from my college, I would think twice whether to acknowledge our acquaintance or to ignore him. I'm glad that Sanaea is comfortable talking to me about the boys she finds cute.” It was pretty much the same when Sarita was Ruchi's age. “We weren't allowed to go over to friend's homes, especially if they had brothers; sleepovers and wearing t-shirts were out of the question.”
The bond between a mother and daughter is deep, whether it's evident from the time she is born or whether it evolves after the daughter is all grown up. Flavia D'Sa, 72, remembers that when her fourth child was born, the older one began to feel a little left out and thought that her parents didn't bother about her. “Formerly, they wouldn't talk to me about their feelings and I did not understand them. But it's different now. They're married and have moved away from home, but it's never too late to build that bond with your daughter,” she says.
While bonds between mum and baby girl can develop at any point, Louisa Ferreira, 81, remembers her younger days; the bond she always shared with her mum reflected the relationship she shared with her daughter. “I have three boys and a girl, and I always treated them equally. But the concern and care I had for my daughter was always far greater. I knew that one day she would get married and go away from me, so my relationship with her was special in small ways. Every feast she had a new dress. We would go shopping for dress material together, but she never had any outrageous demands. When I got married and visited my mum's home with the kids, mum would always slip some money in my hand through the taxi window before leaving. It was her way of supporting me and my responsibilities as a mother. I guess she felt the same as I did about my daughter growing up and leaving.”
And then there's the bond which is yet to grow. Ritika Moniz, 28, mother of three-month-old Allison, hopes that one day she can have the same relationship that she had with her mum. “My mum never stopped me from doing what I wanted, but she explained the consequences to me. She was open with me and explained why I should or shouldn't do certain things and that's what I love about us. My mum worked and from the time I was a 10-year-old, I was independent and doing things on my own. So she had to talk to me and warn about being in the house alone. The world today is changing and I think the conversations I will have to have with Allison will have to be more detailed than the ones I had with my mum. Kids are exposed to much more and I cannot tie her to my side forever. The sooner she knows things from me, the better, instead of listening to ill-advised conversations from friends. But what happens eventually, when she has her own set of friends is not something I can control.” Will the bonds between mothers and daughters deepen in the years to come? Or will peer pressure and society push them apart? One can only wonder.