“Trust your daughter”- 11 March 2012

The girl had no choice but to run away from home. Well, that is what she thought fearfully in her mind. She had panicked the moment she was informed by her good friend on her mobile that her father had spotted her with her male friend at a restaurant. She was sipping coffee with him along with two more classmates and enjoying a healthy conversation when the mobile shrieked. Her friends tried hard to calm her down and relax her and assured her full support to explain to her parents but to no avail. She had to run away from home and take shelter at a friends house or in another city altogether.

What an unfortunate incident! All because the parents were strict, uncompromising in their attitudes and did not trust their daughter. After a real life thrilling chase the girl was located, brought home with the help of parents friends and the police and ultimately for counseling. The girl was in trauma and the only explanation she could offer was that she was utterly scared of her mother who never understood her (not so much the father who was sympathetic). She had no boyfriend but liked mixed group company which her parents detested. That was always the bone of contention between them. What made her panic that day was her mother’s oft repeated words that stuck in her head like gum ‘I will kill you the day I catch you with a boy’. Goodness that was it then!

Take another unfortunate child. A pretty looking docile girl of 16 years who was somehow harassed many times by boys outside the girls college campus. She had instructions by her mother to get out from home go straight to college, after finishing college get out and go straight home. Do not turn your neck and look here and there and do not look at boys. She actually did all that but still got followed and teased by a group of boys who loved to hang outside the college campus. But she knew she would be blamed the day her mother saw or heard something like that. She would not trust her daughter but would instead blame her. The argument goes that boys will be boys but girls invite them and get teased.

We all know this is a myth. We all know how boys hang out and ogle at girls. We have all experienced it. We also know that innocent girls get teased and it is not the fault most times of the girl. She does not invite the teasing and the bullying and nor does she like it.

Mothers must trust their daughters and learn to listen to them carefully. She is a growing child and may have confusing and mixed emotions about many issues especially boys. A mother can be her best friend if she is open minded enough to listen to her emotions and her verbal expressions. She can guide and mentor the child into healthy habits rather than put the fear of life into her. A mother can be the best support to her girl.

Many letters that I receive for my column ‘emotions’ has a common refrain ‘I cannot tell this to anyone’ or ‘no one in my family will understand so I am writing to you’. What a pity! A family can offer the best support and guidance to growing children but most times the family is part of the problem so no solutions come forth from them. Modern times are confusing and many norms are undergoing change. Most teenagers are not sure what is right or wrong and may develop unhealthy attitudes if proper and loving guidance is missing.

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