Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Secrets Unraveled! Complexites of the Mother Daughter Love-Hate Bond!!!

Mum's the Word

Through this article I'll share some tiny secrets. About what I believe complicates relationships of girls sometimes with their mum's. About what I think is ideal in a mother child relationship & about my fantasy Mum!

It is not an unknown fact that mother and daughter relationships are infused with some ups and downs and difference in opinion. But to take it to the level that Indrani Mukherjea has done, is definitely a shock to all people that knew the family, however distantly. Does that throw the relationship of a mother and child into question where one looks askance at the purest relationship that a mother has with her child? I think not. This would have to be a rare exception, with a mentally imbalanced person who could kill her daughter in cold blood. And yet the relationship of a mother and daughter is indeed layered and composite. The Indrani incident however has thrown a lot of questions up about relationships in our times. That Indrani’s husband, claimed to be one of the more intelligent people in the world of media, did not suspect anything when her ‘sister’ disappeared without a trace for three years? That a wife could lie so blatantly about her daughter being her sister, and then bump off that daughter because the daughter is an ‘inconvenience’ in her presently ‘perfect’ media baron life? That communication could be so poor between a child and a mother, or a husband and a wife that he is blissfully aware of her earlier marriage and kids, her homicidal tendencies, her cutthroat ambition, in this case literally.

Author Nancy Friday it was who had explored the relationship of a mother and daughter way before any other work looked deeply into this unique complex relationship. It was she who in candid self-revelations and numerous interviews with mothers and daughter accompanied by research delved and wrote about the conflicting love hate relationship of a mother and daughter and how there are compound layers of anger, competitiveness, desire for approval, dependency, fear of loss, blame and guilt in this relationship. I also feel that to idealise mothers as they do in our society is not correct to the degree of godhood, as they are human after all. When a child sees the mother as human her anger and inability to cope with the human aspects of her mother is monumental which also gives rise to conflict.

Another reason for tumult in this very interesting relationship could be the desire of a mother to plant her dreams and aspirations upon her daughter. In Oscar winning role for ‘Black Swan’ Natlie Portman is the daughter of a mother who is trying to live out her dreams through her child, suffocating her and pushing her beyond breaking point. I see this in parents of talented children where the child is the entire focus of the mother and the mother ‘rules’ with an iron fist creating a dysfunctional daughter.  

From personal experience I’d like to say that parents sometimes are careless about their P’s and Q’s with their children. I feel you are so polite and correct with people at work and socially, that mothers must appreciate their daughters without taking them for granted leading to self-doubt, longing for validation and resenting the dismissive behavior. The explanation for this by a mother is often ‘but you know how much I love you, all this is irrelevant.” To that I’d say, you see it isn’t irrelevant. 

It is important to not allow the feeling of rejection to creep into a relationship on either side and to say the kind loving things you feel are important especially for parents. This is especially because the child is biologically coded to need a mother’s attention, approval and proximity and a sense of rejection is painful. Give me a caring kindly momma than an ultra cool mother who thinks shes the cats whiskers! It is never easy to adjust to a mother who is casually offhand and not overtly caring. The joys of a mum who cares caringly are nurturing and make for a successful girl without inner angst.

That brings me to love and care, which is great, but to control your daughter is asking for trouble. The helicopter mother is a common enough problem, with mothers feeling they know best for their daughters and then taking it to the level where they do not allow the daughter to flower naturally and express themselves. This is a disaster waiting to happen in the relationship.

Yes these behavioral patterns of a mother challenge the conventional image painted of an idealistic mother who is painted more like a goddess, especially in India. We need to explore this relationship more realistically so as not to have the disillusioning fall, and a mother needs to introspect especially because her aggression or controlling nature can indeed give rise to a dysfunctional child who will carry her insecurities and problems into her other relationships in life unless she finds succor in a kind caring healing partner.

Both need to have more realistic expectations from each other and both need to move away and give space so that they are not prickly about each other and not the be all and end ofeach other’s existence.

More on this next time, watch this space.

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Nisha is a columnist , designer & brand consultant

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Abusive Woman Battered Man

My friend Sanjay is miserable. I try to analyse why a man who has it all- cars, homes, friends who love him, looks, education just about everything I can think of is so downcast? 

It’s my wife, she’s always ‘offhand’ and nasty, nagging and ticking me off, sometimes publically to my acute embarrassment. Over the years I find it getting worse. The problem is I love her and I’ve been married to her for so long I don’t want to end the relationship.” 

You thought only women had the raw end of the stick in relationships? The emotionally ravaged and dependent underdogs are not always women, as feminists would have us believe. I have been observing the tables slowly turning, with women becoming independent, assertive and nearly like new converts with a growing aggression flaunting their ‘rights’. But rights come with a responsibility- that of responsibility and composure.

Did you know that domestic violence against men is not recognized by the law? There is little or no sympathy toward harassed or abused men who sometimes have to kowtow to blackmail by women who use the law and section 498A - dowry harassment- to threaten men and take advantage of a law that is more or less one sided. It is more fashionable to be a 'feminist' and hardly ever show sympathy toward a battered man

'According to the recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, the number of married men committing suicide is actually higher than that of married women. While, women ending their lives due to marital harassment, is well played out in the media, and by several NGO voices, the marginally higher number of married men who have taken their lives is seldom heard. The NCRB report has it that 70.8% of the suicide victims are married males while 66.6% are married females.'

 Sanjay is just one such man who is a victim of the new age woman, women doing lunches, who have flung away the demure avatar for the more sexy frock! The woman who generally throws her weight around in ‘society’. Often in a case like this, she feels her husband is priority ‘z’. The husband is unable to handle the combination of aggression and independence the new woman displays in an equation of love and togetherness of what they had perceived as ‘happily ever after’.

There are two noticeable drifts observant to me in our urban societies where there is an influx of materialism and the desire to be upwardly mobile. One is the quintessential Indian man who is used to being the cynosure of his woman’s world as his father was to his mother is no  longer his wife’s priority.  I see the dynamics changing very fast, with a woman becoming acutely aware of her ‘rights’ as a wife or a lover. The second development I’m noticing is that the once meek, submissive woman go the other extreme today- ‘feeling her oats’ with the whole equality of women refrain that saw a beginning since females demanded the vote. I came back to India in the mid-nineties, when most women wore the sari or shalwar kurta. The more ‘forward’ women wore pants, but frocks and dresses were a very rare occurrence especially with non- Anglo Indian women. Things have changed drastically, and with discarding the traditional attire they donned the frock and shorts and also in many cases discarded the traditional values of respect and care necessary for a marriage to work. Urban women began to call the shots. Now while I would not get into the feminist angle of equality here, I would like to go back to Sanjay and many of his kin who now bear the brunt of an off-hand, brusque woman who stands to lose the romance and love of the relationship that brought them together in the first place. And in this one case Sanjay is still trying desperately to hold on indulgently to the vestiges of the love they had shared.

What is the course Sanjay should take?

I'd say the first course of action would be to communicate his concerns.
It's smarter to dig deeper into ones wife's problems and hold one’s own while coming up with a solution. If it’s the growing malaise I’ve been noticing in those marriages that have hit a roadblock- where women have found home, hearth and husband second fiddle to popularity, glamor and lunches-I’d say it is advisable for the man to communicate his sense of neglect to his partner. He should not sound like he’s complaining but more as if he is sharing and so giving her a wake up call. Have you noticed how we sometimes don’t even realize that we are unable see ourselves objectively and being shown a mirror to ourselves is helpful?

All relationships are a work in progress. I recommend that Sanjay write an email to his wife about all the issues he sees in their marriage without making it sound like one long dirge. Many a time we don't even realize that we might have got carried away with life and the ‘trappings’ until we are shown a mirror so that we may introspect. If Sanjay would write a letter it would be a reality check to his wife Ravina on whose current priority list are lunches, long phone-calls with girlfriends discussing diamonds, clothes and parties or then handbags. It is always more effective when a spouse or partner articulates their thoughts. It is a good way to be prepared and ready to combat any negativity with equanimity and composure than to fly off the handle. 

When communicating ones grievances one has to be careful about giving respect to receive it in return. The moment one feels that sense of entitlement you have lost your audience to treacherous feelings of resentment and anger.

I've noticed that in a relationship whether it is a marriage or a live in relationship,  whenever one hits a roadblock one thinks of walking out as a way out. Remember that it's always smarter to find solutions and work things out before that final step. However here's the punchline- if it's a no win situation to stay caged in a bad situation thinking life is over is also a no win situation too. Should there be no recourse I'd Sanjay should find himself a lawyer and find his way out.

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