Daughters are Dearest
I am a Mom of three daughters.
“Do you know what you are having?”
It’s question that practically every mother-to-be is asked by nearly everyone she meets. While it’s fun guessing an unborn baby’s gender and planning creative gender reveals before the baby makes its entrance into this world, a child’s gender can be such a delicate and sensitive topic too, especially in the South Asian community and especially when you end up having daughters.
Male Over Female
In most South Asian communities, it feels like there is a strong preference for boys. Often the birth of a baby boy that sparks celebrations with ladoos being distributed to mark the occasion. While the birth of a healthy baby boy is often celebrated, the birth of a baby girl is often greeted with a very different reaction. Here’s just some of the comments I’ve heard:
“Are you sure? Maybe the technician read the ultrasound wrong.”
“Chalo, as long as she’s healthy.”
“Don’t worry, next time!”
These kind of remarks, along with overly dramatic tear-filled reactions, are still commonplace when a baby girl is born in a South Asian family.
Mom of Three Daughters
As a mother of three daughters, I won’t deny that even here in North America, in this modern age of gender equality and access to education, I have felt the presence of this outdated gender bias. It has reared it’s ugly head in small ways, through passive aggressive comments, through less than enthused celebrations of these births, through the clucking of the tongue and the big sighs. Almost as if the miracle of three healthy babies was not quite complete because they were girls.
Raising Independent Women
So now, here I am facing yet another challenge as a mother to girls (as if I didn’t have enough worries). How do I as a mother of three girls, raise them in a world that was not all completely over the moon to welcome them? Can I ensure that they don’t ever feel less than because they were born a girl? In what way can I eradicate this antiquated idea so that it never casts a shadow in their lives? Such big questions, such large looming problems for a parent to face. But all I had to do was to look close to home, close to the heart, to find guidance.
When my second daughter was born, my parents came to the hospital to visit. They already knew we were giving our eldest daughter a sister. But when they came and took turns holding this perfect little human, my Dad looked over to my husband and I and said, “There is an old saying I once heard that roughly translates to ‘rich is the man who has two daughters.’”
My Dad is the proud father of two daughters and one son. Him and my mother raised their three children equally with love and support and gave us all the same opportunities to pursue our dreams. They never echoed our community’s backwards sentiment when raising us, even though I know my mom heard the murmurs since she had two daughters. My parents never even uttered a word or gave a sideways glance or extended a sigh when I was expecting any of my three girls. They just loved. They loved me, they loved their granddaughters and they counted their blessings, three times over.
While the attitude about the birth of a girl in our community continues to be infuriating, especially when it seems that this attitude may never change, it is this lesson from my parents that I keep close to my heart. Our children are a blessing, not a burden. Regardless of their gender, they are given to us to love, but they are also gifted to us to learn from and to grow. If we show all of our children love, value each of them as individuals and as equals, perhaps then one day, I hope soon, this outdated gender preference will be eradicated forever.