Monday, August 25, 2008

In-law relationships

Life cannot be easy for a woman living in an Asian country where society has certain expectations for us. Although times have changed and women here do seem to generally have better control over their lives, there are some who are still stuck in the time warp that is the past.

Just ask any woman about their relationship with their in-laws. It is usually frosty, at best. As modern and educated as we are, we are still expected to conform to society’s expectation of being subservient. Personally, I find it especially stifling because I don’t believe that being subservient is what I am meant to do.

Sure, somewhere, someone is going to say that we should try to nurture better relationships with our in-laws and understand them better. That is all well and fine, of course. But then again, to nurture a relationship, both sides have to communicate, don’t they? That is as good as mission impossible in some cases I am certain, because some in-laws expect only themselves to communicate, and the rest of us, to blindly follow.

Take the matter of childcare, for instance. I’ve seen and heard of some in-laws who insist that a new mother follow religiously their way of caring for a child. I’ve also seen my friends’ in-laws insist they do not breastfeed their babies the first milk (colostrum) because it is deemed dirty. As we all well know, colostrum is just about the best thing you can give your child. Or how about insisting that the newborn be fed with grinded pearl powder? Or using salt water as a bottle sterilizer? As new mothers, we’ve all heard about how newborns’ livers are under-developed to handle anything other than milk, so how does a new mother wrangle with feelings of guilt that she might cause harm to the baby or risk bringing about the wrath of her in-laws? The best time of a woman’s life is seeing the birth of her child. It is unfair to deprive her of the joy of nurturing her child the way she is meant to do.

How do modern women like us deal with such unwelcomed intrusions? With information now available all over the internet at the click of a mouse unlike in the past, women are no longer uneducated. Yet, we are expected to feign stupidity to please others, just because they are older than us.


Ai-Ling said...

hi, sharon. i juz stumbled upon ur blog. fantastic! love ur articles. we share some similarities. will be coming back to check ur updates:)

Sharon said...

Hello Ai Ling, welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed the articles. Yes, do check back!