An Indian Mother's Hope for Her Daughters

Christy Gogu   |   August 6, 2014 

Mother's Hope

When I was asked to write on this topic, the heavy ache deep inside my heart that surfaces every so often grew heavier.

I believe being a mother of two little girls in our country’s capital city is definitely a weighty calling. Every day the local newspapers, without fail, have at least one horrid story of crime against women and/or children. Is it even possible for me to see off my four-year-old to school in the school bus every day without worrying about her well-being? Can I ensure that nothing horrible will happen to her? It’s next to impossible!

As much as I’d like to, I simply cannot keep my girls within my sight all day long even during these tender childhood years let alone in their teenage or later. I have to let them go at some point. What I often ask myself is whether or not I am doing all that is in my hands to ensure the safety of my child in my absence. Am I training her enough, even at this young age, to protect herself against predators that seem to be lurking at every street corner, every marketplace, even in school gyms? And more than the stranger, how do I teach her to be wary of the friends and relatives who might try to abuse her trust someday?

Not one day has passed since my first baby girl was born that I have not thought about how to keep her safe from sexual predators, especially since she was an exceptionally friendly toddler who loved strangers! I have wondered how to teach her to be kind, gentle and loving, yet to protect herself from the darkness that lies within the heart of man. How do I overcome my own paranoia and see male relatives as simply doting over my daughters and nothing more? Is it even possible for me to teach her to strike a balance at this young age? Will all my training make her fearful and generally distrustful of all men with the exception of her own father? How will this affect her life decisions in the future? Will she ever be able to build friendships and even healthy professional relationships with other men? Even today, I find myself unable to answer these questions satisfactorily.

Oh, how I wish that our daughters didn't have to shoulder the burden of constantly protecting themselves against unknown predators but could simply enjoy their lives without any cares in the world.

Every other week I go through the drill with her. From asking questions about the bus ‘bhaiya’ and skating instructor in the school to reminding her about the ‘password’ in case I don’t turn up at the bus stop and someone else comes to pick her.  Sometimes, the discussions are casual and routine when I tell her not to go with a stranger who offers a candy or ice cream, or that it’s OK to refuse to sit with people who make her ‘uncomfortable’ even if they are mamma or dadda’s good friends. She has heard it so often that she now brushes it off saying, ‘Yes, mama, I know it.’

But other times I have to stop myself when I see MY fear in HER eyes. The other day during the password drill, she was almost teary eyed and asked me, ‘mamma, but why won’t you be there at the bus stop? Will something bad happen to you?’ I just reassured her, calmly, that perhaps someday I could be unwell or busy with something else and can’t be there at the bus stop on time. It’s difficult to know how to instruct and not terrify her as she is still so young and unable to understand the dangers in the world.

In the end, I can only equip my girls as much as possible and pray, trusting that ultimately only God can protect them. After all He loves my daughters more than I could ever. He has invested in their eternity! And even if He allows something to happen, I pray to have the faith to understand that He knows what He is doing and that He can use every experience to build us and bring us closer to Him.

And if something should happen to her, whether she may understand what has happened to her or not, I want her to know one thing-- that she can come to me no matter what the circumstances and that she will be understood and defended. Also, I want her to know that as much as I’d do anything to prevent her from experiencing pain of any sort, it’s not the end of her world if she does. That she will have many more beautiful days and experiences to look forward to, even though the present challenges may feel overwhelming.

It is my hope that despite any experience that this world might throw at her, she will grow to be strong in the Lord and trust Him with everything. A woman who can look back at her difficult experiences as the dark threads in the tapestry of her life that only render the brighter threads to stand out even more and make the whole picture of her life beautifully complete.

If you are a mother of a daughter, what is your hope for her as she faces the challenges of being a girl in this culture?

 

Photo used with permission from C. Winfield

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Christy Gogu

Christy Gogu is currently pursuing a doctorate in the field of Design. She lives in New Delhi and loves traveling with her husband and two young daughters, hanging out with friends over a cup of chai or dessert, watching movies and exercising.

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16 comments on “An Indian Mother's Hope for Her Daughters”

  1. Not a mother yet but I find myself in the same spot trying to make young mothers I meet in the slums aware of the need to protect & educate their little girls about the same. Extremely encouraged by your courage, I'm sure it wasn't easy to write this down. Thank you Christy. Much love.

    1. Am glad you are encouraged, Maria. Yes, it was quite difficult to put my fears into writing. But again, God can use even these fears to encourage others. You are doing a great job at the slums! Keep it up! love.

  2. Thank you Christie! So real is this fear. I appreciate the matter-of-factness you display towards the end - painful yet strong!

    1. Yes, our experiences can be painful at times, but we have to choose whether to let them define us or not. Coming out stronger and closer to God is definitely the better option. Thanks for appreciating!

  3. That was a wonderful post Akka.. The blog voiced every fear I had for my daughter. I hope that Zanna would grow up to be a person who believes that God is her strong fortress..

    1. Thanks Ashi! Yes, we are together in this fear but let us not be crippled by it. We have to be on guard for our children and educate them about what is acceptable and what is not! Zanna is adorable. Yes, isn't that a beautiful hope. Look forward to meeting you and her soon and we'll chat more.

  4. This piece was well written and really resonated with me even though I have no children just yet. I often wonder what I would say to my own children with regard to issues such as this, and I can only hope I possess the same understanding and faith that you do. I'm looking forward to more posts on this blog

    1. Thanks Sanam! God gives us the faith and understanding as and when we need it. So don't worry about it! And then we are here, at this blog, to share our experiences and learning. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I am so proud of you. Very well written. You are the best blessing I have ever received...and now my beautiful daughters are blessed too to have a mother like you.

  6. Very well expressed! I have a little girl as new as four months and I already know that hope that our 'God works all things for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose' is the only thing that quells my evey fear - not just for the days to come, but so much more for the here and now when she is most dependent.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  7. I'm an American married to an Indian also living in Delhi NCR and I just had a little girl. One thing I've noticed since I've moved here is the rampant fear. I actually moved here less than a month before the Delhi bus rape case and my in-laws and beloved went super paranoid and I was basically put on lockdown. It was suffocating. During a time when I should have been able to explore my new environment and deal with culture shock I became a prisoner of their fears. I allowed them to do it, which I know now to be a mistake, as the fear crippled and embittered me and really hurt our relationship.

    Now that I have a daughter of my own my plan is to protect her but not burden her. I see the fear in everyone's eyes here and I have no plans to let it infect her. I want her to be cautious, but unafraid. I refuse to let her be a prisoner of fear of evil. We are Christian and our Bible tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power. That is, we believe in a sovereign God. That is not to say that evil doesn't happen, but our Bible teaches that all things work out for the good of those who love God and that our God suffered on our behalf. It is our job to obey Him and He guides us and orders our lives ultimately for good, though there will be suffering in it. And He tells us straight out fear is not from Him. Therefore, as I interpret our faith, whenever we act out of fear we are acting outside the will of God, that we need to trust Him more than we trust our sense of fear. That doesn't mean to act without sense, but one can be cautious without being fearful or paranoid.

    When my child is young I do not plan on burdening her with the knowledge of evil predators. I will teach her some caution around people, teach her to yell if something happens, when she's a bit bigger some self defense moves appropriate to her size (for example, stomping down hard on the top of a foot can often break bones in it even if you're little.) But I'm not going to teach her to fear people and I do not want to demonstrate fear to her.

    Truth is, in America women and children are just as vulnerable to the likelihood of attack as in India, maybe more so depending on the statistics you look at. It's not a perfect culture. However, we aren't raised with nearly as imbedded a sense of fear. Our hearts may pick up pace in certain situations, but we aren't taught to never, ever, ever, ever, ever even think of being in those situations. The thing I've found in India is that instead of putting the burden on society or on the evil men, the burden is placed on women.

    That is, when you hear of an attack on the news instead of saying "Wow, we need to make sure this neighborhood is safer" Indians seem to go "Wow, women need to avoid that neighborhood." In doing this, the evil men are actually empowered because instead of attacking the problem of men gone wrong, they restrict the freedom of innocent women. India, as a society, needs to focus more on "why are our sons doing this???" and less on "how can we keep our daughters from being victims?" As I said, still teach caution, but really it comes down this: good Indian men should spend more energy on cracking down and reforming or imprisoning bad Indian men then on cracking down and restricting the freedom of their wives, daughters, and daughters-in-laws.

    (America needs to do the same thing, but I think it's a bit more balanced.)

    1. Hi Pamela, I agree with the last paragraph where we do need to focus on how women are not victimized and fearful rather are taught to cultivate healthy relationships. I think the article was trying to hint that while we do fear, how can we balance that out with faith. The reality sometimes is that rather than teaching these cautions and safeguards, women tend to be imprisoned. Many children are never taught what is appropriate and what is not. Also while in America the same fears are true, as in any culture, the system does not tend to blame the victim rather than the oppressor, as many of our politicians do. Also the shame culture is so strong that even if a woman is abused by a family member or relative, the family in most cases will protect the abuser rather than the abused, for fear of shame.

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