Even if they are old, Indian parents often choose to stay alone than at their daughter’s marital home.
In Northern Parts of India, there is this saying that you should not even drink a glass of water at their daughter’s marital home. But in North, South, East and West alike, Indian parents, no matter how old and in ill health, prefer to live alone than stay with their daughter in her marital home.
Indian households still see the son as their caregiver in old age, rather than the daughter. Parents can live with their son and daughter-in-law for years, yet hesitate to stay at their daughter’s place for even a week.
This comes from the concept of the daughter being ‘paraya dhan’ – someone else’s property ever since birth. When she is married off, she is sent off to another family and figuratively should cut all ties with her family. And in old days the daughters used to live with their in-laws till they passes away. And in that condition for the daughter’s parents to come to stay at her place would be a bit uncomfortable, as the power dynamics between the two in-laws are different.
Also unlike daughters-in-law, sons-in-law are given an immense amount of respect and reverence. And in certain cultures so is his parents. There is no logic behind this other than the regressive thought that a man is in a higher position than a woman. Also since women traditionally did not work in old days, if her parents stay with her they would be living with their son-in-law’s money and this was unthinkable for them because they consider them beneath the son-in-law and his family.
And this continues even now even if their daughter is working or not working, the parents find it difficult to stay with their sons-in-law under his care and on his money. This is still because sons-in-law are never accepted into the family as sons, but given respect and a higher position. They never become a part of the family, but always sits on pedestals.
All this comes from the core belief that a woman is lesser than a man. And that being the parents of a woman puts them in a lower position than the parents of a man. The social hierarchy is changed and the man’s parents are higher in power.
Perhaps in old times, those in power, that is the man’s parents, did not want their daughter-in-law to ever look after her parents and allow them to live in their household using their money. The daughter-in-law never had that kind of power in the house. However, that conservative thought process need not exist in today’s time when women are earning and making decisions in their household and hold a position equal to the husband in their house.
And taking care of their elderly parents is the duty of every child regardless of their gender. And it is a common belief that daughters take care of their parents better than sons do. So the bridge between the daughter’s marital home and the parents should be sealed with love and care. And even if the daughter is not earning, the son-in-law should be considered as a son enough to be taking care of the parents.