I’m from a pretty conservative country. The older generations especially believe in the whole “men are providers, women stay at home and give birth” shtick.
We have our own universities, but graduates from foreign universities are more highly regarded and given better pay and positions than local university graduates. This creates a lot of tension. I studied in Australia, but my husband studied at a local university. I made more money than him for a very long time in our marriage until he started his own thing. My mother-in-law hated me from the get go. She only needed to know I had a bachelors to hate me. Then came the “are you going to quit after getting pregnant?” and “wives shouldn’t out earn their husbands”. It never got better.
I got 3 kids – 2 boys and 1 girl. My daughter is the youngest at 18; she recently graduated from high school. She got into the engineering program of her choice in a foreign university and she’s so happy. I’ve tried shielding her from her grandparents sexism her entire life, but I couldn’t. Not anymore.
My daughter adores grandma and fully expected to get the same treatment as her brothers from her when they went to study. She saw how elated and happy mother-in-law was when my sons got into university so she never thought her grandma would treat her news any differently. I tried telling her that grandma might react a bit differently because she’s more old fashioned when it comes to women but she didn’t want to believe it. Her loving grandma would never do something like that to her.
It was heartbreaking to see how excited she was to tell the extended family the news.
We share the news with my in laws, parents and siblings. Everyone is congratulating her, but mother-in-law was being really quiet. Never a good thing when it comes to her. She then absolutely tears into my daughter.
“Why are you going to a foreign university? You can’t get a husband when you come back. A man doesn’t like a woman that earns more money than him” and “Engineering? It’s such a male dominated industry. It’s like that for a reason. It’s better suited for men. Have you looked into *insert number of female dominated industries here* instead?”
My daughter bursts into tears, runs upstairs and locks herself in her room. My husband gets brother in law to drive mother-in-law home. Mother-in-law calls and as soon as I pick up I get an earful about how rude daughter is, what a lucky woman I am since DH is such a good man that he didn’t mind earning less than his wife but my daughter might not be so lucky in the future. I hang up as soon as I hear that. I’ve have around 40 missed calls from her since.
I’m at a loss on how to comfort daughter. Mother-in-law just pulled the rug from under her. How do I tell her that her grandmother is unlikely to change, no matter what we say? She asked me “Did grandma always think that further education for girls is a waste? Does she think my brothers deserve it more?”
The truthful answer to those questions is yes. I’ve been fielding questions from her about “what a waste my daughter’s college fund is” for years. I’ll break her heart if I tell her this.