How To Raise A Teenage Daughter With A Healthy Self-esteem

The father and daughter relationship plays a significant role in how successful the daughter will be as a teenager and an adult.

“I am not interested in talking to people. I like to be alone.”

“I don’t want to learn Karate. It is too hard.”

“I don’t want to compere for the school’s annual day.”

“I am ugly.”

Does this sound like your teenage daughter? 

As a mother, you might have dismissed her fears and self-doubt as normal. You may have even labelled her as ‘shy’ or ‘scared’ or ‘uninterested’ or ‘vain’ or ‘fussy’ or simply ‘impossible.’ 

Your teen daughter may or may not be all those labels you gave her. Or she might be dealing with issues of low self-esteem typical of so many other teen girls her age.

Most teenage girls’ self-esteem indeed plummets during puberty. Your spirited 7-year-old daughter, who was roaring with confidence, is now a mellowed-down teen, much like a wounded tigress who stands defeated in a big jungle battle. 

Such seemingly innocent statements as the above will eventually lead your daughter to doubt her actions and capabilities. If left unchecked, it will slowly but surely turn into low self-esteem. Unfortunately, these negative thought patterns will keep resurfacing and haunting her well into her adulthood.

Self-esteem is a major determinant of success in life – be it personal or professional. It is defined by how you evaluate your value and worth. How you feel about yourself is reflected through your behaviour, words, and actions.

Are you paying attention to your teen daughter? 

A teenage girl with high self-esteem is usually independent, takes on responsibilities and challenges readily, tolerates frustration fairly well, handles emotions maturely, and always helps others. 

On the other hand, a teenage girl with low self-esteem does the drastic opposite. She shies away from challenges and responsibilities, blames others for their failures, pretends to be emotionally strong and indifferent, self-deprecates their worth and talents, feels neglected and unloved, and cannot tolerate even the slightest frustration easily susceptible to peer pressure and influence.

Your teenage daughter may fall anywhere in this spectrum of high and low self-esteem. Where do you think she lies at this point in time? 

The Surprising Secret To Build Your Teenage Daughter’s Self Esteem

There have been increasing research studies to prove the connection between a healthy father and daughter relationship and your teenage girl’s self-esteem.

In our society, the spotlight has always been on mothers and their undisputed supremacy in parenting. And rightly so because the entire burden of parenting has always fallen upon women! But this haloed spotlight is unfair to both the mother and the child, and it comes at the critical cost of the father’s role in parenting. 

There is a largely prevalent misconception that the role of a father is a non-issue. And that his absence from his children’s life is completely justified, especially for his daughters.

Dr. Linda Nielsen, an adolescent psychologist and author of ‘Between Fathers and Daughters,’ has been studying father-and-daughter relationships for more than 15 years. She says, 

“It is the society that sends the message that mothers are ideal for raising daughters and fathers should focus on their sons. In comparison, the father-daughter relationship is viewed as secondary to the mother-daughter relationship. The father-son relationship is universally seen as important, where the boy needs his father as a positive role-model as he grows into a man. But his relationship with his daughter is just not viewed as important as with his son.”

At the same time, it is also true that today’s fathers are more ‘hands-on’ than ever before in their daughter’s lives. Be it changing her diapers, brushing her hair into pigtails, pushing her in the pram, teaching her to swim or play basketball!  

However, once his daughter attains puberty, it is the mother’s turf now. Unfortunately, many fathers make the crucial mistake of backing off after their daughter’s puberty, failing to realise that it is in the adolescent stage that they are most needed in their daughter’s life.

How a father has the greatest impact on his daughter’s success

Several scientific studies have proven that the father’s active role in his teenage daughter’s life affects how her nervous system is wired. 

A father’s presence significantly contributes to his daughter’s overall health – physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.

Here are specific areas in which a father majorly impacts his teenage girl’s life. 

1. Self-Image

When your daughter sees that her father treats you and all the women in his life with respect, love, pride, and joy, he is essentially teaching her to perceive her self-image in a similarly positive way. They see their mirror image in their father’s eyes. Loving, respectful, and supportive husbands subconsciously and automatically reinforce their daughters’ self-worth as a woman.

2. Body Image

Different from self-esteem, body image is how we view ourselves physically.

Dr. Margo Maine, a clinical psychologist and author of the book ‘Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters and the Pursuit of Thinness’ clarifies- 

“Daughters of fathers who are emotionally distant are more likely to struggle with issues around food and weight.” 

Usually, fathers are uncomfortable talking to their daughters about anything related to their bodies, leave alone discussing body image. As a result, most fathers feel incompetent and inadequate talking about the subject. But fathers must break that mental block and approach this subject fearlessly and normally. 

It is a good idea for you to pitch in at the start to support and guide your husband. You can tell your husband to avoid commenting negatively about you, your daughters, or other women. Make it a family norm to avoid references such as ‘that fat woman’ or any form of body shaming. More importantly, pay attention and bring to his notice the way your husband views and talks about his body.

3. Behavioural and social traits

Teenage daughters of loving and appreciative fathers exhibit positive behavioural traits. They usually grow up to be well-adjusted, balanced, and confident women. On the other hand, women who take the path of depression, substance abuse, and psychological problems may be the possible outcome of negligent fathers.

Studies have proven that daughters who communicate regularly with their fathers in a healthy, positive way are freely able to articulate and express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions with others as well. In addition, they can communicate socially with both men and women with equal adeptness and ease with no fear or hesitation. 

4. Love and relationships

Adolescent psychologist Dr. Linda Nielsen says, 

“The quality of a daughter’s relationship with her father is always affecting her relationships with men – either in good ways or in bad ways. When a woman doesn’t trust men, can’t maintain an ongoing relationship, doesn’t know how to communicate, or is co-dependent, this is probably because her relationship with her father lacked trust and/or communication.”

Your daughter would seek qualities of mutual love and respect in her own relationships if her parents shared a similar bond. Fathers set the tone for their daughter’s relationships with all the other men in her life – friends, colleagues, lovers, spouse, etc. It helps her gauge her relationships with men, including the platonic kind, the healthy boundaries to maintain, how she views men and expects to be treated by them.

5. Academic and professional excellence

Daughters with a strong bond with their fathers score higher in complex subjects such as advanced math and science and excel overall in academics. In addition, their academic confidence and self-motivation levels tend to be usually high.

Women who have broken the glass ceiling barriers and are in top leadership and management positions across the industry, academia, or are top performers in sports give credit to their father’s role in their success story. They cite their fathers for having been their mentors, raising them to be tough and assertive individuals who can sustain and thrive in a highly competitive environment.

Top tips for fathers to improve the bond with their teen daughter

One of the most common traditional fathering styles is the ‘authoritative parenting.’ Think of one of the popular Hindi father and daughter songs Baapu sehat ke liye tu to hanikarak hai from Dangal film. This fathering style is loving and warm yet comes with strict accountability to authority, rules, and responsibility. 

But, fathers make the most effective parents when they share a close relationship with their daughters, evolving and maturing with time. Yet maintains that delicate balance of setting appropriate rules and granting the power of freedom that comes with responsibility.

An involved father playing a central part in his daughter’s life is important for her self-esteem as she grows up. Here’s how the father of daughters can get involved in their adolescent lives for their wellbeing and success. 

1. Show up and listen without judgement 

Get involved in your teenager’s life right now. 

Don’t pass the responsibility to her mother all the time. Your daughter needs to know that you are present in her little big achievements – her school performances, parent-teacher meetings, or sports events. 

You can make a huge difference by doing something as simple as showing up. Give her the opportunity to ‘show off’ to you when you ‘show up’ for her. Let her bare her soul to you whenever she falters to move on. 

The act of listening to your daughter is priceless. Practise the art of active listening without voicing your opinions and judgements. 

Your teen girl needs to feel that she can trust you with her problems, and you will understand and empathise with her. Doing so will help her trust her gut, build her self-awareness and raise her confidence.

2. Find and encourage her mojo

Give your teenager the freedom to explore, experiment, enjoy whatever she gravitates towards in life—her mojo. 

What is your teenager naturally drawn towards? 

What is her mojo that keeps her truly happy, passionate, and satisfied?

As fathers, you can help your daughter find her mojo and explore avenues to help her utilise her natural gifts. It will tremendously boost her self-esteem and confidence. It is crucial for your daughter that you, her father, acknowledge her interests and passion. Else, she might start doubting her own strengths, talents, and abilities.

3. Words are her building blocks

Your teenage girl is graduating into a young woman. Her self-esteem is fragile at this stage.

The words you speak to your daughter leave a powerful and lasting impact on them.

Your words are a reflection of your beliefs about them. What you believe about your daughter shows up in what you say to them and about them. Your daughter internalises everything that you say and starts to believe it. 

Use your words wisely to make and not break them. Choose positive words of love, encouragement, and inspiration. Make sure you look into her eyes and mean all those wonderful things you say to her. Remember, your daughter sees her self-worth in your eyes.

4. Love her for who she is and not what she achieves 

It is vital to your teenage daughter that you, her father, love her for the person she is and not for her achievements. 

The last thing you want is for her to constantly achieve as it’s the only way to receive your love and attention. Irrespective of her achievements in life, she needs to feel valued and loved for the person she is.

While it does mean a lot to your daughter that you appreciate her hard work and performance, it means a lot more to her when you focus on the character traits that stitch her personality. 

Praise and love her for her honesty, kindness, congeniality, courage, or ethics. And, she will surely grow up to be a self-assured and resilient person irrespective of the ‘ups and downs’ in life.

5. Push her out of her comfort zone

A girl’s brain is physiologically different from a boy’s when it comes to risk-taking and the fear of failure.

As fathers, you can do your teenage girl a whole lot of good by constantly challenging her to come out of her comfort zone. Primarily through her childhood and teen years because that is when her brain is the most elastic.

Again, a guy thing, men’s interaction style is usually to do something together. This typical quality comes in handy when spending some quality shared time with your teen girl. 

Find activities that both of you are interested in. The chances are that the two of you will share many similar interests and likes. 

Here is your chance make exclusive dad-daughter memories. Research proves that teen girls who share regular activities with their fathers exhibit higher levels of self-esteem than those who don’t. So dads, listen to music, dance together, go on a fun date, hike, swim, and cook. Your daughter will look forward to your time together with eager anticipation.

Make her ‘Daddy’s strong girl.’

‘Daddy’s little girl’ might sound cutesy. But in reality, overprotecting and treating your daughter like a delicate flower isn’t helping – rather hurting her. Resist the temptation to be her’ knight in shining armour’ each time she falls.

This might sound like a stereotype, but men usually like to be the problem solvers. Resist your manly urge and let your daughter take charge of her problems. Encourage her by asking her how she would resolve her problems and let her figure out possible solutions after weighing the pros and cons. 

Teach her to change a car tire, make her financially literate and wise, encourage her to be physically fit and mentally strong, educate her about the dangers of the real world, including sex offenders. 

The good news is that this persistent challenge to push her limits will completely rewire her brain structure, enabling her to take more risks later on in life. So, your daughter will confidently take up challenges and risks without the fear of failure. 

6. Let her know it’s okay to be the ‘angry young woman’

Dr. Linda Nielsen, an adolescent psychologist and author, insists that it’s high time to dispel the stereotype that women should avoid confrontation at all costs. 

Her advice for young girls? 

“To accept and embrace their anger and assertiveness.”

She says, 

“While this does not mean indulging her temper, it’s important that when there is conflict, a father engages with his daughter, instead of allowing the mother to step in as an intermediary. A girl has to be really comfortable expressing her anger and being assertive. If she can’t do it with her dad, she won’t be able to do it with a male boss, boyfriend, and others who are all the way down the line. A father needs to ‘receive’ her anger and assertiveness rather than punish her for it. He can also compliment her for expressing herself honestly and assertively.”

Fathers, don’t raise your teenage girl to be a passive ‘pleaser’. Also, enrolling your adolescent daughter in sports is a wise decision as it will teach her the quality of assertiveness.

7. Make her media literate

Media and technology are a double-edged sword, and our children are born into the technological age. 

Several studies have shown how social media causes severe depression, low self-esteem, and body image issues in teen girls. The constant pressure to look happy, strong, sexy, hot, intelligent, independent, in short, ‘look perfect’ breeds a lot of insecurity and anxiety in teenagers. 

The way women are projected in the media doesn’t help build the self-esteem of young teen girls either. That is why it is essential to make your teenager media literate. 

You can do this simply by watching TV shows and movies with her, having discussions around them, making her prudent to know the difference between right and wrong. Help her to be a good critic in decoding and filtering media messages. Expose the unrealistic standards of beauty as portrayed in the media, as well as the rampant sexism.

According to Jean Kilbourne, author, and motivational speaker, 

“The media, in particular the Western, sends girls harmful messages about beauty and the value of women. There is so much peer pressure on young teenage girls to have that perfect body, and it is so easy for many of them to feel insecure.” 

8. Celebrate her mind

Let your daughter know that you see her beauty inside out. Let her be aware that you see her intelligence, skills, talents, passion, character apart from being just a pretty face. 

Encourage her to get into the habit of reading. Start with a few minutes a day and gradually increase the time spent reading. Take an interest in her academic learning. Have thought-provoking conversations and discussions around current world affairs, science, and technology, challenge her to solve puzzles and complex math problems, and play a chess game together.

9. Model a loving relationship 

The best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother. Fathers, model a respectful and loving relationship with your wife as your daughter will expect to be treated the same way in all her relationships. 

Also, show your teenager that equality between men and women in a relationship must be the norm and not the exception. 

Refrain from any sexist jokes about husband-wife relationships, mother-in-law caricaturing, etc., as it sends a wrong message to young, impressionable minds.

Dr. Linda Nielsen says, 

“A father can help his daughter build strong relationships in the future by teaching her to be herself. And not change like a chameleon to try to suit the man she’s with.”

10. Talk about sex and sexuality

As a father, you can demystify the male mind and talk about boys to your curious daughter. You can tell her just how awkward adolescence is for teenage boys, and everyone has their self-doubts, issues, and the emotional need for healthy relationships. 

It is important to teach her to respect her body, resisting peer pressure, maintaining her dignity, understanding boundaries, the significance of consent, trust, and fidelity in relationships.

11. Embrace vulnerability

In many cultures, men shedding tears is considered a sign of weakness. Real men don’t cry! 

But this comes in the way of the father-daughter bond. Especially when she is going through a rough patch and is highly sensitive and vulnerable, do not bother about societal dictums. 

Go ahead and show your vulnerable side to your daughter. Let her see the ‘real’ you. There is no shame in showing your weakness and faults. Life is not perfect, and so aren’t you. Doing so will bring you both closer and make your bond stronger.

According to Santiago Trabolsi, a psychologist, life coach, and dad, 

“When you as a father show your own weakness, it gives permission for your daughter to accept her weaknesses. This emotional connection generates warmth, empathy and honest communication between the two of you.”

12. Don’t hold back those hugs and kisses 

Just because your young girl is now a teenager, it doesn’t mean you cannot touch, hug and kiss her as you usually did from the moment she was born. 

Studies prove that such physical reminders of love aid considerably in building her self-esteem. Adolescent psychologist Dr. Linda Nielsen weighs in, 

“Fathers have been told by society that it is inappropriate for them to hug their daughters once they start to mature sexually — past the age of 12 or so. He should ignore this training and give her big bear hugs when he feels like it. It’s important because it’s just one more way of showing her that he is not uncomfortable with her growing up, with her becoming a sexual person or with her maturing body.”

Give her thoughtful gifts. It could be anything, even a handwritten letter expressing your love and support like Prakash Padukone’s loving letter to his daughter Deepika Padukone.

Let her be

Let your special dad-daughter moments add to building confidence in your teenager, who will grow up to be a strong woman. As for mothers, encourage more father-daughter time and honour the importance of a father’s role, perspective, wisdom, and patience.

Finally, please remember that every individual is unique and will respond at their own pace. Be patient with your teenager and give them all the time and space to be comfortable to accept, bloom and flourish in this new phase of life. 

Ensure both of you, her parents, are always there for her, keeping the channels of communication open. It is only a matter of time then for your teenage girl to be flying high with her newfound sense of freedom, confidence, and a high level of self-esteem.

In conclusion, I leave you this informational video by Dr. Meg Meeker, renowned psychologist (and one of my personal favourites) titled ‘Good dads — the real game changers.’ 

How I Reclaimed My Love For Reading Fiction Stories

Books were my best friends in childhood. I loved snuggling up to a classic fiction book after coming back from school and getting lost in between its pages. But someway down the line, as I metamorphosed into adulthood, I ditched fiction books. Maybe I had too much of it! I don’t have a definite answer. 

There was a phase when I thought I’d outgrown fiction completely and preferred to read a handy nonfiction book or magazine instead. I’d read fiction sporadically. But all that’s changed this year as I’ve vowed to read fiction with regularity, and openness.

My biggest investment this year has been in books – fiction and nonfiction. To give you a sneak peek, some of my recent book investments include HBR on People Management, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I buy the paperback version if the books seem to be a keeper and the Kindle version if I don’t want to clutter my home. 

Like my childhood, books have proved to be my most loyal friends in this pandemic, helping me to cope with it one day at a time. I’ve found joy and solace in poetry, particularly lately, and more so during the pandemic. Music, movies, and TV shows come a close second.

#BlogchatterA2Z Challenge 2021 boosted my reading goals

One way I reclaimed my love for reading fiction this year was to participate in the #BlogchatterA2ZChallenge. I tied the theme to my reading goals and decided to read and analyze one short story every day.

This year’s challenge was hectic considering that the news of the pandemic affecting loved ones and beyond took a mental toll on me. Also, the fact that reading was a fraction of my challenge. The other parts were writing the story analysis and designing the blog creatives. A single post took nothing less than two hours to an entire day. Sometimes it spilled over to the next day with my juggling work commitments.

But it was well worth it! It introduced me to even more eclectic reading recommendations to keep me busy for a long time. I’ve also realized that I’m not the slow reader that I thought I was. When you read consistently every day, your reading speed improves drastically. What’s more? I’ve got my childhood days back again. 

Let’s do a quick recap of my short story reading collection last month. 

I started with Sticks by George Saunders that makes you explore the complexity of the human psyche and empathize with its flawed (almost bordering on mental instability) characters. 

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is a feminist story of a daughter and mother wrangled in a patriarchal society. 

Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway offers a lesson on using the Iceberg technique for writers and a substantial and thought-provoking story for the readers. 

The Girls In Their Summer Dresses by Irwin Shaw is a thoroughly entertaining story about the male gaze and pretension in some marriages. 

If you’re too scared to read horror, then maybe The Haunted House by Virginia Woolf can make you change your mind. It’s a story that’ll make you fall in love with ghosts and literature. Be warned that this horror story reads less like one and more like literary prose. It’s Virginia Woolf that we are talking about here! Hello! 

Want to know how to throw a solid punch into your story? Read The Story Of An Hour by Kate Chopin, where the author makes every single word count. If brevity is the sign of wit, then this story makes a fine case example. 

An Astrologer’s Day by R. K. Narayan takes you to a bygone era in a fictional Indian town. Narayan has a knack for weaving absorbing stories that leave an indelible impression in his readers’ minds. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this utterly crazy and ingenious story titled Sredni Vashtar by H. H. Munro (Saki.) Saki subverts childhood and all the attributes attached to it like simplicity, innocence, or goodness in this fun, satisfyingly devious read. 

The Falling Girl by Dino Buzzati is a whacky, light, and lingering short story. What Buzzati does in The Fallen Girl is extraordinary, and how he makes a social commentary via the course of Marta’s life. 

Eveline by James Joyce plays upon the dichotomy of fear and hope among women in toxic relationships. Which emotion wins? You’ll have to read this well-crafted story to find out. 

Julian Barnes uses the techniques of literary minimalism and symbolism in Marriage Lines, a sweet, tender, poignant love story. The irony is that the author talks about everything in the story but love. Yet, what a great tribute it is to love and the institution that is marriage!

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez is a straightforward story narrated with a detailed description in chronological order. It takes an anti-establishment stance with elements of magical realism and satire. 

There’s nothing like a good old classic tale like The Last Leaf by O. Henry in the current direst pandemic times. The Last Leaf is the kind of story that you will keep coming back to from time to time for hope, strength, and love.

Bharati Mukherjee has written The Management of Grief with admirable sensitivity and empathy. I highly recommend this outstanding story despite it being a discomforting read.

The Smallest Woman In The World by Clarice Lispector is a beautiful, fantastical story about diversity, inclusiveness, humanity, and the art of living.

In A Hunger Artist, Franz Kafka explores the theme of hunger as it takes on different meanings and interpretations, delving into metaphysical realms. It’s written in a style that’s reminiscent of the biblical parables. 

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is an atmospheric horror story that portrays the dark side of tradition, the isolation of its women, and their continued persecution for society’s well-being and honour.

God Sees The Truth, But Waits by Leo Tolstoy is a deep, philosophically rich story that reminds you of the mortality and futility of life and the preparation for the real journey thereafter.

The Swimmer by John Cheever is a brilliant satire on the great American dream, the privilege and facade of the upper-middle class and the elite, the crumbling of the family system, and the moral degradation of American society. 

The Velds by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian science fiction story that makes a surreal read in 2021. It shatters the notion that humans are the most superior beings on earth. 

Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain is a futuristic sci-fi feminist story far ahead of its time, a progressive story that deals with the subjects of feminism, education, and environmentalism.

Counted among his greatest short stories, Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a story of lofty ambitions and unbridled passion. It’s storytelling at its best. Highly recommend it! 

The Lady With The Dog by Anton Chekhov is a story about a clandestine love relationship between Dimitri Gurov and Anna Sergeyevna, who are unhappy with their marriage partners. Gurov and Anna’s love story is messy, complicated, beautiful, and defies all logic. 

One of his earlier stories, A Thousand Deaths by Jack London, is a bizarre Frankenstein-style science fiction story. 

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman is a chilling retelling of the old German fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers in 1812. A must-read for all Gaiman fans and definitely not for children!

The Signalman by Charles Dickens is a psychological horror story that will stay eerily in your mind and haunt you forever.

With that, I’ve completed my third A2ZChallenge with Blogchatter this year. I feel so accomplished already and cannot wait to participate again.

Third time, baby!

What’s next?

I will continue to read short stories and poems and mix that up with novels and thought-provoking and relevant nonfiction. 

It’s a whole new exciting world out there that beckons. Stay safe and happy reading, folks! Until next time! 

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Man, Please Don’t Preach About Divorce If You Haven’t Heard HER Story

I’ve never understood the fuss over Bill Gates and Melinda Gates divorce in a country where divorce is normalized. But, we cannot say the same for our country, India, where divorce is still taboo in 2021.

What makes it even tougher is when you have sexists all over the place and in your face, spreading their tentacles like monster green creeper plants across all sections of our society.

Indian billionaire Harsh Goenka recently made a deeply problematic and sexist comment on Twitter.

“Bill Gates divorced.

Jeff Bezos divorced.

Moral: Don’t earn so much money that the wife finds divorce alimony more appealing than the husband. Keep spending money on yourself.”

Unfortunately, this tweet by Goenka is no joke. The man’s preaching to his fellow countrymen to be wise, not to trust their wives, and spend their money on themselves. Goenka’s moral of the story is a fucking lie in a country where we put our goddesses on a shiny pedestal, and we literally and metaphorically rape our women daily.  

If Goenka’s message is aimed at all poor and naive countrymen, then perhaps he could ask them to develop some aatmanirbharta and stop asking for dowry. Maybe he could tell them to stop treating their daughters like pariahs and giving them away like a commodity in marriage as free labour. Perhaps he could tell them not to treat their women worse than their gaumata. Maybe he could tell them not to be a rich arse like him, who can buy everything in the world except grace, fairness, and empathy. 

The divorce rate in India is 1%, and it gives the illusion of successful marriages here. The credit for these figures goes entirely to our rigid patriarchal system, which has thwarted the freedom and dreams of millions of women by relegating them to their kitchen and caregiving duties for life for their spouse and family. If the woman brings in dowry and a working woman with no financial charge, that’s hitting the jackpot for our men. 

“So, the question is, who are the real gold-diggers here, Mr. Goenka?” 

Don’t play innocent and give a long rope to your gender for their misgivings. There is persistent discrimination against women, denying them equal land and property rights as they own less than 20% of the world’s land.

So, what’s HER story? 

Both Melinda Gates and Mackenzie Scott are as ingenious as their ex-spouses, if not more.

Melinda Gates is an American businesswoman and philanthropist. As a child, she was brilliant in academics and put in the advanced math class, and her first job was tutoring children in mathematics and computer programming. She joined Microsoft in their product development team in 1987. 

Melinda Gates was responsible for the development of various multimedia products such as Cinemania, Encarta, Publisher, Microsoft Bob, Money, Works (Macintosh), and Word. She was later appointed as the General Manager of Information Products in Microsoft but quit the company to focus on family and philanthropic work.

Let’s also not forget that Mackenzie Scott is the co-founder of Amazon. She built the company from scratch, literally the couple’s garage, including putting her finances into it. She contributed to the company’s name, business plan, accounts, and shipping early orders. 

Scott was always a writer at heart, with her first book at the age of six, The Book Worm, a 142-page book destroyed in flood. Her first job was at D. E. Shaw in New York, as a research associate where she worked to “pay the bills while working on her novels.” Jeff Bezos, the then vice-president at D. E. Shaw, took her interview, which also happened to be their first meeting. 

When Amazon began to succeed, Scott took a less active role in the company to pursue her writing career and concentrate on family and philanthropy. She wrote her debut novel in 2005, The Testing of Luther Albright, which won her the American Book Award (2006.) It took her 10 years to write her debut alongside building Amazon with her husband, birthing three children, adopting one child, and raising four children. Her writing mentor, Toni Morrison, had this to say about her debut book – “a rarity: a sophisticated novel that breaks and swells the heart.” Scott is currently married to Dan Jewett, a high school chemistry teacher.

It’s extremely callous and in poor taste for Harsh Goenka to dismiss the achievements of two highly successful and powerful women in their own right and insinuate that they are gold diggers.

But that’s not the only bone of contention here. A woman doesn’t need to be a Melinda Gates or Mackenzie Scott for her to be respected, heard, and given the empathy she deserves.

Do men like to have the cake and eat it too? 

It’s also an eye-brow-raising concern that while Harsh Goenka dismisses women as gold diggers, he doesn’t prescribe divorce as the solution, thus further propagating the stigma around divorce in our country.

Goenka’s marriage advice to men reminds me of a friend who’s currently in a live-in relationship with a married man. The man claims he’s been forcibly married to a woman who’s his parent’s choice. Both his parents are no more, and he’s left his wife alone and moved cities on the excuse of work. He met my spinster friend on Tinder and started living with her. He’s convinced his girlfriend that divorce is a long-drawn procedure that might take several years, and he’s trying to find legal ways to escape alimony since he claims he doesn’t have much money with him. So, he doesn’t want to hold back his girlfriend, who’s madly in love with him, and she’s free to move out and find another partner whenever she feels like it. Isn’t it a classic case of having your cake and eating it too?

I hope Goenka didn’t mean not spending money on alleged gold-digger wives and instead on alleged gold-digger girlfriends. 

Man, why you so complicated, huh? And then we women are accused of being complicated beings?

Don’t presume why anyone’s marriage fell apart!

Coming back to Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or whosoever’s divorce, how can anyone be sure of what transpired in these marriages and dole out a highly judgemental “moral of the story” blanket statement?

While I don’t want to speculate on matters I am not sure about yet, I’ll conclude with what journalist Rohini Singh had to say in response to Harsh Goenka’s tweet.  

“It appears Bill Gates was preying on women in his office and was also had a disturbingly close relationship with a paedophile. New York Times says the relationship with the paedophile is what bothered Melinda Gates. You don’t think those are serious issues?”

I want to add, isn’t it ironic for a billionaire like Harsh Goenka to blacklist the female gender as untrustworthy, gold-diggers?  

If you’ve not cared to listen to both sides of the story, man, please don’t preach! 

Story Analysis of ‘The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens

I bring you a ‘Read of the Day,’ a short story in English, so that we can indulge in the joy of reading. You can visit my site for a short story with analysis and participate in the discussion in the comments.

Read of the Day 

Today, we will read The Signalman by Charles Dickens. You can read the short story online here.

About the Author 

Charles Dickens was an English author and social critic. Considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian era and literary genius, he wrote hundreds of short stories, fifteen novels, five novellas, and several essays without formal education. Some of Dicken’s famous writings include Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Christmas Carol.

Story Analysis 

The Signalman by Charles Dickens is a psychological horror story first published in the Christmas edition of All the Year Round (1866). 

The story begins with the hook line by the narrator, a traveller at the railway signalman below. 

‘Halloa! Below there!’

But the signalman doesn’t respond as expected by the narrator, who prods on with another call. 

‘Is there any path by which I can come down and speak to you?’

This time, the signalman responds reluctantly, and the two soon befriend each other. The signalman takes the traveller into his box, where the traveller learns more about him. The signalman seems far more intelligent than his job role and admits having wasted his youth years. However, he has no regrets, or so he says to that effect. 

When the traveller lays the bait that the signalman seemed content, that’s when the latter confides in his new friend that it was the opposite case. The signalman was very troubled. But he asks the traveller to visit him tomorrow night when he would reveal the reason. Before parting, the signalman asks the traveller, 

What made you cry ‘Halloa! Below there!’ to-night?’

‘Heaven knows,’ said I. ‘I cried something to that effect—-’

‘Not to that effect, sir. Those were the very words. I know them well.’

‘Admit those were the very words. I said them, no doubt, because I saw you below.’

‘For no other reason?’

‘What other reason could I possibly have!’

‘You had no feeling that they were conveyed to you in any supernatural way?’

‘No.’

He wished me good night, and held up his light. I walked by the side of the down Line of rails (with a very disagreeable sensation of a train coming behind me), until I found the path.

At this point, the story takes supernatural turns with an ending that leaves more questions in the reader’s mind than answers. It’s a story that you can dissect and interpret in various ways. The signalman is wise, and when he talks in an otherworldly zone, you can choose to take him at face value or, well, not.. The story could also serve as a metaphor for the helplessness of individuals when they are unable to save not just others but also themselves. 

Whatever be your interpretation of The Signalman by Charles Dickens, the story will stay eerily in your mind and haunt you forever. How did you like the story?

Story Analysis of ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’ by Neil Gaiman

It’s Day 25 of the #A2ZChallenge. This year, I invite you to read and discuss short stories with me. Each day, I bring you a ‘Read of the Day,’ a short story in English, so that we can indulge in the joy of reading. You can visit my site daily for a short story with analysis and participate in the discussion in the comments.

Read of the Day 

Today, we will read Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman. You can read the short story online here.

About the Author 

Neil Gaiman is an award-winning English author. He’s won numerous awards for his writings, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards. He’s also the first author to win the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same book, The Graveyard Book. His other notable work includes The Sandman comic book series, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. 

Story Analysis 

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman was written in 1994, and since then, has been adapted into various mediums. The graphic novels by Dark Horse Comics won the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium, and The Horror Writers Association’s Snow, Glass, Apples graphic novel, which bagged the Bram Stoker Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel Award.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman is a chilling retelling of the old German fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers in 1812. The story became a worldwide phenomenon after the Walt Disney animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. 

But unlike the Grimm Brothers version, the Disney adaptation was heavily whitewashed. Neil Gaiman’s adaptation of Snow White is in line with the Grimm brothers’ version; it’s as dark, or if not more dark than the original version. The Grimm brothers’ version had themes of revenge, murder, and sexual jealousy. Neil Gaiman’s version has all these and more, including pedophilia, incest, filicide, necrophilia, vampirism, and cannabilism. 

What’s interesting is that Neil Gaiman doesn’t touch or alter the story structure. You have the same characters: the king, stepmother, Snow White or the stepdaughter, dwarfs, and the prince. The same passionate courtship of the king and the stepmother, or the stepmother’s magical mirror and powers. 

As in the original story, the Queen orders Snow White’s heart to be cut out. 

“And some say (but it is her lie, not mine) that I was given the heart, and that I ate it. Lies and half-truths fall like snow, covering the things that I remember, the things I saw. A landscape, unrecognisable after a snowfall; that is what she has made of my life.”

Snow White survives in the forest with the dwarfs. The iconic poisoning of the apple by the Queen to kill Snow White is still there in Gaiman’s version. The prince finds the dead Snow White and revives her to life. In the end, the Queen is executed, and the Prince and Snow White live happily ever after. 

But what makes Neil Gaiman’s story starkly different is the subversion of the characters and their motivations. The story then becomes brand new, even with familiar characters and story plot. 

Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples is retold from the stepmother’s perspective, who is also the story’s narrator. The stepmother who becomes the Queen looks back in hindsight and muses over the past. 

“I did not do this thing, and we pay for our mistakes.”

Gaiman’s description of Snow White is in line with the Grimm Brothers’ version of the fairy tale and yet takes on a wholly different meaning. 

“I shall think instead of the snowflake on her cheek.

I think of her hair as black as coal, her lips as red as blood, her skin, snow-white.”

Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples is so evil that it’s good with its deviant characters and explicit, perverse happenings. 

“You can ride through the forest for a dozen days and never see a soul; but there are eyes upon you the entire time.”

He implored me to say nothing. He spread my legs apart… “Please,” he said, softly. “You must neither move, nor speak. Just lie there on the stones, so cold and so fair.”

Gaiman likened the desired effect of his twisted retelling in Snow, Glass, Apples to that of a virus when he said,

“There are definitely stories where I just wanted to try to essentially do a magic trick – it’s ‘Snow White’, but I’m going to show it to you in a mirror so you’ve never seen it like this before. And you’ll never be able to think of it in the same way ever again”. 

Snow, Glass, Apples is a must-read for all Neil Gaiman fans for its brilliant retelling of a popular children’s story in a whole new dark. And oh, this version is definitely not for children.  

What are your thoughts on Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman? 

*I’m participating in the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge.

Story Analysis of ‘A Thousand Deaths’ by Jack London

It’s Day 24 of the #A2ZChallenge. This year, I invite you to read and discuss short stories with me. Each day, I bring you a ‘Read of the Day,’ a short story in English, so that we can indulge in the joy of reading. You can visit my site daily for a short story with analysis and participate in the discussion in the comments.

Read of the Day 

Today, we will read A Thousand Deaths by Jack London. You can read the short story online here.

About the Author 

More popularly known as Jack London, John Griffith London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He broke the ‘starved writer’ perception by becoming an international celebrity and earning a fortune from his writing. He is considered a pioneer of commercial fiction and American magazine and an innovator in the science fiction genre. Some of his famous works include The Call of the Wild, White Fang, To Build a Fire, The Iron Heel, An Odyssey of the North, Love of Life, The Pearls of Parlay, and The Heathen.

Story Analysis 

A Thousand Deaths by Jack London is a bizarre Frankenstein-style science fiction story written and first published in The Black Cat Magazine 1899.  

It’s a story about a man born and raised in a dysfunctional wealthy nuclear family. His socialite mother is too busy with the vanities of the world, while his scientist father is too engrossed in his research work. The man moves away from his family when he reaches adulthood and goes about his life travelling the world as a sailor.

Until one day, he drowns in the San Francisco Bay during one of his adventurous explorations. When he wakes up, he can see his dead body in an uncomfortable posture and being attended to by two dark-skinned aboriginal men. 

The science fiction story moves into a paranormal space from this juncture and gets into disturbing territories, as it gets more cold and brutal by the end of it. 

 A Thousand Deaths is one of Jack London’s earliest stories, and it explores the dark side of science and technology and the human psyche. 

* I’m participating in the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge.