There is this child, who is in the habit of hitting all other kids without any provocation. She happens to be a girl. The other day, she hit 2-3 kids, who ended up wailing. All of them happened to be boys. I am talking about kids between 2 to 4 years of age. The first thing one of the mothers jokingly said to her son in the process of consoling him is “What! How can you get hit by a girl? Are you going to bring dishonor to us?” She is a friend, more of an acquaintance. But still she is like you, me, people we know, people we are friends with. In other circumstances, I find her condemning the abuse cases, crime against women and generally the status of women in the society. This is how we are. We don’t see the connection between the two.
|Image source: Huffingtonpost|
Honestly, I don’t feel we can change the mindset of current and past generations because it has taken shape over a period of time, influenced by numerous factors. But, future generation? Yes, I think so. As parents of the future generation we have big roles to play in shaping their attitude towards women.
At the cost of sounding politically incorrect, let me confess that I wanted a son because frankly, growing up as a girl has taught me enough lessons to understand that I would not be able to offer her the opportunities and freedom that she deserves. But it looks like I have bargained for myself a much bigger task. There is no wisdom in teaching your daughter to not get raped. It is more relevant to teach our sons to respect other [men or women] individuals, and their opinions and choices. And this calls for a certain mindset which needs to be inculcated right from the time they are born.
Sure, our sons will learn a lot from the outside world but there are several lessons that begin at home.
Perception of women
I have a house help who is a chatterbox. She will discuss all her personal issues and her thinking at length. She is sometimes accompanied by her 10 year old son. I get extremely uncomfortable when she starts talking about how she sees women responsible for every man who strays, how she believes a man is right in hitting his wife if she does something wrong? Is it any rocket science to foresee how her child would grow up to perceive women?
Status of Women at Home
I am a stay-at-home mom by choice, and I take immense pride in it. I am empowered to take that decision and my decisions are respected in my household. Nobody tells me my job is to cook and raise children. My husband and I have chosen our roles according to what we wanted. I wanted to raise our son my way. My husband cannot imagine he could stay home without going out to work. For the record, I don’t cook. I know how to cook. I have trained my help to do that for us. But I want to save that time for our son and myself. The thing is when a child sees that women are respected in his home, he would naturally imbibe that as a reality.
Relationship between parents
A child learns a lot about relationships from the relationship his parents share. How do they address each other? How do they fight? Are they respectful towards each other and each others’ views? Do they make sexist comments? Do they put each other down?
The language we speak
Like the example I mentioned in the beginning, there are several examples of sexist comments that could pass our lips if we are not careful and aware. For example, you would find many men commenting on women drivers on the road. It is clearly stereotyping and completely unjustified.
Communication with them
At the end of the day, no matter how careful we are, our sons would go out into the big bad world. They would meet uncles who would say, “Why are you hiding behind Mamma? Are you a girl?” He would meet friends who would pressurize them to “be a man”. Only a strong bond with their parents can give them confidence to swim against the tide.
I feel we have the power to create a better future for our kids, but we need to remember that when we are raising sensible girls, we also need to raise sensitive boys.