Anyone who is even remotely associated with India knows that being a male in this part of the world is a privilege. Despite all the changing times a sense of superiority still comes with the territory. Gender equality is an ongoing battle. They are waited on, given preference, more than often pampered just a little bit extra. Older women in our society consider themselves blessed to be mothers of sons and female members of some families still believe in this male dominance.
Yet, every day on social media pages I find some beautiful message celebrating daughters, about how lucky all these people are to be parents of amazing daughters. It is all so heartwarming! On the other hand there is news daily about the struggle that women face everyday.
The constant debate about how women are not safe, specially in India makes me feel how hollow all the endearment on social media is. The world is aware of these problems. The sexual harassment, violence towards women and gender inequality to name a few.
A while back I heard a talk from a very learned lady (cannot recall her name) on a social media platform. She said something along the lines of “We Indians bring-up our sons in a totally wrong way”. Someone else mentioned “Don’t tell your daughters how to behave, teach your sons better”.
These two statements got me thinking, maybe we desperately need to change as a society.
“What a person becomes is a reflection on the whole society”.
This quote purely explains why we need core change.
I too am a mother, at times a very scared one! Telling my daughter to first be strong, then kind, smart and last of all beautiful inside. I don’t try to call her a princess as those pretty creatures are often lazy in looking out for themselves and depend on being rescued.
I try to teach my son better. But cannot control what goes on in the world. Things that are everywhere in the movies, media and our society. So, I made a list of things that I feel we need to teach our children.
No one is Special
Let’s try to teach our sons, being male is not a privilege. It is just as good as being any child,boy or girl. Every child will get everything in a balanced manner. No one owns the world just because of their gender.
Good Touch-Bad Touch
The word NO: These messages are loud and clear.At a young age all children need to be taught about this. There is so much helpful information about this topic online. I shared this with both my kids when they started pre-school respectively. The difference between a good and bad touch.Any touch that feels wrong or uncomfortable is to be stopped and screamed at by a big “NO”. As the Bollywood movie “PINK” recently emphasized, a NO means NO.It does not require any explanation.
If a person tells you to not touch them, you respect that.At the same time if you feel threatened by anyone learn to say “NO”.
This is one thing I am a very firm believer of. Do not wait on your sons. I have asked my son to help me with small chores around the house, since the age he can manage to. Get your own water, pick up after yourself are some of the things that can be taught from a small age.
Boys Do Cook
Last summer, my cousin’s son informed me that boys do not cook, mamas do, as they are girls. Few days later my son parroted the same line to me. I sat them both down and asked “Do you boys get hungry?” .Both nodded meekly at this trick question. So I informed them “Anyone who gets hungry, should know how to cook”. You see, hunger does not discriminate based on gender.
Talk about Sex
This is one very important question that has baffled parents far & wide. When to talk to child about it, at what age. Recently, my son who is nine, got to asking all sorts of questions. After dodging for a few months, I decided to tackle the matter head-on.
After some research online and talking to a few other mothers, I gave him a talk on the topic. The best approach I found is give all the age appropriate information, it acts as an insurance against any ill-informed influence. Helping the child to make right choices and not be a confused teenager, Looking to experiment .
Also, it is important as even boys are vulnerable and can be harassed.
Not Entitled to Any Estate
Our boys in India come with readymade incomes from birth. It is assumed that a boy is entitled to all that the family owns and whatever he gets in the form of dowry.Let’s teach our sons some self-worth. I want to instill the value of hard work in my boy and teach him that all children have the same birth rights. No estate and no dowry can make our society so much better.
Be the Example
This is another very important thing we need to teach our sons. They need to learn to respect all women, starting from home. Don’t be the kind of woman who needs to be rescued. Be your own rescue (at least, most of the time). Set an empowered example ! Let your son understand that women can do all that men can and more. Try to be the kind of mother who takes the world in her stride. Be angry, be upset, be weak but rise from it and take charge of your own life.
Different People, Different Opinions
This is one important thing that all kids,boys and girls,need to be taught. Every day you will not meet like-minded people. Many will ridicule, criticize or threaten you. Kids need to understand to believe in themselves and stand up for their own rights. Also teach them to respect others point of view and opinions. Not every word or thought has to offend us, learn to walk away.
In a world getting intolerant by the minute, tolerance is an attribute to be cherished.
Reassure Them Of Their Place
Today this is a world which is really trying to uplift its girls and women on every possible platform and empower them. We all love our daughters to bits and constantly fight to safeguard their interests. But in all this our boys also need to be reassured of their special place. I make it a point to tell my son how important he is and will always be the biggest piece of my heart not because he is a boy but because he is my first baby.
Give Your Child a Growth Mindset
Children need to learn that all human beings come with the same rights, despite their gender or sexual orientation.Though every one has their own strengths and weaknesses and the world would be a lot better in understanding and accepting that.
We as a society have strayed and things seem to be getting worse. But it is never too late to start trying and no step is ever too small.
We can start by trying at home, raise our kids to be the men and women we can be proud of tomorrow. What tips would you give to someone bringing up boys ?