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Teaching kids to be responsible towards families, considerate towards mothers, and participating in housework is a life skill. Take your me-time, moms, and let others take the load at times.
Firstly, I have said ‘women’ in the title of this post because let’s face it, the ground reality is that women are expected to be the nurturers and caregivers, the ‘default parent’ who takes all the slack, even if they are working women. I am addressing these women.
If we want to see our women grow strong, independent and confident while leading fulfilling lives, we need to evolve parenting to become a supportive of them. Women need to be recognised, valued and respected for their contribution of raising, nurturing and sustaining families as a major step towards nation building.
Unfortunately, women fare much lower on the happiness quotient while doing their duty, the reason being they don’t lead happy and fulfilling lives because they lack support of their families for it.
Women carry an extra burden of staying fit, because they cannot afford to do otherwise, because of selfish partners or difficult kids. They fear collapse of households and carry on while neglecting themselves in the bargain. So, women are silent sufferers with careers, home, health, parents and inlaws, with growing up kids causing depression and deterioration in mental health.
An injured mom complained of how her teenage kids and husband refused to cooperate with cooking meals or housework even after she fell ill. She continued to mop floors, clean utensils, roll rotis and pack hot lunch boxes, because family refused to do any of it.
Why are women expected to carry on despite illness? Why don’t they just drop everything and call sick? It is difficult to teach empathy when so may of us have let them get away being selfish for long.
Teaching kids to be responsible towards families, participating in housework is a very important contribution towards achieving work life balance. Surprisingly, moms feel it’s unfair to make kids work at an early age, feeling indulgent that kids have to do it later in life anyway or childhood is meant to be free and running homes is a parent’s responsibility, when we’re actually denying them the opportunity to grow up emotionally and deal with challenges.
In fact, early training helps kids to deal with problems like a parent’s illness or family crisis. They are better equipped to step into a parent’s shoes with greater confidence and maturity especially in today’s times of smaller families and not many support systems.
Stop the habit of cleaning up after kids. A busy career woman fed up of a messy house tried to teach her teenage kids a lesson by letting the heap of clothes, unmade beds and books lying for a good whole week! However, nobody seemed to either see or mind it even when finally she put them away.
This poses a serious question, “did we go awfully wrong in disciplining our kids when our parents did a better job?”
Sadly, we fear losing love and affection of our kids, and often go soft on them trying to buy peace. Children are quick to grasp weakness and become exploitative.
Let us understand that parenting is a pretty straightforward and honest job, with not much room for pampering. I recall my mom saying, “I don’t care if you hate me now, but, I intend to raise you right.” I wasn’t sure what she meant then, but it definitely made sense later. Let’s face it, moms aren’t supposed to be only loved, but to be respected too.
Mothers are judged, and appreciated by their kids only much later, when they grow up to be parents. So, don’t bother if you’re going to be loved or hated now, just remember you do it right… tough love as they call it.
Our generation did our share of housework as kids and didn’t sit curled up on the couch as mums and dads cleaned up.
A friend in her 50s, struggles with housework and health issues, because she’s a stay at home mom and kids have got better things to do like college and career, and no time on holidays, because they have got other things, or need rest. What’s with that?
Why are today’s kids so entitled? Are we guilty of spoiling them? After all, home was not free food, laundered clothes, clean washrooms and free wifi. Yet, kids grumble they don’t have freedom at home! Seriously, they need some lessons in responsibility.
Running a home is teamwork. You don’t bat, bowl, field, keep wickets and also become the 12th man fetching water. Home belongs to all who stayed and everyone gets to contribute their fair share of work to keep it running in order. Kids who say, “I hate housework”, need to be told off to stop demonizing chores or degrading it.
Many of us who grew up doing housework in our own homes, have now bend backwards for kids. ‘Let them enjoy now ’, ‘Zindagi padi hai kaam karne ke liye..’ feeling a sense of injustice to start kids young.
Sorry, we’re not playing Cruella to Cinderella. Children, need to be taught to become self reliant, respect discipline and value the dignity of labour in becoming responsible adults of future.
A friend always rushed home to serve garam khana for her family, complaining they wouldn’t serve food for themselves, though kept ready on the table. 24×7 mothering is not a sensible idea, women are left with no personal time or space making them feel deprived later on for having missed many opportunities in life. At the end of it all they feel is that it has been one thankless job. When women complain that they didn’t have a life of their own… it’s a sad story.
Women fear to be as labelled selfish or uncaring for putting themselves first, because ‘sacrifice’ had been an essential part of our social psyche.
No, it’s not selfish to make time for oneself- study, paint, write, sing, learn to play an instrument, bake, open a shop, travel….anything that you wanted to do in life. It’s called ‘self love’, a responsibility you owe towards yourself, because you need to respect yourself before others.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: a still from the movie English Vinglish
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