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3 Important Lessons I Teach While Raising A Feminist Son

Posted: March 26, 2020

It is 2020 and men taking up responsibilities at home is finally a reality. And women are raising their sons to be feminists. Here are 3 lessons from one such mom.

I have often been asked if I am a feminist. And I believe, not only am I one but my husband is a feminist too. What it means is that he believes in equality and treats women with the respect they deserve. We share the load at home- we’re raising our son together and we do it with equal responsibility

He doesn’t always drive when we step out. Neither am I the only one who needs to handle the kitchen. We have a seven-year-old son and if he is anything like his father he will imbibe these qualities naturally.

I intend to raise a feminist son who doesn’t just believe in equal rights and opportunities for women but models it in his behavior and attitude. Often, I hear about raising daughters to be feminists but why should it be any different for sons? I feel it will be truly equal only if we balance it out. Men and women are two sides of the same coin and we can’t change one without the other. Here are some things to think about.

Treat women with respect but as equals

There was a time when my son thought only men could be super heroes since his exposure was limited. So I made sure that he watched things like Super Girl and the Incredibles among others where women had super powers too.

While buying toys, there is the general tendency to stereotype them- Lego for boys and dolls for girls. Or even blue things for boys and pink for girls. I try and take him away from these ideas and reiterate that there is no difference between him and his sisters (cousins who are close to him) in what they can play, see or do.

It’s okay to express emotions

Often, parents tell their sons that ‘boys don’t cry’ or scold them for ‘crying like a girl.’ These statements reflect incorrect notions about both boys and girls and do them both injustice.

I encourage my son to express his emotions even if it means crying sometimes. To associate natural emotions with a specific gender is a disservice we do to the cause of feminism. Expressing your emotions is not a sign of weakness but strength and gender has nothing to do with it.

Strengthen emotional intelligence

Schools are great for helping our children develop their academic and extra-curricular skills. Mental intelligence and physical evolution garner a lot of attention.

Suddenly as adults, we are told to reflect on our emotional quotient. Unfortunately are not equipped with the mindset to deal with it. It is important for kids to learn emotional learning around self-control, confidence, self- esteem, empathy, relationship development and management. These have a bearing on what sort of adults they grow into and how they handle the opposite sex.

In my house, there are no rigidly defined gender roles. My son sees his father and I do every task. He sees us speak and treat each other respectfully and lovingly. And sees us handling our emotions and resolving conflict in a mature way. These are daily teaching him the power of EI or EQ. Hopefully, he will integrate these actions into his attitude and mindset and reflect it his behavior.

I consider it a win when my son notices inequality and questions it. When he asks why a particular woman hasn’t learnt how to drive a car. Or why his naanu cannot make his own tea.

For us parents who have always taken “feminist” as a tag of pride, this is the icing on the cake and a promise for a more equal future. It ultimately comes down to the mindset.

Mere sloganeering on being feminist will achieve limited aims.

Raising our children and exposing them to actions that reinforce equal rights, opportunity, respect and indiscrimination is the right way forward.

A version of this was published here.

Picture credits: YouTube

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Prerna Wahi worked in the corporate world for 7 years. In the past few years,

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