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Behind every instance of gender discrimination, there is a society that was raised on misogynist thought, and we parents are undeniably a part of it.
International Women’s Day brightened up the theme #EachForEqual. Every campaign, protest, writings, and not to mention social media feeds were full with #EachForEqual.
This year’s theme received a massive response. But, what about the root level understanding of the concept, in our kids?
Ok, assume walking up to your 5 year old and thrusting upon their little mind the concept of gender equality. Is that really going to work? Absolutely NO! However, isn’t it important to teach (and model) gender equality right from our home, before the kids are influenced by others?
Parents do have bigger responsibility towards promoting equality than we can even fathom. But to start with, let us think about few basic steps to go on.
New parents may feel ridiculous reading this, as we are so conditioned to think pink for a daughter. Believe me, I too was fascinated with the colour pink when my daughter was born, pink dress, pink shoes, pink scrap book, pink water bottle and what not!
But soon realized the blunder I made when she laughed and ridiculed a boy wearing pink T-shirt. Reality struck very hard, that a three year old was shaming someone’s gender on the basis of colour! Think, does the colour of your kid’s clothes matter more than their beliefs, their attitude, their social behaviour?
I am blessed with two beautiful daughters, but I think it didn’t go very well with our neighbour’s relative. After my second daughter was born, she would make a poker face every time we come across each other, and say, again daughter?! Why don’t you try for a son?
For some time, I didn’t bother to reply owing to that lady’s age. But then one day, she said that in front of my 7 year old. I lost my patience and gave her a befitting reply, and warned her not to say anything further.
Many families face this discrimination within their houses, but no matter what, never encourage it by staying silent in front of kids. Also take care that no relatives or friends show extra affection towards your male child in front of the other. The little boy may grow up with the notion of being superior, and girl child may feel suppressed. Everything should be imparted equally, be it schooling, clothing, food or emotional quotient.
One day, while conducting a fun reading session, I asked little girls what they want to be when they grow up? Most of them said ‘teacher’. I was really happy, and yet confused at the same time.
Why teacher? Why not Police, Lawyer and Pilots? The kids around me giggled, particularly the boys. Their answer shocked me – that girls should be teacher or doctor and boys should be police.
So. I realised this mind-set was built as a result of patriarchal parenting. Hence, make sure not to mention anything that would discriminate against them by gender, that would smother their mind-set even before they are developed.
Parents often unknowingly discriminate kids on a everyday basis. Don’t agree?
Pick up brother’s plate too.
Let him watch TV, you come help me clean kitchen..
Give him two chocolates, I will buy for you later…
Aren’t we familiar with such sentences, even if not in our home?
If yes, then you are probably witnessing the root cause of the misogyny our kids learn as they grow up. Cooking your food, picking up own plates doesn’t have to do with gender nor do it comes solely in female genes.
This is often seen in Indian home – mother slogging out cooking, washing, cleaning while father sticking to the sofa enjoying television, or glued to his mobile phone. Kids walk towards the mother for everything, but father won’t lift his butt from the sofa.
A father should proactively take part in taking care of kids and also take part in their studies, hobbies, and other activities. Don’t forget, fatherhood doesn’t comes with exclusive offers!
Parenting teens is like taming a moody dinosaur. You really start doubting your existence. But unfortunately it is the very crucial stage of life, both for teenagers and parents – it’s like ticking time bomb. They strive for freedom, space and understanding, be it any gender.
Different set of rules for the siblings can hamper their relationship and create behavioural issues. Girls start to feel low self esteem mostly because of the on-going discrimination between them and their sibling brother.
The problem is not that she is a girl, but men – before deciding a curfew time for your daughter fearing the unknown of late night, ponder over a fact – that you are fearing a person who is someone’s son, roaming free late night.
The gender bias has wrecked our society. Handling the situation is not as easy as above mentioned. But, we parents cannot let go of the fact that, behind every instance of gender discrimination, there is a society that was raised on misogynist thought and parents are undeniably a part of it.
Image source: shutterstock
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Sheeba Vinay is a writer by profession and an aspiring Criminologist. Her write-ups have
Are We Raising Our Sons To Understand The Dreams Of Tomorrow’s Empowered Women?
8 Creative Ideas For Women’s Day Programs At Work To Celebrate Gender Equality
How Do You Plan To Raise A Gender Equal Generation? [#WomenOnTheMove]
Gender Neutral Books And Toys – How Aware Are You As A Modern Parent?
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