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Men are finally doing their share of housework but we’re still a long way from gender equality. Thus, I am raising my son to be responsible with these 7 ways.
We don’t really need to talk about issues like gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, the glass ceiling, and gender pay gaps in our country any more. Not because of their rare existence, but because we have much bigger challenges to live with. Sexual harassment, acid attacks and rapes followed by brutal murders, follow every girl, who steps out of her house to study, work and everything else in between.
In an environment like this, all I, often, think of is “How to bring about the big change in our society where women are not just treated equal but also respected for who they are?” Inspired by what Mahatma Gandhi said “ Be the change you want to see in the world around,” I started “The Change Journey” with my son – a man in the making.
Around a decade ago, when my husband and I sat down to share our initial ideas on parenting, I knew we had a lot in common. Self awareness and respecting individuals (not just women) were two major themes we wanted to work on to imbibe in our kids. And we began our quest to raise responsible and mindful kids with limited knowledge and a great intent.
I am pouring out all what I am doing at my home, to raise a responsible son who respects women.
My kids have a fair understanding of the concept of personal space and they are very vocal about it. However, it was not like this since day one. It required conscious efforts on our part to make them understand that they are individuals. That anybody who interacts with them should respect their private and personal space.
We intentionally made personal corners for both our kids at our home where they can go and spend time alone without interruption. However when they come to a common play room, it means they are okay to play and interact with each other.
I taught my son to respect it, when his sister does not want to play with him. So while he knows how to claim his own private space, he is naturally tuned to respecting others’ personal space too.
Another way I work on building ‘The Personal Space’ paradigm for him is by respecting his choice of ‘No Hug, No Tickle & No Cuddle’ play. everal times, I stood up for him and said an assertive no on his behalf to our family and friends. Though, it was not easy for me either, I did it to set a good example for him. Respecting the choices your kids make is a great way of modelling respect for individuals.
Since he is an integral member of the family, he is expected to contribute in the smooth functioning of our family. So, be it folding and stacking towels to organising his study table, he is required to do it all just equally as my daughter.
I realised, him getting involved in chores works in three major ways. Firstly, it took him away from believing he was more entitled than his sister, thus, imbibing a sense of equality.
Secondly, he is learning to do his chores himself and moving to being a self-dependent adult. And finally, by doing his own work, he is developing empathy and respect towards our help and others who do the work more actively than him.
Whether it is a yes or a no to something he asked, my answer has a well thought of logic to it. I try to refrain from saying a yes or no based on convenience. This helps him understand, in clear and straight terms, what I mean and prevents room for negotiations.
Of course, I do reconsider my decision when he comes up with a logical discussion point. But he knows, badgering and bombarding me with continuous requests do not make me change my mind. He sees me respecting my decisions and as a result, myself.
Further, this acts as a great learning prompt to bigger issues like consent, gender equality and toxic masculinity. These will be brought on table for discussion when he grows older.
My son is free to wear a pink jacket and can enjoy colouring princesses in his free time. He enjoys Tangled and Frozen as much as Avengers or Toy Story.
I don’t impose any male stereotypes on to my son. There is no-one at my home telling him that boys don’t cry and girls do ballet. In fact, I spend a lot of time trying to teach my kids there are no right or wrong feelings. It is how you choose to express that makes all the difference.
My husband is playing his role and creating a great example for my son. He is walking the talk and modelling respectful behaviour all along. Be it about family decisions or family fun, my son always witnesses his dad model respect for women around.
Traditionally we have been brought up in homes where fathers are the ultimate decision making authorities. But I don’t have this age old tradition continuing in my family. If it is a decision about the children, we both have an equal say. In case of difference of opinion we follow the ‘Either you convince me or you get convinced’ rule.
In fact I completely refrain from using the phrases I have grown up hearing from my mom all the while. Phrases like ‘I am going to tell this to your father’ and ‘let him decide how to deal with you’ are not used in my house. I have just as much the authority to take decisions about my children.
However, this does not mean I don’t involve my spouse in important decisions related to kids or household. It just means that I am not waiting for him to take all the decisions on things related to the kids. For other critical and big decisions too, it is the collaborative approach we employ to decision making.
I make sure I don’t disrespect any other woman especially in front of my kids. Of course, there are some bad days when one loses temper but I try to adopt respectful ways of dealing with those challenges.
From the house help to the vegetable vendors, it’s always a thank you and respectful tone that is used in my home. Modelling this kind of respectful behaviour has a very lasting impression on young minds.
Since he was tiny, I taught him to judge and label behaviour instead of people. People make choices and behave in ways that can be right or wrong. However, choosing wrong behaviour do not make them liable to be disrespected.
As long as they learn from their mistakes or apologise, we need to forgive and forget. We are free to make our choices related to them. Walking away is a valid option but disrespecting is the choice not available to us.
I make sure to respect my son, his choices and his opinions. They are always not right and positive but after trying to make him understand, I let him make his final choices. And the consequences that come along with his decisions are his own to live by.
On consequences too, I empathise and hold myself back from saying ‘I told you so.’ Instead, I help him learn his lessons without shaming him.
Although the lessons on respect start at home, numerous other factors like the movies, culture, teachers and even friends have a significant influence on young boys. Thus, it is a great idea to monitor these influences and discuss any deviations or observation your son might have.
I engage with my son often to have a candid chat on what is happening around him and talk him through the right behaviour in those situations.
So, these are the big and small efforts that I am making in upbringing my son so he goes into adulthood with the right ideas and mindsets. I hope to create positive change in the next generation of men who would respect individuals not on the basis of gender but for the worth they are.
Be the change! Happy Parenting!
Picture credits: YouTube
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I Am Kushal : Founder-Momchipper, Cafewhiz : SAHM to 2 lovely kids : A Professional blogger : Entrepreneur :
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