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In today’s world, it is important for parents to raise feminist children. And to do that, the easiest way is to break stereotypes at home!
‘Girls don’t raise their voices, neither do they back-answer!’ ‘During our times, we don’t even look into men’s eyes and look at how things are now.’
My grand-aunt was on a ranting spree, while my clueless daughter, all of six years was waiting for her turn to respond. I was listening to them from my home office and realised I had to interrupt.
“Sweetie, Grandma means to say that kids should not raise their voice or back answer, it’s not just girls,” I spoke loud enough spelling out each word to get the message across to my grand-aunt. She was visibly annoyed by my statement.
As a kid, I had been bogged down at several junctures in my life with the golden rules from the unwritten Girls’ Rulebook. I was being groomed for the penultimate responsibility of becoming the lady of the house right from childhood, which was nothing short of ridiculous.
When I gave birth to my daughter, one of the crucial parenting decisions I made was to break all stereotypes about girls and women. I decided that I would never teach her to live up to society’s expectations.
The best way to implement this is by practising it, as kids learn more from what they see. Whenever my kid accompanied me to my office on her holidays, I was amazed by how much she observed and the kind of questions she asked.
She was delighted to sit on my chair, shake hands with my colleagues, click selfies in the meeting room and pick goodies from the vending machine. At the end of the day, she would tell me she wanted to work at a place like this when she grew up.
Through stories and real-life examples, I sow the seeds of the need for independent thinking. I try to highlight the virtues of the female characters she watches on screen, from Elsa in Frozen to Hermoine from Harry Potter to Devasena from Bahubali.
In the stories that I weave for her, the female characters portray virtues like independent thinking, voicing one’s views without fear. The women and girls in these stories are courageous and assertive, while also being empathetic. I believe that this really does lay a firm foundation.
Another essential parenting tip is to bring to kid’s attention the success stories of women achievers we come across daily. My daughter was awe-struck when she saw the news about the all-women Air India pilots who manned (pun intended!) the first non-stop flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru.
This goes a long way in strengthening the foundation already laid. Thankfully, today a number of TV ads are breaking stereotypes about the roles of men and women at home, though there is a long way to go.
This applies not just to parents of girl children. Nurturing the minds of young boys too is a great step to creating a safer haven and sense of equity for all. Every parent plays the critical role of being the most influential teacher for their kid, and it’s up to each one of us what legacy we wish to leave behind.
Responsible parenting can help us achieve in the long run, much more than what we gain through rallies and road-shows on women empowerment.
Picture credits: Still from Clinic Plus’ ad on YouTube
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Remya is an artist-blogger-entrepreneur who believes that her life is the best gift,
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