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Parenting Makes A Difference; I Have A Feminist Father Only Coz My Grandma Raised Him As One

My father felt that tackling gender issues must begin at home. That we should have the same rules for our sons as we have for our daughters, the same code of conduct, and the same expectations.

My father felt that tackling gender issues must begin at home. That we should have the same rules for our sons as we have for our daughters, the same code of conduct, and the same expectations.

My father taught me that feminism is not an idea- it is a way of life. He also taught me that feminism does not mean that everyone has to be the same. For him feminism meant that men and women should have equal opportunities, and freedom to do their own things and maintain their own individuality. He always maintained that life would be quite boring if all around us we saw the same kind of people.

It was much later in life that I really thought about it and decided that it had something to do with how my grandmother brought up her son. I am pretty sure that she had never heard the word, but she believed in and brought up her family to believe in equality of genders.

My father owned his share of household chores

From buying vegetables and rations to drying clothes my father did whatever he could to help his mom and later, my mom, around the house. He would encourage my mom, a housewife, to have her own hobbies, friends and outings. He took pleasure in taking me for ‘pizza’ outings whenever my mom wanted to watch a movie with her friends.

He did it all so naturally, or should I say ‘normally’, that I thought this was the way families were. Whenever I saw how ‘different’ my friends’ parents were, I thought we were normal and they were weird.

As I grew older and started a family of my own, my father and I had many discussions on gender issues. He always said that gender neutrality is absurd- what we have to achieve is gender equality. He maintained that women should never try to be men as there was no need whatsoever. He believed in not identifying with any gender roles and doing what one wanted to do. He felt that the gender issues can be solved more effectively if we pay more attention to them at home. He used to say that we should have the same rules for our sons as we have for our daughters, the same code of conduct and the same expectations. Later, the society at large should continue and monitor the progress.

Some of his famous words were

Don’t be a superwoman– I found that whenever I tried to ‘do it all’, I failed and then felt inadequate. As career women we should ask for help in managing home. Often mothers and mothers in law may be waiting to help but we never ask.

Delegate– Everyone in the family should feel productive and included in the management of the house. Also, do not try to do everything all together, prioritize. What is not important today, can be done tomorrow or next week.

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Don’t try to find fault with help given- Once you have asked someone to help you, accept the way the work has been done. Don’t find faults. Be gracious.

Eat as well as you can- Breakfast should be nutritious as you are beginning a new day but dinner should be your best effort. It is the last meal of the day and the whole family is together to enjoy it. Serve nourishing food to your loved ones, yourself included. Look after everyone, yourself included.

Take time off for yourself– My father always said- keep taking breaks from housework and sometimes from responsibilities- as and when they allow. Give yourself a holiday emotionally, mentally and physically.

The Takeaway- I am important

Most of us are over-burdened as we look after our work and homes. We carry a lot of responsibility as we take care of our loved ones. As we try to do our best for everyone, we should never forget that we need to do our best for ourselves too.

I have met many feminists in my time, many have contributed a lot to the cause and I respect them all, but a practising feminist like my father is still rare to find.

Image source: shutterstock

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About the Author

anuradha mankotia

I am Anuradha Mankotia. I have retired recently after a teaching career spanning three decades. Reading books of different genres and writing narratives are my read more...

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