5 Critical Ways I Am Investing In Women As Parent To A Son & A Daughter

Change begins at home. And if we are to have a better world for women in the future, we should raise our children with this in mind. As I am.

“Diversity is a program and Inclusion is a mindset”. This quote by Indra Nooyi caught my attention as I prepped to write this article. Every step towards creating a culture that promotes diversity will encounter mindset dynamics. Today, it stands as an impediment to women’s progress. The societal realms are reeking of a non-supportive mindset when it comes to women. Bogging them down with expectations in the name of duty is a reflection of how mindset creates more harm than good.

Born, raised, and married in a progressive environment wasn’t a shield to the realization that patriarchy was in many ways fueling the selective progression of women. It created an early awareness of which were the touch points for women. I resisted acceptance and channeled the disapproval into writing. I promised within that I would do my best as a parent and always wished to parent both a daughter and a son.

Prayers answered, today I evolve every day with mutual lessons in collaboration and gender-neutral parenting.

Go with what your heart desires

Recently my daughter was asked a question, “Beta, what all can you cook?” I didn’t know how to react. Firstly, because it was unexpected and secondly it was totally out of context. What won my heart was my daughter’s answer, “Uncle! I only know to eat.” The sixteen-year-old walked up to me later, brows knitted and hair strewn across in a style I loathe. “So along with being a class topper, a sports achiever, am I now supposed to be a chef too?”

I laughed and hugged her. Sat her down to say, “You have to be a chef only if that’s your calling. There is no SUPPOSED governing your life.” She smiled in relief. “I don’t think I can cook for anyone else. At best, I can feed myself.”

“Great! Do what you desire!”

This conversation is an example of how as a parent I’m investing in a woman.

Cooking is a life skill, not gender linked

“Mom! I want to have scrambled eggs today.” A hoarse voice calls out from a corner of the house. That’s my eighteen-year-old son, lounging on the bed as he conveys his order.

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I walk up to him, arms crossed behind my back, trying not to be intimidating I say, “How about I teach you to cook scrambled eggs today?” To my luck, this young adult is a foodie and that is what drove him to the kitchen stove. It started with the basic skill of lighting the stove and progressed to Maggi and tea. As he got comfortable, I realized the kitchen also became the place where we shared stories and laughter. This was the ideal setting to bring up another important fact. I went ahead and mentioned that whenever he decided to have a girlfriend/wife, she would be educated, working, ambitious, and financially independent. She would also like to be supported the way he was supporting me. This included contributing to the home chores too!

This is how I’m investing in women by instilling the right perspective around gender roles in my son.

“Cooking is a life skill.” My most oft-repeated phrase at home is to erase the gender stereotype around this basic activity. Creating a mindset that cooking/home chores don’t define womanhood.

Financial literacy for both my kids

Financial literacy is a key skill that I as a parent feel is a critical investment. Making sure that my daughter learns about finances and effective management in a way that is age-appropriate along with what is being explained to the son.

Responsibility for financial decisions is a key aspect of inclusion and this is largely lacking in our homes. Mindset creeps in here as well. “Why does a girl need to know? She is going to get married and her husband will handle everything for her.”

WHY? I always ask. There are homes where having a separate bank account and not sharing the password with the husband is considered insubordination on the part of the wife. This is financial abuse.

By providing awareness on budgeting, investing, and saving I’m raising a more confident woman. It also creates responsibility in the son to empower his partner in the future.

Financial independence is important but so is awareness of the financial options.

It’s OK to say No – that’s your right!

It’s ony the growth mindset that readily accepts “No” as an answer. Whether it’s from a boss, a colleague, or a family member, the word NO can influence the dynamics of relationships. Acceptance and adjustment is the lot of most Indian women, and they can get into serious trouble for saying NO. And then we put women on pedestals as ‘superwomen’.

Let’s begin with accepting no! It has to begin within our homes. My daughter

“Eat a paratha instead of bread today.” I urge my daughter. “No” she responds.

“Why?” I insist.

The eyebrow knit returns as she stares into my eyes. “No again. Because I don’t feel like.”

The confident No reassures me that I have done things right.

It has been a struggle to move from, “Never say No to the adults.” To “It’s OK to say No.” But I have stood my stead.

“You can only kiss me on the forehead.” the daughter instructs her brother. He listens intently before asking “Why? You are my sister and I love you.” He persists.

“I know! I love you too Bhaiya but I don’t like to be kissed on the cheek. It is a No.” she declares.

He agrees.

Seeing his sister confidently saying No and making a declaration about it, he too is comfortable and learns to accept a No.

That is how I’m investing in a woman I’m grooming and also a woman who I will welcome down the years.

Freedom of choice in personal decisions

Personal decisions like clothes are also subject to questioning. What a woman can and can’t wear is defined not by her will but by the environment. I have experienced it and continue to witness it both in the workplace and at home. Not acknowledging that there is a lack of freedom to make choices, is also being a partner in the crime.

So as a parent, I leave personal grooming decisions to both the children. When this happens, they are more cautious of their choices, they seek advice and it doesn’t seem like an imposition to them. This is the best first step to let them experience and experiment with freedom. The confidence of making a choice then seeps into other areas of life seamlessly.

Patriarchal reflections will remain in many areas yet if my efforts can make a slight difference, it is an investment in a progressive and judgment-free living. Any number of policies and systems cannot leave an impact unless the difference begins in mindset. As women, we play a vital role in making that shift. An informed parenting input can go a long way in laying the foundation for that change.

Image source: Pixabay

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About the Author

Saravjot Hansrao

life has always been about waking up with a renewed passion each day. I owe my inner strength to blessings of the eternal truth God, my bringing up amidst real heroes of the Indian Army read more...

10 Posts | 1,596 Views

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