Crossing the divide

Published On: January 18, 2020 08:25 AM NPT By: Usha Pokharel

Are you raising your sons to understand that all jobs are important? Do you tell them that it is okay to do the household chores? Are you raising your sons the same as your daughters?

In this era of ‘me too’ and ‘acid attacks’, we are hearing more men and boys making the same type of mistakes again and again.  Under such circumstances, I think it is time we asked ourselves: Where did we go wrong while raising our boys? Are we still influenced by our patriarchal society’s male preference? Frankly speaking, I don’t have the answers to these questions, but male preference is gradually decreasing.   At the same time, there are still some people wanting their first child to be a male. Some people still find it difficult to accept a girl child. I know I have angered many readers with my comments. Still, I have a request for you. Can you assure me that you are raising your daughter as equal to your son?

If you smiled and answered ‘yes’ then please assure me further that you will raise your sons as you do your daughters. In our society, we might raise our daughters as our sons, but we do not give equal opportunity to our sons and raise them the same as our daughters. That is because men doing household chores and taking care of children is supposed to be beyond a man’s dignity. Those chores still fall under a women’s domain. 

As a result, boys are raised instilling a superiority complex in them right from childhood. During my recent conversations with young men, I realized, we are still far behind, so far as equal treatment of young adults at home is concerned. I agree, more daughters are now raised the same as sons. That does not mean boys are raised without discrimination. I am sure you are shocked. Don’t be, because we are all guilty of discrimination at home. I know, you are treating your daughters as sons and preparing them to face the world’s challenges with a smile. While also teaching them the basics of being a proper homemaker. Somewhere along the line, they also learn to respect men, while trusting and respecting their father and their brothers.

While talking about equality for girls and women, we fail to realize men too need to be prepared, to face the home front, learn to respect women all with a smile. No one understands their pain when they feel helpless faced with the dilemma of doing everything for themselves. That is the time when they feel angry with their parents for not making it clear to them in their childhood, that it’s okay to know life skills. They blame their parents for not assuring them that they don’t lose their status for knowing life skills. Especially the ones that save them from the embarrassment of not knowing the skills to cook a meal, clean their clothes, or mend a button on their shirt, and respect a woman. 

So, parents, are you raising your sons to understand that all jobs are equally important? Are you giving them the impression that it is okay to do chores around the house? Are you raising your sons the same as your daughters? I can see quite a few parents feeling a bit uncomfortable. I don’t blame you. We are all guilty of thinking boys/men will never feel the need to do their own stuff, because women will always be around for their sons and men.

That was the way people thought about 100 years ago when everyone stayed at home and worked on the farm. There was no movement in the family. Most of the men worked on bringing in food for the family and dealt with outside affairs. Some men were educated while women were not allowed even to go to a school nearby. They were compelled to do household chores and were basically involved in agriculture and the upkeep of the household. Now things have changed. Women have progressed since then and are now equally empowered to deal with the outside world. Besides, girls and women have a little advantage over boys and men. That is, they are good at being a professional and taking care of the home front.

Unfortunately, the progress of men, on the other hand, is lagging behind.  Men still are not confident enough to handle the professional and the home front simultaneously. I know by now parents are thinking, so how do we go about raising boys and girls as equals? It is simple. Stop comparing boys with girls. While you are at it, also avoid statements like boys don’t cry, or crying is for the weak. Please don’t stop your sons from crying. Let them cry. According to researches, crying is good for everyone, once a while. Please understand, crying does not make a person weak. It is a natural process to express emotion. At the same time, also allow your boys to wash their teacups and make their beds. Do not stop them, saying, his sister will do it for him.

I request parents to reconsider some of their actions and treat both their children equally. Come Tihar, please have a Bhai BahiniTika and not Bhai Tika. Have both children do initial puja and perform the ceremony equally and see the difference in the children’s attitude after that.  Remember, in the 21st-century, boys don’t need to protect girls. Girls are also capable of getting a black belt in karate and can take care of themselves and their brothers if need be.

Finally, please avoid giving the impression in any way that girls are an object that boys and men can own after marriage. Also, in an attempt to achieve heaven, do not convert your daughters into an object, by giving them away (Kanya Daan) like a cow after Gau Daan. Maybe, if we put in a little effort, we still have a chance of raising a generation of boys, who are champions, who consider and respect women as equal. Thus, eventually help break the cycle of considering oneself as superior to women. I am sure that is not much to ask for, right parents?

Pokharel is an educationist and author of several children’s books


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