Mother's Story - Are We Teaching Our Boys to Respect Women?
Created by Anushree Basu-Bhalla Updated on Mar 06, 2020
I will always remember the girl in the blue uniform. I was eight at that time and my school was about two kilometers away from my home. Those were different times when people would actually consider walking their children to school instead of jumping into their cars, even if the school happens to be in the next block. As was the custom, every morning my father would walk me to my school and then go on to catch his bus to work.
Instill Respect for Women in Your Son, Boys - A Mother's Story
That particular summer morning I saw the little girl, of probably my age at that time, lugging two school bags and water bottles, trailing her not-much-younger brother who was walking ahead holding his father’s hand. They seem to be going to the government-run primary school in our locality. Of course, at that time I only processed one thing: how difficult it must be for her to carry two sets of bags and water bottles. And why her father didn’t even stop to help her, I wondered.
But now in retrospect, I try to remember the brighter side of the scenario – at least she was receiving a proper education as against many girls who don’t even get to see a school in their lifetime. I hope that the girl in the blue uniform at least completed her 12 years of schooling and did eventually also manage to get through to college.
But let’s shift focus here to the brother. Let’s imagine him observing and absorbing the way his parents treated his sister. It’s not very difficult to visualize the bully he will turn out to be, the wife-beater, or even the sexual predator. I can imagine some people shifting uncomfortably in their seats right now, sanctimoniously pointing out that these are “their” problems and that the educated upper-middle-class parents bring up their children “differently”. [Read - Ways to Teach Children Good Touch & Bad Touch]
And maybe rightly so! Today’s parents, the internet-savvy demographic cohorts, the Millennials, have seen both ends of the spectrum. We have experienced subjugation on the basis of gender as well as an explosion in writing and thinking on the feminist theory. We are the in-betweeners who would stop to read this article but would also unwittingly be “disrespectful” to a fellow female co-worker.
I see you don’t agree with the latter part of the above. So here are a couple of questions for you.
- When was the last time you sneered at a woman driver who didn’t use the indicator light while turning into an exit?
- What did you say out loud to vent your frustration about such absent-minded driving?
Well let me guess, you most likely would have pointed out her gender and made a comment about how it is directly responsible for her bad driving.
That said, I’d give credit where it’s due: that there is at least the intent to bring up our boys and girls as equals. As a mother of a two-year-old boy, I socialize with my fair share of like-minded, urban, and perceptive circle of parents. We chuckle while exchanging notes of the ever-widening vocabulary of our children. And also remind ourselves of the strict censorship that we must adhere to.
While most parents admit that they censor all swear words or graphic details from their day-to-day conversations, for the betterment of their little impressionable tots, most of us, as I noted, don’t give sexist remarks a second thought -- Not by design or intent but by mere habit. We have these gender stereotypes so ingrained in our systems that we don’t even deem them unfavorable.
What We Parents Are Doing & Instill in Boy Child
As parents, we learn every day with our children. We learn to stay awake at night even when we have an early morning meeting; we memorize the nursery rhymes all over again; we restrict our late nights out with friends, and we reschedule our days according to our child’s needs. Gender-neutral parenting ought to be a part of our parenting curriculum that we first learn ourselves and then inculcate in our child.
So here I am, reminding myself of the girl in the blue uniform and how I would urge my little boy to carry his own bag and water bottle.
| Feb 06, 2016
Thoughtful write up and an eye opener - Need of the current society.
| Jan 30, 2016
This is so thoughtful and moving and a must read for all.
| Jan 13, 2016
Just so sensible! I'm expecting my baby by july ... I'm already like planning up in my mind, if its a boy how I teach him respect women and treat equally. I keep taking to my baby about importance of respecting women, as baby would be born with the quality .. Thank you for bringing it to the forum Anushree
| Jan 13, 2016
thanks for bringing this here to sensitize us on the way we behave and pass sexist or gendered remarks... i just saw this on post getting viral on Fb which draws comparison between a chapatti made by an arranged marriage wife and love marriage wife... Don't know whom are we trying to mock here; our own closed and shallow psychologies or someone else.. but yes, as rightly mentioned, it is for us to get trained on first...
| Jan 11, 2016
Indeed Very thought provoking Anushree! Yesterday itself I saw a man hitting and hurling abuses on his wife in full public view. Her only fault was she lifted her probably 4/5 year old child( who happened to be a boy) from her lap out from the car who accidentally tripped on the road due to imabalance but was completely unhurt even without a scratch. I am sure this very child would learn to treat women which includes his wife, sister ,colleagues etc in a similar manner or even worse. We don't even realize how conveniently any mistake at home is passed on to lady of the house more so if she is a homemaker. I wish this blog could awaken at least some of us to teach our sons to respect every girl child /woman.