What the child does and believes in, is dependent upon what s/he sees happening around. Parents and family are one of the biggest examples that the child looks up to and learns from. If boys see the girls and women of the house being treated in a suppressed way; they will grow up believing themselves to be superior to girls/ women. Similarly, the girls will consider themselves to be lesser, if they belong to a family where women have no say of their own.
Let’s look at it in the context of both boys and girls. Given the kinds of crimes happening against women all around us, parents definitely become more concerned about their girls’ safety. However, in their own fear of protecting their girls, parents tend to create many unseen boundaries for them. If you are a girl, there has to be a proper way of sitting, eating, smiling, laughing, etc! – All this so that you can avoid ‘Unnecessary Attention’! In this process, one main thing that we forget is-are we protecting them this way or are we making them unsure of themselves and more and more dependent upon us?
For boys, ‘crying’ is a big NO NO for them- as ‘only girls are supposed to cry’! ‘Don’t cry like girls!’, ‘Are you a girl? Then why are you crying?’, etc are some of the statements that we tend to use quite loosely with them- Clearly sending the message- Men are powerful than women, so crying is not a thing for them!
Thus as parents, one of our 1st jobs is to get our minds clear-i.e.- boys and girls are the same. There is absolutely no difference. Once we start operating from this belief, next task is to get present to our daily conversations with then-things that we tend to say/ do unconsciously- might be creating the respect or disrespect towards women. Next, providing a similar and unbiased nurturing environment for both girls and boys in our families; so that girls grow up to be confident women and boys grow up to be men who are respecting women and are gender neutral!
By Nupur Mahajan – Head Teacher Training – Parwarish
published in Hindustan Times