I often hear this from kids, “I help my mother by putting my shoes in the shoe-rack” or “If I were a mother I’d cook after coming back from office” or “When maid doesn’t come, my mother washes the dishes before going to the office” Or “My mother scolds me for watching T.V while my father watches T.V. all the time”
No, this write-up is not about feminism. I am not going to talk about equal rights.
I intend to talk about gender stereotypes with which our kids are growing up. This write-up is a result of discussions with children over the years. It may not apply to each and every household, but this is what children have shared.
Children are observing mothers to be the hardworking, sacrificing, angry and strict parental figure, and fathers to be hardworking, carefree, relaxed, and cool.
This may be unhealthy at many levels for children.
Girls are growing up thinking it’s tough to be a mother, and that they will have to take care of a house, children AND a job. They may not opt for marriage or motherhood when it’s time. That time, it will seem wise not to get into it if it looks scary.
Boys are growing up thinking that doing the dishes or putting shoes in the right place is a mother’s job. They will expect the same from their life partners later.
What are we doing? Are we preparing kids for our adulthood or theirs? 20 years from now things will be different.
Mothers can stop feeling guilty, to begin with. Stop feeling guilty about not sacrificing and not being a superwoman. Stop taking pride from working non-stop. It’s ok not to have the cleanest house. It’s ok if relatives are not proud of your time-management skills. It’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to take care of yourself. It’s ok to create your support system by hiring a cook, a nanny, and extra maids.
All mothers are working moms. One may work at home; one may work in an office. One may choose a traveling job; one may choose a school job. One may go to lots of parties; one may go to lots of meetings. It’s all about choices. It’s all about what’s needed. Embrace your femininity.
Fathers can be more vocally supportive, to begin with. You are perceived as cool and carefree. Create job equality in the house.
20 years from now, most women will have jobs outside. Then, if men, who are little boys now, expect household and parenting responsibilities from women, who are little girls now, there is something wrong we are doing now which will strain their relationships later.
Strong gender stereotypes might have worked in the past. Think of the present and the future. Dissolve gender stereotypes and help your children grow up not only feeling equal, but seeing equal too.