By Vidya Shastri
As responsible fathers, telling our little girls that they are as good or even better than boys is not enough. Instead of focusing on gender parity, we need to help our kids become strong, fair and independent adults, irrespective of gender considerations. In the coming year, let’s resolve not to perpetuate these gender stereotypes among our boys.
1) Pink and dolls are not for boys
Children play with whatever catches their fancy, and pink is a pretty colour. They have little understanding of gender-specific games, toys or colour and we must keep them away from our antiquated concept of gender identities. Don’t force-dress your boy in blue and let him choose the games he wants to play.
2) Its unmanly to dress up or fuss about your health
We don’t inhabit caves anymore. It’s important for boys to be well groomed, hygienic, dress appropriately and take care of their skin and hair. There is nothing less manly about taking care of yourself and boys should be conscious of their health and fitness from early on.
3) Good boys don’t hit girls
Why just girls, good boys don’t hit other boys, playmates, animals, parents, toys or anything. Let’s help our little men understand that hitting or even casually slapping or pushing is an act of violence and not a show of strength or power.
4) Boys will be boys
This is usually said to indulge little boys when they raise hell around the house. But once reinforced in childhood, as they grow up they will end up justifying poor behavior (anger, aggression, mistreating women) by thinking it’s genetic to men and hence, acceptable.
5) Fears and Tears
Every little boy is allowed to be scared of spiders, cockroaches, lizards and heights. When they grow up there will be moments in their personal and professional lives when they will be gripped by fear. Same goes for tears that are a natural response to getting emotionally or physically hurt. Instead of bottling up fears and tears, a balanced and healthy outlet should be encouraged.
6) Don’t act like a girl
Right from childhood, gender stereotypes instill the role of a hunter/gatherer in boys and nurturer in girls. We have come a long way, we have stepped on the moon and have photographed Mars, so we need to rid ourselves of these ridiculous gender expectations. Boys can enjoy being in the kitchen, making grocery lists, managing babies or working outside jobs. There should be no gender barriers in doing what you enjoy doing.
7) Boys are responsible
Telling boys constantly that they are responsible for girls and parents is a way of putting pressure on them that also ends up adding to a false sense of power. This feeling of being the protector often ends up in aggressive behavior where boys bully their sisters, mothers and girl friends. Both boys and girls should be responsible for themselves, their families, environment and everything else around them.
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