Ranjani Arvind

Raising a Boy

I have always been a champion, albeit a silent one, of gender based issues. So I admit I was slightly taken aback when I became mother to a baby boy almost four months ago. All my plans of raising a strong, fearless daughter went for a toss.

And then I came across a blog post from a mother of two boys, who said that after she got over the initial disappointment of not having daughters, she realized that she has the responsibility of raising her sons “to be the kind of men who make the world safer”.

This,coupled with Femina’s “boys don’t cry” video- got me thinking, and how. As a new parent, when I consciously think about my ‘parenting techniques’, or the ways in which others interact with my baby, I am amazed at how easy it is to conform to societal standards when speaking to a child. How effortlessly we pick out blue clothes and toy cars for a boy and say “ladkiyon jaise rona nai”. Each one of us is programmed such, or as they say in Jungian psychology, its a “collective archetype”- a psychological inheritance passed on from generation to generation.

And that’s when I realize, that the way I raise my boy, is going to affect the women around him. I need to teach him, from a very young age, that he needs to help in household chores, as much or as little as the girls of the house; that he is never supposed to use words like “raped” casually; that cat calling and whistling at girls is humiliating for them, and he needs to stand up against it in all contexts. I need to tell him that it is okay to wear pink, play with dolls and teddy bears and tea sets.

Our society teaches us to raise our daughters to be careful. To avoid being raped, harassed and molested. We teach our daughters to constantly fear, to build walls of defense around them. Let’s try something else instead- let’s truly “raise our sons to be the kind of men who make our world safer”.

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About the Author

A post graduate in Psychology from DU, an M.Phil in Educational Studies from JNU, a former M & C intern at CSR, an educational consultant, a school teacher- but always a writer at heart.

Ranjani Arvind
Ranjani Arvind
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