Are you a wife who cleans up after your husband? Do you wake up at 6 am to iron his clothes? Do you pick up his plates after he’s done eating? Do you stop eating when he asks you for some tea?
This is the story of many Pakistani women. The husband does the office work, while the wife, even if she’s working, has to do the office and ghar ka kaam. If you’re a mother, you have the added responsibility of raising children, often with little to no help from your spouse. Yeh aurat ka farz hota hai – said every aunty and uncle ever. Therefore, to help all women, we talked to mothers who happened to raise exceptional sons. Here are their parenting tips on how to raise sons who will turn out to be more helpful husbands and generally better human beings.
1. Avoid picking up their plates and dirty socks
As a mother, you have the tendency to look after your son’s every need, but mothers say this makes sons extremely dependent. Let them put the plates in the kitchen. Don’t pick up their dirty undergarments and clothes off the floor. Stop babying them. There is an unconscious division of labor that starts because mothers are too caring. Teach your children, especially sons, to be independent. Spoiling them every time will spoil them for the rest of their lives.
2. Teach them simple tasks like making tea or boiling rice
Instead of asking, “Chai banaoon?” say “Chai banado!” Let your son do simple things like making tea or coffee once a week. Let them treat you while you sit back and relax. Knowing the basics of cooking is also very important. Men are often handicapped if their wives are out of the house. Mothers say boys need to know basic culinary skills like boiling rice, toasting bread, frying an omelet. There’s a real need to get rid of this unnecessary dependance earlier on so they don’t become dependent on their wives!
3. Let them iron their own uniform
The mothers we talked to had a million and one things to do before going to bed – the worst of all was ironing everyone’s morning clothes. If they didn’t manage to finish ironing them at night, they would wake up early next day to do so, all the while rushing to manage breakfast. Set a routine so sons, just like daughters, are responsible for doing some of their own chores.
4. Show them that men can do household work too
Letting your boys make the bed or sweep the floor once in a while is not a bad idea. Boys often grow up seeing their mothers do all the household work. Mothers say boys need to experience doing jharo pocha themselves so they appreciate the time and energy it takes to keep a house clean. Fathers can also help promote this forward thinking. This also makes everyone think twice before creating a mess!
5. Don’t tolerate abusive language or sexist attitude
They say children learn gender dynamics from the way they’ve been raised. If a boy sees a father being unappreciative, there is a high likelihood of the boy growing up and behaving the same way with his wife. Mothers stressed the importance of speaking up if abusive or sexist language is used. Aurtein aisi hi hoti hai. Bhai ko nahi martai- don’t let your sons hear this bullshit. Practice equality everywhere every time.
6. Adding to tip # 5 – enough with the mansplaining
“Bhai ki baat sun lo.”
“Abu say poocho.”
The brother is always right and the father has the last say as the man of the house. Sons remember this subconscious sexism and they take these attitudes with them when they grow up to run their own households and have their own daughters and sons. Nip it in the bud.
7. Teach them to appreciate women’s opinions and stop the drawing room segregation
“Auraton ko kya pata politics kai baray main?”
In our society, many women are taken for granted, especially housewives. We assume they don’t know anything. There is also unconscious segregation when it comes time to eat at the dinner table. Mothers serve the rotis, while fathers sit and eat. Fathers are supposedly the only ones doing the real work and are viewed as more knowledgeable. Mothers were disappointed at not being appreciated enough, urging future mothers to teach their sons to be more sensitive and caring to the sacrifices women make every day.
8. Don’t stop your sons from expressing emotion
“Larkai nahi rotai.”
“Pink larkiyon ka color hota hai.”
This, mothers say, is the worst thing you can do. Equating empathy with weakness is not okay. Teaching sons that women are naturally more emotional human beings is wrong. Boys are allowed to be just as sensitive as girls.
9. Don’t set a different curfew for your son
In Pakistan, late night coffee shops are often populated with more men than women. The reason is obvious. Sons have a later curfew than daughters. Apparently, it has something to do with “honor” and “family integrity” but really, it’s all about pandering to unjust societal pressures and standards. Mothers suggest setting the same time for both, regardless of gender. It is important for sons to see equality being practiced in every space.
10. Don’t constantly pressurize them to settle down
“Mera beta settled hai.”
Boys have the added pressure of being successful because a good job means a wife and the ability to take care of your family. “Settling down” means something different for a son (get a job) versus a daughter (get married). As a result many boys assume that they will be the main breadwinners. The idea of a woman bringing more money is not appreciated and often hurts a man’s ego.
11. Show them that child-rearing is a shared responsibility
Teach your sons that child-rearing is the job of a mother and a father. Giving achi turbeeyat is their responsibility too. Pakistanis are often shocked to see a father or brother change a diaper, with people constantly praising the man when he helps out. It is almost assumed that child-rearing is the sole responsibility of the mother (because child bearing is just not enough!). We talked to mothers about this and they felt the pressure to be the perfect mother was too much.
While we’re grateful to these moms for sharing their advice, we know there’s a lot more that needs to be done by both parents to raise decent sons. Know about more helpful parenting tips? Share em’ in the comments.
Cover image via Oriental Films