Back when there was a shit – storm across the globe due to #metoo movement, the first realization that came forth was that the world will be a batter place. As a citizen you were joyous and relived watching the skeletons tumble out from the closets. But as a parent to a boy, I was confused and a little worried.
The thought that my son will harass or assault another person, or being victims themselves, is enough to keep me up at night. Any father is likely to share my worry.
Fatherhood and parenting as we know is a constant series of hacks to make your family life better. As boy grows up, there is tremendous amount of pressure on them as a teenager and “behave like a man”, which most likely is an eschewed form of manhood.
Avoid benevolent sexism
It all starts with teaching our boys chivalry which begins with small acts of courtesy involving opening the door or giving up seats for opposite sex. The problem starts when these acts transform the mindset that women should be cherished and put on pedestals fosters what’s known as benevolent sexism, which subtly demeans women as fragile and less competent.
This behavior and mindset reinforces a sexual script in which a man takes charge while a woman remains passive.
Even if the intentions are not ill, it has been seen that such treatment for women links to hostile sexism and degrades women who do not fir in the preconceived mold of pure and compliant.
Its vital as fathers to make our sons understand that masculinity is not about protection women , instead standing up for all that are vulnerable.
Empathy & Compassion
Sexual entitlement are often woven into the culture where young boys start viewing women as objects. Things get worse when media put scantily clad women promoting everything from Calvin Klein lingerie to fast cars.
All the media being ubiquitous, as fathers we need to foster empathy and compassion for the women as they see themselves surrounded by all the men. Encourage them to realise what women must have gone through being surrounded by all the men who are aggressive and dominant.
Such perspectives will build empathy and compassion in young boys subconscious and not something that will be taught at school.
Parents need to reconsider gender based division of chores around the house or even where they work. Traditionally daughters are being encouraged to aspire for positions and profession which traditionally has been held by males. However, what is lacking is boys being encouraged for traditional female roles like nursing, elementary education etc.
Breaking gender stereotypes in everyday life is vital for boys, as they understand the perspective of being a girl. This can be furthered by encouraging boys to take up chores around the house typically given to girls like like mending clothes and dusting furniture and nurturing younger siblings.
Likewise, promoting the freedom to be vulnerable and sad, rather than just angry and strong as well as celebrating creativity and quiet introspection are also key to countering patterns of gender inequality.
Fathers are normally the keeper of gender boundaries for boys across household. There fore its vital for fathers to strive to loosen the restrictions on the kinds of men their sons can be, but also to make a point of calling out gender stereotypes.
This is easier said then done as every cell of their body will try and resist the teaching we as fathers try and impart. However, keep it consistent and pick your moments to initiate the discussion always keeping the long view.
Remember that they are trying to carve out themselves as they grow up so being patent and loving will go a long way.
Freedom of Emotion
Boys need to feel and express their emotional state. They need to understand that its totally fine to feel sad and hurt and even shed tears. That they are humans first before they are boys.
About half of men surveyed agree that guys should act strong even if they feel scared or nervous inside. These beliefs have real consequences: Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, more likely to binge drink, more likely to be expelled from school, more likely to commit a violent crime, and boys are more likely than girls to commit suicide.
Reach out for help
Young boys or men have a hard time reaching out for help when they are in a situation. And when they do reach out for help, its usually their girlfriend or mothers.
As they are expected by fellow males to handle their problems by themselves, the burden to emotionally support men falls on females. This also leave men without any professional help both mentally and psychologically.
Our society and culture has confused the meaning of consent and its understanding. This makes decision making hard for youngsters and obscures the reality f the situation from them. This leads to bad decision making.
From young age we need to tell our boys to ask before they touch others and that it’s also okay for that person to say no. We need to teach them to build healthy communication skills and to form relationships with people of all genders based on respect and mutual admiration. When everyone understands consent, all of us are better off.
Talk about Pornography
When a young boy is exposed to porn, in which women are freely referred to as “sluts” and “whores”, he quickly gets an unhealthy idea of what it means to be a man.
They will be quick to understand that the world works in this way having had no context. This is where fathers need to step in to bring some context and perspective tot heir understanding.
When he gets to an age when you think he might see it, talk about how porn is a performance designed to shock, make money and entertain. Like several things that one sees in movies and television, its not real and is designed for monetary reasons and the performers are actors.
Explain that it’s a long way from the shared, mutually enjoyable act that good sex should be.
We need to teach our sons that equality is just as good for boys as it is for girls. It allows both to reach their potential without limits being imposed on how they think or what they can be when they grow up.
Make it a family value that everyone they meet is worthy of dignity and courtesy, whatever their sexual identity. As boys are surrounded by other males who influence their thinking, it becomes more important to course correct their thinking regularly.
We need to raise our boys in an environment where they are free to make pink their favorite colour or likes to play with a doll house. This does not mean he would not play with dinosaurs or watch avengers later .
It means that there is no girl thing or a boy thing in an household. This also means staying away from phrases like ” boys will be boys” or any stereotypical phrases. This importance is given to treat everyone as a human first and not based on sex.
The most important thing that you can do as a father is to treat the females around the house with utter respect and not like second class citizen. This is where young boys will pick social cues on how he should emulate this behavior.
Sons often learn a lot from their father good and bad together. So as fathers, we need to be extra care full on what the package contains.
In the wake of #MeToo, many young men feel uncomfortable making the first move. The larger focus of the movement went on to boys but there are also incidents where girls have harassed boys.
Out of that fear, a lot of guys are changing their dating behavior. For some, that’s good because their behavior needed to change. However, others are taking it too far, like the many 18- to 25-year-old men who now believe offering to buy a woman a drink or complimenting her looks is harassment.
In such scenario its vital for young men to know that not only is it OK for them to pursue a relationship with a young woman, but young women largely would prefer that men make that first move.
Keep Educating yourself
Its always a good idea to learn more so you can impart they same knowledge and help to your kids. There are various books and experts who constantly writ eon such topics.
Its good to follow them to consume the information which you might need in the near future.
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