Are you a mother? A good mother?

Assuming the answer to the first question is yes; then you were once a single lady who got married whether it was via an introduction, meeting independently or any other way. So did you find getting married hard or easy?   Did you find yourself in a role in which you were the new slave of the household?

Your role was/is to: –
• Cook for all members of the household
• Clean the house no matter who made it messy and however many times this was done.
• Serve food to guests and your husband before yourself
• Wash clothes for everyone in the home
• Wash the dishes etc. each time someone ate
• Look after the children
• Have a paid job
• Accept that you do not have any rights to your wages
• Give up what you want to help others in the family who might not need, but want, something.
• Do not think for yourself and voice your opinion if it is not in line with the family ethos
• Never let anyone see your husband helping you with anything!

Is this any where near correct? If so, did you like it? Did you agree with it? If you didn’t question it then, do you think it’s appropriate now?

Then why don’t we make a change by bringing our sons and daughters up to be less narrow minded, more gracious, more willing, more understanding and accepting that both individuals are human beings with rights that are equal and not less than, those of the male!

Can’t we teach our sons how to fend for themselves? Wash their own clothes, iron them, put them away properly, cook, clean up after themselves, take their own plates in, get up from the table to get something that they want if everyone has sat down to eat; rather than mum getting up to get it etc. These are a few examples of skills that we do not seem to be equipping the husbands of the future with. Why?

Why do we need to molly coddle them? To make ourselves feel important? To feel needed? To feel depended on? If we got rid of all this, they would mature better off, quicker and perhaps rely on us for other things; rather than being used to being babied by females around them.

What about the girls? Why do we expect them to do everything at such a young age? Women will talk about what their daughters can do and compete, discussing the age at which they could e.g. cook or clean without help! This is not the most important thing in the world! They need to learn NOT to inherit the traits of the older generations. To be sharp? Yes! To gossip? No! To be bitchy? No! To try and make others feel inferior? No! To protect? Yes! To teach, rather than humiliate? Yes! To lie? No! What is a good reason to justify why they cannot attend an family/community event? Is studying a good enough reason? What should girls be taught? Should we encourage them to learn things other than cooking, sewing and cleaning? We should support them to speak up and be more involved in items that interest them. They should not believe that only men should speak about their views, rights and politics, for example. Their thoughts and opinions are valid. Aren’t they?

I put a question to you. Is it right that their brothers sit and do nothing simply because their sister is at home? Should they not all share the responsibility of cooking, setting the table, clearing up and so on? The days when the men sit and the women do; have LONG GONE so let’s help our sons change with the times. If not, we will make their lives very hard for them when they are married and everything that they were brought up to believe as right; is challenged! It will be difficult for them to change then.

Shouldn’t BOTH boys and girls, learn to drive, shop for fruit and vegetables, plan events, meals, cook, clean up, organise themselves, maintain themselves, learn the value of money AND follow what interests them and makes them happy? If they are like the majority of the population they will spend over 40 years working so shouldn’t it be something they enjoy, mentally and financially? Thus we should encourage them to follow a career they’re happy in and good at, rather than, careers that carry high status or an amazing wage. Money is not all the matters! Also, with regards to the status, what is regarded as a ‘high status’ job will change depending on the person holding the view. In my mind, the most important view is that of the person who’s going to do it day in, and day out.

I write this only in the hope that you will think about what I have said as that is a step towards changing our community for the better.

Dedicated to all mothers, mothers to be, mother in laws and mother in laws to be.

And fathers? I have not referred to them separately because parenthood is a partnership, not a role for the mother alone. Thus all of the above does NOT exclude fathers. However, I have dedicated this article to mothers because I feel that they can be the key to helping our ‘old fashioned’ men and women understand what their future, and the future of their children, rests on.

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Sagar Shah · June 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm

I think your last point is interesting – you aimed this blog post at women.

Unfortuantely – I think that in households where women do everything and the men do very little – I doubt the women will have that much influence in how things end up getting shaped – as often it is men who are in control in these households.

Interestingly – I think it is the change of culture between the people in India and over here is key. I don’t think there is anything wrong with specialisation within the household – as long as everyone is treated with respect – which is what takes place with many of my relatives who live in Jamnagar.

In the UK – I know of very few households where girls and boys are treated very differently – i.e. households where there are substantially different treatment/expectations across boys and girls. In general – I would say most children (both girls and boys) are spoilt (in terms of having everything done for them), but generally within a household either all are spoilt or none are spoilt (its never the case that the boys have everything done for them and the girls have to do more housework).

I acknowledge my opinion may be biased as I know very few households that I would classify as being very ‘traditional’.

I also think that within my (Jain/Kenyan Indian) culture girls do not learn to be bitchy/gossipy from their parents – but it generally comes from their schooling / from their peers.

I also think that even though there is generally equal treatment within households – even in households where who should do what is ideologically neutral across gender, girls will still probably end up doing much more than boys inside the household – and I think this ultimately boils down to the fact that I think men are generally much lazier than women, and care less about househoold things such as cleanliness and food.

If anything, I think to correct for this laziness, if anything – when growing up boys should be less spoilt than girls. But I’m not sure I would advocate treating children differently on the basis of the gender…

    Heena Modi · June 9, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Specialisation within the household is such a nice, dignified and respectful way to put it! 🙂 It definitely isn’t an easy job from what I hear especially when kids are involved.

    Re being spoilt, I think you are right. Generally kids have a lot done for them and this can range from parents carrying their things to school & putting it away for them, to bringing them a hot lunch at 12 noon, buying them whatever they want etc.

    Hmmm. Unfortunately for those concerned, I know many households where the daughters and daughter in laws are ‘worked’ while the gents sit, are served and are cleared up after! It’s as if the ‘mothers’ want them to be treated like royalty and become or remain lazy. The thing is, it wont do them any favours if they end up with a woman who wont accept that or if they end up in a situation where they both need to work. This would be an even more unrealistic expectation in an household where both partners worked. Right?

    I’m not sure about the source of learning to gossip but I know women over 40, 50 and 60 years old who are like that. Do you really think they all learnt it from school/their peers? I guess, either way, it’s not a good thing! 🙁

    I know what you mean. Make them do more to stop the laziness but treating them differently to their sisters would be unfair! A catch 22.

    As always, thanks for your comments Sagar 🙂

    I guess I still feel that women/mother figures need to make sure boys are taught how to do domestic tasks and talk to them so that they don’t view it as a ‘women’s’ role.

    I think ‘parents’ also find it difficult to tell the truth. To create an easy life for themselves they use their children as a reason for not being somewhere or not doing something. I really think that needs to change as well. The truth can hurt and the challenge will be in the need to work on how we deliver messages. However, that has to be better than lying and setting the example that it’s OK to lie. Right? When our own children do the same to us we wont be thankful and we probably wont accept that we are responsible for them thinking it’s OK to lie to get what you want or have an easy life.

    Some more food for thought…

Sagar Shah · June 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I really don’t think lying as an excuse is the biggest issue that parents face. I can only imagine how difficult a task being a parent is – and even if you do not directly need to do something for children – getting some alone time (to get away with not being somewhere) is a perfectly valid excuse in my opinion.

Of course – delivery of messages is also very important too…

Yes – of course bitchiness / gossipiness – its not just from school – but I think peers and parents may be just as important…. Not sure if general society/culture magazines / television helps in this dimension.

I think there might be a polarisation in the future.

1) Households where married couples live with in-laws and end women end up getting a very raw deal – extra work in the house + managing everything else.

2) Households with spoilt kids who end up living by themselves – and don’t do much domestic stuff themselves (have cleaners / aupairs etc etc)..

3) Households where both couples arn’t spoilt and end up splitting work within the household more easily.

I have a funny feeling that the partner ‘selection effect’ will be such that children from a household of type 1) are more likely to end up with someone else from a partner from type 1). and so on for type 2s and type 3s.

    Heena Modi · June 9, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Oh of course. Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to sound as if lying was the biggest problem. It however, does bother me when people hide behind their kids and are not honest. Especially, when it may get mentioned and the kids don’t know they were supposed ‘covering’ for their parents! Gets awkward! 🙂

    Traditionally you’d be right about number your first point. However, in SOME households the ladies get help and feel as if they couldn’t do without their in laws! Nice huh?

    Point number 2 is on the up! 🙁

    3 sounds good but I’m not sure if it’s an ideal, a minority or if it’s common practise…..

    You may be right re the partner selection effect. Who knows. Shall we do a study? LOL! 🙂

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