#MeToo: How to raise gender neutral children

Posted by Chetna Sharma
October 28, 2017

Self-Published

Men and Women are Equal. Picture Credit: Shutterstock

The #MeToo campaign that took over the internet was originally created by a Black woman Tarana Burke in 2007. It became a social movement after a call to action by actress Alyssa Milano, who wrote: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Soon, personal stories began pouring in from women across the world, and the hashtag #MeToo became a rallying cry against sexual assault and harassment.

Within days, millions of women and some men – used Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to disclose the harassment and abuse they had faced in their own lives. The movement gave ordinary people the power to share their experience of sexual abuse.

Why MeToo

Three years back my son then four was developing his English vocabulary and before going to bed I would give him goodnight kiss and say “I love you.” My little boy rather than saying “I love you too” would say “me too.” That’s how I started identifying “me too.”For us it was always love.

I am a mother both to a boy and girl, who is now entering teens. As a parent it’s my constant endeavour to ensure my kids grow without gender bias, grow with equality and learn to see the world not as how I interpret it for them but with their own eyes.

What my children learn

Children don’t learn by speeches or lessons. They learn what they see – how do mother and father live in the house, how do they interact, who shares household work, who earns, do they respect each other, do they love each other. Every action of Parent forms their habit, develops their attitude.

Below is a list of activities my husband and I do:

  • We share chores: For my children house work is not their mother’s domain. In fact on weekends I have never made bed tea and breakfast.
  • We respect each other’s opinion: Many a times we have different opinions and I am free to speak my mind. We don’t say that ‘your mom is wrong’ or ‘your dad is wrong.’ We say we have different opinions and each is right.
  • I earn and sometimes I don’t: I choose to work but there are months when I don’t do anything. During that phase my husband is supportive and there is no change in his behavior. In fact he encourages me to spend more and keeps sharing chores to keep me in good spirits.
  • How we communicate: I do not speak to him in English, I always talk in Hindi. It gives me a sense of closeness that somehow other languages don’t give. And Hindi unlike English has a variety of ways on how you address a person. For elders, seniors, we use “aap”; for colleagues, peer group we use “tum”, and for kids, younger ones we use “tu.” In my early dating days I used to call him “aap” and then he said, “I am not your boss, we are equals so call me tu.” It took me a while to get used to this for I had always seen my mother address my dad with “aap”.
  • We make mistakes: We both make mistakes and forgive each other. It’s important for children to see that everything doesn’t work out as desired. What is important is “not giving up” and “moving together.”

Hope we have given this world a compassionate boy who will respect his wife the way his father did. And a strong girl who has a mind of her own, who doesn’t take any bullshit and lives as an equal human.

 

 

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