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Gender Sensitization Begins At Home

Published on: 28 October , 2017 | Kalpana Manivannan

Today morning while we were busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast alongside packing lunch for kids, my husband suddenly remembered something my nephew said to him a few days ago. It seems he noticed my husband working in the kitchen and remarked, “I have never seen my dad doing stuff in the kitchen, ever!”  Although we had a hearty laugh at that remark, we wondered about his observation. Do we even realize that our children might be watching, observing and imbibing so much from what we do every day? Kids seem so busy and self-absorbed in their tasks that we might think that they don’t take notice of our everyday actions; but they do. That passing remark is a proof for that and that got us both thinking. At our home, it's always been this way. There is no demarcation of who does what around the house. If there is a pile of laundry to be done, my husband would take care of it without a second thought. When it comes to cooking, though I am the main in-charge so to speak, but he pitches in without me asking for any assistance. It's just that it comes naturally to him, as we love doing things together, be it cooking or cleaning. It is not forced or planned. It's not even about taking turns or keeping score; it's just an unsaid understanding, that if something needs to be done, then we just do it. It’s not categorised under ‘his’ or ‘her’ job. And probably that’s why my son and daughter both took to cooking easily. Probably they just ended-up hanging around in the kitchen seeing us both there, making dinner every day. Both my kids do dishes and laundry as and when needed. And at times both of them make a fuss about doing chores too, because of course it is but natural to hate chores like any normal kid, right? But it is never because of the nature of chore. We have never implied by means of words or actions that there are certain things meant to be done by men or women; at least not by me or my husband. Of course, occasionally well-meaning grandparents and relatives do mention quite explicitly what a girl or a boy ought to do or not do, but those occasional remarks don’t do any harm to my kid’s perceptions as they see us in action day-in and day-out and that’s what has a deep rooted effect on them. It also needs special mention that all these household chores that my husband and kids are involved in, be it drying the clothes, washing the dishes or cooking, is done irrespective of whether we are entertaining guests, relatives or we are by ourselves. There is no pretence and we don’t do things just for show. They get to see what we always do. There is no chore that is unmanly, unwomanly or beneath oneself; there is no shame in taking care of your home and the people you love. So, absolutely no double standards. This has gone a long way in forming the right perception in my kids I guess. This also proves the philosophy that what we practice rather than what we preach, has a greater impact on our children. And when that is done in every aspect of life whether it is instilling values or cultural belief systems, it will have a greater effect on our children and they will learn to follow through on those values and not get bogged down by peer pressure when the time presents itself. Can’t believe that one innocent remark made by my ten year old nephew brought out such an enlightening and interesting observation. It was truly a light bulb or eureka moment for us; and it did help us arrive at a rather wonderful insight. To think we had been doing all this without actually thinking  about what it's effects would be on our kids, is well, really heartening. And to think, in all this we have been unknowingly gender sensitising our kids and asserting equality among genders;  teaching my son to be a true feminist and my daughter that she is no different because of her gender, is truly, truly a substantial achievement of sorts. All this mega dose of enlightenment while being smack-dab in the middle of a crazy working Friday morning is making me slightly dizzy. And yes, we did manage to pack lunch bags with snack, lunch, water-bottles et al for four people and put breakfast on the table by 7:30 AM. It does help having two people in the kitchen, don’t you think?
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Kalpana Manivannan

A dreamer. A Home Chef. An Amateur painter. An Urban Farmer. I live in Chennai, India, with my wonderful husband and two lovely kids. I am a teacher by profession and a blogger by choice. I have a lot of varied interests. Apart from being an avid reader, I love gardening, painting, cooking, travelling and jotting down my random musings, which keeps me wonderfully busy. My recent interest in homesteading seems to be taking up a lot of my dream space lately. Living in a beautiful farmhouse surrounded by fruit trees, a vegetable garden and lots of flowering shrubs is what I dream of. With all this craziness going, I am happiest being a mother and a wife as my world revolves around my family and their love is what makes the world go round for me.

Priya Menon 2017-10-31 10:08:32

It’s a very enlightening article. Loved every word of it Kalpana....♥️ i

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Priya Menon 2017-10-31 10:08:32

Thank you Priya! Kalpana has struck the right chord with every parent!

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Priya Menon 2017-10-31 10:08:32

Hey thanks a ton Priya. Really happy to see your feedback.

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Geethanjali 2017-10-31 08:57:34

Well articulated with such ease and clarity! And yes. it does help to have two or more hands in the kitchen.We need to train our kids to be independent!

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Mani 2017-10-30 20:35:49

Nice article. Must read for this generation

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Mani 2017-10-30 20:35:49

Thanks Mani! Gender stereotypes start at home... Dolls for girls & cars for boys... we play a critical role in shaping the fundamentals.

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limssy 2017-10-30 20:34:52

Good read.Thought provoking.it persuades me to reemphasize the fact that seeds of gender equality begins at home.it is high time we should depart from the idea of boys are boys and girls are girls. family has a greater role in grooming children with mutual respect.

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limssy 2017-10-30 20:34:52

Well said Limssy!

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Ms. Geo 2017-10-30 19:45:07

It was an awesome read ma'am. I could relate it with my younger cousin's thoughts on 'it's a women's job to cook and clean the house!' only because he hasn't seen his dad do it. It's the time for change and it surely begins at home!

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Ms. Geo 2017-10-30 19:45:07

Thank you so much Jumie. So happy to know that you could relate to it.

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Ms 2017-10-30 19:43:52

It was an awesome read ma'am. I could relate it with my younger cousin's thoughts on 'it's a women's job to cook and clean the house!' only because he hasn't seen his dad do it. It's the time for change and it surely begins at home!

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Ms 2017-10-30 19:43:52

Thanks Jumie.

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