In spite of being brought up in a not so conservative family, things like –“amma, water”,”amma, my uniform”, “amma, my shoes” or “akka, my books”, “akka, my homework!”(demands from my brother who was always pampered by his two doting sisters!) were a part of the daily routine. As if these were less to address to, my dad would add to the list, his demands, generally addressed to his darling wife – my coffee, my breakfast, my hanky, my clothes, my shoes!! These were orders, invariably executed by my mother, who was a doting housewife of the sixties… besides catching up with all the household chores all by herself, an almost impossible task! (imagine without maids and kitchen gadgets!)
The scene is still the same even today, in many Indian homes. The only change is that, the mother is no more only a housewife but also goes out and makes money for the family, making life even more difficult for her. At times, I really wonder, whether these men like my dad, really need a wife or just a peon to run all their errands.
Children are very good at aping. They subconsciously learn from the situations, life provides them with. In this process, dads in most homes have ended up making their sons in the same mould like themselves. So to bring about a change in society, it is very important to bring a conscious change within us and be a role model in the first place.
For me, life took a turn for good. I got married into a family, where my mom- in- law was a working woman, and my dad-in-law was a real gentleman. They had two sons. And with no sister to pamper them, the two brothers had learnt to be independent. They also had their dad, as a role model, who would help their mom in all household chores. And as a newlywed bride, I had made up my mind, not to spoil this well-groomed man and life continued.
Today, as a result, we have two well balanced grown-up kids, who are ignorant of any job being ‘ a girl’s job’ or ‘a boy’s job’. This is because they have always seen their parents work together as a team. Right from taking decisions – however, big or small, to doing all the household chores like buying groceries, baking, laundry, gardening to name a few, it has always been a joint effort!
When their mom is busy in the kitchen, they see their dad blast some music and hang around in the kitchen- at times helping me and many times just giving me company!! At the same time, they also know that when the situation demands, their mom can fix a bulb, and hammer a nail too.
Yesterday, I asked my daughter if she was free to bake a cake with me, but before she could decide, my son declared that he will make one this time! Equality after all…
It is these real-life learning experiences, which shapes the personality of our children as future adults. So instead of shouting and demanding equality from society, it is time for each one of us to take the first step at home and be a role model for the future citizens. Lend a helping hand towards all household chores and give each child the opportunity they deserve irrespective of their gender.
If girls can handle jobs and family, I’m sure boys too can give it a shot. Gender equality is nothing but the art of learning to balance your job and family life successfully. To conclude I would say, just like charity, equality too begins at home.