Let it be, don't teach your children the stereotypes
A friend of mine, who has a one-and-a-half-year old son, refused a gun gifted to him by someone. The reason being she did not want to introduce her child to guns so soon. She was totally convinced about it and did what she felt was right for her offspring - until her family and relatives started chiding her about turning her son into a pansy and a softie.
Suddenly she wasn't so sure. Was she doing the right thing? Was this really going to turn her son into a pansy? I didn't think so, I told her. She was the mother and she knew what was best for her child. Going by this definition, my two-year-old daughter who plays only with buses should grow up into being a bus driver. If I didn't stop her now, she will turn into an aggressive macho person when she grows up.
Actually, we, as a society, are so stuck in our gender biases and clichés. It starts right from the time you know you are pregnant. There are people advising you to eat certain things in order to have a girl or a boy. If you start looking ugly, you have a boy. If you look pretty, it's a girl. You get colour co-ordinated gifts which have blue for the boy and pink for the girl. Stores have furniture painted according to the gender of the kid you are buying it for. Birthday parties of girls have pink balloons while boys have their theme as blue.
Daughters are supposed to play with dolls and utensils while boys should play with trucks, cars and guns. Any deviation and the parents are found palpitating whether their child is growing up right. Girls should be soft spoken while boys should be aggressive and tough. Girls should paint and sing while boys should roll in the mud and wrestle about. Advertisements on television too cater to this set belief. A boy is shown winning a football match while a girl sets up her doll home.
I wonder who made these rules. A child is a child. How does gender matter or define what he does or enjoys? Self expression comes from within and cannot be defined or ruled by a set of parameters fixed by the society. If a girl enjoys flying a kite, so be it. The sky is as much hers as that of a boy. If a boy hugs a doll, it shows that he has affection in his heart too. What's wrong with that? Try explaining to a two-year-old boy that dolls don't suit him or his image. He will look at you as if you have lost your mind. And truly we have.
The challenges of adulthood are far too many. Why should we even colour a kid's childhood with our expectations and pressures? A kid will bloom into what he is destined for, no matter what you say or do. He or she will make you proud depending on your faith and how you nurture them. Gender biases and clichés only pull our kids down and limit their imagination. Our job is to ensure they always rise and shine without the fear of falling. As parents, we owe it to them.
Till my next post! You can write to me at http://mammamania.in
More about Shabia Ravi Walia
Shabia Ravi Walia is a media professional for the past 15 years. Dabbling in production, creative direction and writing, she has equal experience in both genres of fiction and non fiction. Over the years she has worked on various reputed non fiction shows like Surabhi and The Good Food Guide for Siddharth Kak, Movers and Shakers on Sony TV and well known fiction shows like Siddhanth, Kumkum, Ek thi Rajkumari, Mile Jab Hum Tum etc. She was amongst the core team who launched Sahara Samay in Mumbai for Sahara Television.
She satiates her love for writing by providing content for websites, copywriting for corporate films and penning down short skits and poems.
Currently Shabia works in the content division of a leading television channel. However her biggest achievement till date as considered by her, is the birth of her baby Sia and penning down the experiences associated with it in the form of her bestselling book 'Mamma Mania.' When Shabia is not rustling up stories, she loves to whip up a storm in the kitchen or put on her dancing shoes and burn the dance floor. Shabia lives in Mumbai with her husband Ravi and daughter Sia and is already planning her 2nd book.