I am the mother of two boys. I love them more than life itself, as all of you mothers out there can relate. My gentle and quiet three-year-old is a contrast to his outgoing and boisterous almost two-year-old brother. I often wonder what they'll be like as adults, what kind of husbands they will be and what type of moral compasses they will have. As I sit with girlfriends and they tell me about the trials and tribulations of their marriages, I hope that my sons will know how to handle difficult situations, particularly within their own marriages.
I come from a culture that is primarily male-dominated. The boys can do whatever they want and the girls must learn to become domestic goddesses and "yes" women. Because really, who's going to marry you if you don't know how to make a good curry and maintain a clean home? And God forbid you wait to get married because those eggs of yours will begin rotting away. We are taught that our worth is determined by the amount of recipes we know, how fertile our eggs are and sure, a degree here and there makes you more sell-able -- all to find a good husband of course.
So this is where my parenting methods come into play. My fear is to raise boys who go through life having a sense of entitlement. Who go from living in their mother's home to marrying someone who takes over the mothering role. I want them to be independent beings long before they get married. I don't want them to live with me after marriage. In fact, I look forward to moving into my South Asian nursing home one day where we can all share the commonalities of daal, drooling, diaper changes and fighting over the new young male intern.
It is a must for me to raise boys who know how to cook, clean, do laundry and maybe even make fantastic roti. I obviously want them to go to school and become great at whatever profession they choose to be in but I don't think the buck should stop with providing a great income and letting the rest fall to the wayside.
I want them to use words to describe their feelings, not fists.
I want them to be rough and tough and yet gentle and loving.
I want them to learn that those who cry are the strongest ones of all.
I want them to firmly believe in their heart of hearts that women are meant to be cherished and respected.
I want them to know that as long as they live and as old as they get, I will continue to kiss and hug them, no matter who is around. But I'm also aware that I will have to take a step back when it is time for them to get married.
I do not want to compete with another woman for my sons' attention. They are my sons and that will never change.
I am their mother. It is MY responsibility to make sure they have respect for women and don't just see them as food providing, housekeeping, baby makers. It helps that they have a great role model in their father. Who, while running his own company, has probably changed more diapers than I have, has taught himself to cook online (albeit I still interfere and anxiously think he's doing it all wrong) and most recently built his boys a kitchen out of boxes in our basement so they too can cook alongside us.
If there's one thing I'd like to be known for above anything else, it's being a great mother who raises boys that come into a marriage ready to take on responsibility, both inside and outside the home. I don't want to raise either of my boys to be someone's problem one day. I may not have full control over that but I do know that I can try my best with what I can control and it all begins inside the home, with the primary female role model leading the way. I just need to figure out how to find that balance of spoiling them with love while teaching them that appreciation and respect for all others, male or female, is the highest form of self-respect.
By Sheba Siddiqui
HOW DO YOU TEACH YOUR SONS ABOUT RESPECTING OTHERS INCLUDING WOMEN?
Follow Sheba on twitter @shebasid
Read more posts from Sheba on parenting boys on masalamommas:
Teaching Kids the Art of Appreciation