Daily Archives: April 18, 2018

#WeTheParents – Confessions Of An Angry Mother

Mother Yelling at her child

I am guilty. Of hitting my child and getting angry at him. Guilty of breaking the law, breaking the promise I made to myself and guilty of letting him feel that violence is ok. Because it is not. It never is. I am not writing this to absolve myself of my guilt but just to get the message across to as many people as I can that it may have happened with you, and you may have 100 reasons to justify it but it is never Ok.

A statement people usually make is “If I had to do it again I would not change a thing”. That is something I cannot say about myself. Given a chance I would like to delete forever the times I lost control and hit my child. And yet “losing control” are words that seem to take away the responsibility from the perpetrator. We don’t hit when we lose control. We hit when we want to exert our control. It is power play plain and simple. I always thought I would be different. When I hear of parents using belts, slippers, and worse I feel outrage and relief that at least I am not one of those people. But that is not good enough. Still makes me a hypocrite.

Why is it that we seek so much control? Our frustration, our disappointment and our inability to stand up for what we need and deserve in our own lives make us displace all our shortcomings on the one person in our life who has literally no one to turn to and nowhere else to go. The child.

Trust me I know how it feels when an entitled brat throws a tantrum, or a snooty teen pulls a long face at a meal you have slaved over. After a particularly trying day with your boss, the last thing you want is a bored “whatever” from the apple of your eye. Children will do all of this to push our limits. They will do worse. They will lie to us and hide from us and mock us by doing the very same things they have been warned against. They will be rude and temperamental and as parents, we have all had moments when we wished we could give our children away. It’s not because they are little monsters. It’s because that’s how they grow and that’s how they learn and let’s be frank it’s what we all did.

Discipline is needed. Obedience too. However, fear as a disciplining technique has a very short shelf life and a very long afterlife of resentment. Never think you are hitting your child for their own good. You are only perpetuating a cycle of violence. Violence that we inherited that we are now passing on. It must end. It has to.

I have not been a good role model to my son. What I have been is honest. I am a work in progress. And at 39 years there is still too much work left and very little progress as far as being the ideal person is concerned. The only thing I have been able to do it is sincerely apologise and be on my best behaviour, hoping just hoping that time will heal it all.

#WeTheParents – Kya Aapke Toothpaste Mein Feminism Hai?

Illustration: Rebecca Hendin via Buzzfeed

“Feminism” What a misunderstood word it is. Over the years, people including women have asked me “You are not one of those feminist-types na?” I am. I am one of those. I am going to bring my feminist germs into your clean patriarchal thinking where everything has it’s defined place and a woman’s opinions have no place. Nowadays there is an even more abusive name for women like me. We are called “FemiNazis”. Yes that’s who we are. We want to exterminate the male gender just like Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews. Imagine what will happen if women like me reproduce? What if I give birth to a brood of independent thinking little brats who dare to have their own opinion? Well I just have one independent thinker and it’s a continuous struggle to raise him as a feminist. Feminism is not exactly a protein powder that I can stir into his daily glass of milk.

I recently read an article on ‘How Feminist mothers can Raise Feminist Sons’. The first suggestion was to start early. We have to inoculate our children at a young age against gender stereotypes. This is where it gets tricky. Children look at each other as peers and equals. What girls ought to do and what boys ought to do is something we adults teach them. In our attempt to raise ‘good sons’ we unconsciously reinforce patriarchy by teaching them to “help her, she is a girl”, “don’t fight with her she is a girl”, “be a gentleman” and so on which widens an already existing divide and subtly influences them to think less of women. My son is actually the only boy in his class and when relating an argument, he had with a girl he asked “Will you take her side because she is a girl?”. Good question. Gender bias can work both ways. Which is why if I have to raise my son as a feminist, I have to free feminism from the trappings of gender. Feminism is about power balance. “Respect women” and “Don’t hit girls” should be replaced with “Respect people” and “Don’t hit anybody”. For why do we behave disrespectfully or hit anyone? Only because we perceive ourselves as more powerful.

Gloria Steinem the famous American activist and feminist said “While we have the courage to raise our daughters like our sons we have rarely had the courage to raise our sons like our daughters.” Maybe we should just raise our children as children. Children who understand that being different is okay but being treated differently is not. Choices of colours, clothes and careers; choices of thoughts, words and deeds should all be set free. Language should be set free. Free…until the words ‘like a boy’ or ‘like a girl’ cannot be interpreted negatively.

The synonym to feminism is equality. Equity is needed for equality. Systemic injustices have been done over the years as one gender has had the advantage and those injustices must be set right by positive action and better opportunities for girls but not because they are girls but because they are our children. Let’s celebrate our differences because different can still be equal.