To mothers out there,
A Few Suggestions on How to Raise Boys and Girls
It’s expedient that we raise the modern day child in a way that is useful, productive and innovative such that they can become solutions and not problems to themselves and to the society at large. Please let’s start raising our sons and daughters differently. We have all grown up and seen life differently, hence the need to do things differently. If women share the greater responsibility of raising children then let us use that medium to change the society and the good news is that we can start from our homes. Mother Teresa said go home and love your family if you want to bring peace to the world. The reason is that most people become what their families turn them into through the things they are exposed to. It’s very likely that any child who is abusive grew up in a toxic environment where the parents abuse each other and use abusive words on the children. Kindly consider these little things:
1)Teach them that there is dignity in labour.
A lot of men grew up entitled to the point that some of them do not work, they rely on their wives to take care of their children. We have a lot of young men who are conceited in their luxury, this should not be so. This is worse in Nigeria, we have a lot of young men who waste the little they earn or steal from parents, in naira bet centers and pool houses, hoping to become millionaires with luck instead of hardwork. These men eventually become husbands, they drink alcohol in excess and come home drunk having absorbed courage from cheap bottles of gin. Some of them lazy about while the wife struggles, doing petty trade just to provide for her children, the wife struggles to put them through school and it doesn’t even end there. The only work the man does is to impregnate the wife to give birth to children whose responsibility he would totally abdicate. Enough of this nonsense! We should raise our sons to work and to enjoy working. The job may not be the dream work but if you earn some money from it then do it until you get something better. Teach your hand to find something to do. Help your wives. I see some women hussle from morning till night which is a good thing, but do not be a single parent when you have a husband who will benefit from your sweat. Men and women should be contributors that’s the way to make it work. Do not be ashamed of work and be not too proud to do certain jobs. There’s dignity in labour.
2) Teach your daughters to be independent
The reason most women remain and die in abusive marriages is because they are not financially and emotionally independent. Teach your daughters to work, to grow emotionally before they consider marrriage. My father told me that I must be able to put food on my table before marriage. Most women have never worked. They rely on men for everything they need. This is wrong and this is the easiest way to lose respect. When the man bears the burden alone at some point he becomes tired and frustrated and he would vent it on you. Teach our daughters not to be consumers alone but producers and contributors. The reason most women are desperate to marry is because they want someone to take up the bills. Pls teach your daughters to pay their bills. Some women will never eat in a fast-food unless there is a man to pick up the bills. It gives me joy to pay my bills; no man can leave me stranded because I don’t depend on him. Pls mothers instead of telling your daughters to hurry and get married; tell her to work and learn to pay her bills. She will benefit more from this and will be more careful in choosing a life partner because “a rich man” will not be the number one priority.
3) Teach our sons to do house chores
Most men think that marriage is a time to stop doing dishes, a time to stop washing their clothes because of course there’s a wife to do that. This is wrong, this is the reason why many women and marriages grow weary and old, they are always tired and exhausted. They wash, cook and clean and change diapers, they bathe the children, they rush to the market, they rush to school to pick their kids. They’re always doing something. Pls teach your sons that there’s nothing wrong with a man who knows how to cook and clean. Most men would cross their weak legs before the television while their wives do all manner of chores. I have seen women complain and complain. They lose themselves in these so called marriages. Raise your son to be a better husband; raise him to be someone a woman would be proud to call “my husband”. Stop raising entitled brats as sons. One that would grow up and become a problem instead of a husband. Because that’s what most men have become, problems not husbands. Let’s do away with the mistakes our mothers made by teaching only the girl child how to do house chores. I remember growing up, I had a friend who would always rush home to make food for her brothers. Show your sons the way to the kitchen. Let them learn how to cook and clean. Let them know that house chores are not reserved for women alone. Teach them to wake up when the baby cries. Teach them how to bathe their babies and change diapers. Teach them the principle of collective responsibility. This will in turn affect how they relate well in their place of work.
4) Teach our daughters to dream big
It’s a shame that for most women, their bigggest dream is to wear a white gown on their wedding day! Ah wedding days! Most mothers raise their daughters to dream of their wedding days. Now weddings can be small, they can be moderate, they can equally be big but please let that not be the sole purpose of her existence. Instead of showing your daughter pictures of weddding gowns, show her Michelle Obama, show her Oprah Winfrey, show her Ashley Judd, show her Emma Watson, show her Hillary Clinton, show her Okonjo Iweala, show her Angela Merkel, show her Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, show her Kylie Jenner, so that even if she’s brought up rich, let her know she can be richer. It’s her job to work and build her wealth. Tell her that she can be anything she wants to be and fathers should do this as well. I thank my father for his role in my upbringing. My mother would always send me to the kitchen to cook and clean. I don’t blame her, she was simply a product of our traditional gender biased society. My father was the one who first told me to think big. He was not in Nigeria at that time. He would call to ask me what I was doing. Then I was always chopping one thing or the other in the kitchen. My father would say “drop that thing and go to the sitting rooom. Turn on the television and watch CNN, they’re interviewing Hillary Clinton. She’s a woman just like you. So there’s nothing you cannot achieve if you really want to. A woman is something. Women are now Presidents, they’re in national asssembly, they are everywhere now. So listen to them and start planning your life”. I love my father, my only regret is that he couldn’t bring out in my mother what he brought out in me. So mothers raise your daughters to think of representations in public spaces. We need more women up there to make laws that will empower us and give us control in matters affecting us.
5) Teach our sons that there is no authority before the television.
You would be surprised at the number of men who think T.V time is time to wield power. They have no respect for whatever the wife is watching, as soon as they come in, they change the channel to what suits them alone. Pls let them know that a family is made up people with different interests. We must not all be football fans and whatever the other party is watching is not inconsequential just because you’re not interested in it. In the family, learn to be considerate, have respect for other people’s interests even if you don’t agree with them. Respect earned is easier to keep. Learn to share T.V time.
6) Stop the discrimination against the girl child
Give to your daughters equal treatment and opportunity as you do the male child. Don’t dictate to your daughter what she should study in school or what jobs she should do. Avoid these false weary statements: female bankers find it difficult to get married so don’t be a banker, dont work in a hotel men will think you’re cheap, female police officers are rigid and ugly so don’t be one, nurses who abort babies are haunted so don’t be a nurse, women athletes are not soft in bed so don’t be an athlete, female lawyers find it difficult to get husbands so don’t be a lawyer, men are attracted to cheerleaders so be a cheerleader etc. Allow your daughters to make their choices, your duty as a parent is to guide not to dictate. This is the reason we have a lot of women who can’t think for themselves. They constantly need the approval of people (society) before they do anything. Allow your daughters to think for themselves and develop interests in what they like. Let them try to do things and if they fail, there’s room to try again. Many great inventions today are products of trial and error until they were perfected.
7) Do not normalise male sexual deviance and abuse
A lot of women are guilty in the normalisation of the “primitive nature of men”. We raise our daughters to fear men. To not be alone with men. This is why women who are victims of sexual abuse don’t speak up because they would ask her why she was alone with a man. Our mothers will not speak up because they want to “cover their daughters shame”. We raise girls to expect so little of men that the idea of a man cheating on his wife is just as normal as the air we breathe. We say things like “men cheat, it’s in their nature to do so, don’t worry yourself just get use to it” Let’s be clear, this is not normal! A lot of women suffer and some die from diseases contracted from husbands through infidelity. The society frowns at the cheating wife but trivializes the case of a cheating husband. We tell women to pray for their cheating husbands but tell men that they won’t fulfil their destiny if the wife cheats as if a woman’s infidelity is a curse on the man. An abusive man is just hot tempered we say. We tell women not to provoke their husbands but do we tell men not to batter women? Mothers pls raise your sons and daughters differently. A lot of mothers frown at divorce; frown at the idea of a single mother. Don’t destroy your marriage, they say. Yet many women die in abusive marriages every year. The United Nations termed violence against women a “global epidermic”. Let your daughter know that no marriage is worth her life.
8) Stop the blatant sexist metaphorical objectification of women
What is prevalent with this generation of men is the countless mataphors used in the objectification of women. We see women reduced to sex symbol for men. Teach your son to be different. Don’t condone your son calling a woman a “hot soup or a sweet orange, or sour grapes, a dog or a puppy”. In Nigeria a lot of rude boys look at a woman’s breast and call it “baby food” or “Yoghurt”. The rude manner in which a woman’s buttocks is called “a tyre”, “flat or pumped” must stop. The shameless act of referring to a woman as a taxi that anyone can ride. The shameless derogatory terms such as “borehole” used in reference to some women must stop. If we do not slut shame men then we must not shame women for their sexuality. Some men will ask “why should I marry and eat just one soup when I can have variety?” This is wrong because the hurt most women experience at the hands of men stem from this line of thought- women seen as just instruments of sexual gratification with no thought spared to consider her humanity. Teach your son that women are humans and that eventhough sex happens; no woman was created exclusively for the purpose of sex.
9) Teach them the importance of family planning
You have a responsibility over every child you give birth to. Teach them to consider the family income vis a vis expenditure. What’s important is not the number of children you have but the quality of attention, training and education you give each child. The Nigerian quote that children are a poor man’s wealth, is not only erroneous but damaging. Be careful not to let who is not wearing the shoe be the one to tell you where it’s pinching you.
Together, we can create a better world for both men and women. My name is Lilian Ohanedozi and I am a #feminist