Raise your hand if you have been ever berated by your dad for not helping your mother with the household chores. It is curious how Indian fathers won't lift a glass of water for themselves, but expect children to not replicate their behaviour.
I recently came across a tweet that summed up the situation in Indian households perfectly. “Dads be like “ go help your mother” bro help your wife." Shared by the username juju, the tweet exposes how fathers who don’t help their wives with housework are actually setting a wrong example for their kids.
Helping mothers with housework is said to be a moral duty of kids. However, men helping their wives in the kitchen is seen to be against the grain of patriarchy.
Fathers often guilt-trip their kids into helping out with household chores, especially daughters. Look how your mother manages the house on her own. Don't you feel sorry for not helping her? Don't you realise how she is over-working herself? But by making such statements while staying outside the kitchen themselves teaches sons and daughters that eventually men can wriggle their way out of household chores, as long as they can find someone else to dump their duties on.
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Asking kids to help in kitchen: Why can't fathers do it first?
Kids grow up believing that the kitchen is for women and the outside world is for men. They internalise the fact that a man should never help his wife with housework because it challenges their masculinity and supremacy. So a son might think that while he should help out his mother, he doesn't have to help his wife with chores when he is a grown man. Similarly, a daughter might grow up thinking that she can seek help from her children but not her husband, when it comes to household chores.
Also, such behaviour reinforces the belief that men of the household are superior to other members of the family, be it their wife or their children. How are children expected to feel empathy for their mothers when the same is not expressed by dads via their behaviour. When fathers don't lead by example, children only see household chores as unwanted duties, not as tasks that should be performed by everyone in order to keep a house running.
How long will gender roles dictate the lives of Indian families? When will ">Indian families learn to see women beyond the roles they are expected to perform for them?
So dear fathers, before expecting your kids to help their mothers in the kitchen, do it yourself to set a good example for them. Fathers' presence in the kitchen has a huge impact because they are put on a pedestal in Indian families and everyone looks upto them. Fathers can use this respect to set their children on a right path to understand equality or they can simply wash off their hands towards household duties. In choosing the first option, fathers will not only help moms and remove the burden of duties off their shoulders significantly, but they will also do the same for their daughters and future daughters-in-law.
The views expressed are the author's own.