#Opinion

Will Parents Encourage Their Sons To Do Housework During Family Gatherings?

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My friend narrated the parenting style of her brother and sister-in-law which was just awesome. The kids, even though very young, knew how to cook, clean and eat on their own. The two kids involved a boy too. And I was happy that parents are now encouraging boys too to cook and clean the house. But will this happen if there is a family gathering at home? Will parents ask their sons to cook something for the guests? Or will they resort to their patriarchal notion that boys don’t belong in the kitchen? That boys who cook are a shame to the family?

Housework in our society has always been a woman’s duty. Since childhood, a girl is taught to handle housework as their primary duty, even before she is tall enough to reach the gas knob. On the other side, men are encouraged to drive vehicles, bring essentials from shops and handle family business. It is here, at home where the division of gender roles begins, where patriarchy starts to condition us. It is at home that women and men internalise that they have been brought up for different roles and one cannot do the other’s role.

Sons To Do Housework?

However, in today’s scenario, many parents have started teaching their boys to share the load at home. But when it comes to family gatherings, it is always women who stand with plates in hand to serve. While men sit down and enjoy the vibe of the gathering. No one expects them to stand up and serve the guests because women are there to do it. If you have watched the movie Badhaai Do, you can understand what I am talking about. In the film, although the couple decides to share the household work, Raj Kumar Rao’s character doesn’t do the housework when guests arrive at home. He expects his wife to make tea and pakodas for the guests.

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Badhaai Do

“My son knows to make rotis,” tells my relative while explaining the importance of housework to me. Although I was elated at the idea that my brother knows more housework than I do, I was forced to ask the question of whether my aunt will allow him to cook in front of guests. And her reply was “Ummmm…why not? I am teaching him kitchen work not because he is a boy but because he is a human. I don’t find any difference between men and women. In fact, my son doesn’t even feel shy when I ask him to serve the guests. He even makes puris for them.” However, she later said, “This doesn’t happen in every family. Even today, there are families that differentiate between boys and girls. And it is always women who cook, clean and serve.”

 Housework and Indian Men

My aunt’s reply exposed the double standards prevalent in our society. Even though on one side, the world is developing and moving towards gender equality, this effort is being pushed back by those who don’t. The major reason why some families shy away from letting their boys do housework is the idea of rigid gender roles. If boys do housework, they will be labelled as feminine. I know a family where girls do the housework inside their homes and at the homes of others. While the only son in the family doesn’t even know how to boil water. And their mother has no issue with that because she doesn’t want the masculinity of her son to be questioned.

Moreover, families teach when they teach their sons housework it is just about enough for them to survive. After they are married, the duty is transferred to the wife. Jab ma or biwi hain hi, toh ladka kitchen kyu sambhalega, they say.

It is high time we get rid of these stereotype. If parents are teaching housework to sons, they shouldn’t be ashamed of it rather take pride in it. Let us all understand that housework is a life skill.  It is not to much to expect that a person should be able to cook a square meal and clean after themselves. Definitely, it is not right to be dependent on someone else for basic chores.

The views expressed are the author’s own. 

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