As a girl grows up in an average Indian family, she is told exactly what to do and what not to, how to speak, sit, and even smile. This shapes the person she grows up to be. The fact that so many women in our society who suffer from abuse, and other forms of injustice consider it as their fate, points out at the faulty upbringing of girls.
Today, when we as women face umpteen challenges in our life where the society constantly tries to box us via its gender roles, we realise how families should take conscious initiatives to make their girls grow in a gender-neutral home. However, due to the generation gap, sometimes the parents need to be educated on what exactly the problem is in endorsing a stereotyped behaviour and how they can stop it. Read further to clearly understand what ‘not’ to tell young girls as they grow up.
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This is the most common ideology in most Indian household where the word ‘periods’ is tabooed. Stop telling your girls to whisper this word, hide their sanitary napkins and not mention anything about it in front of the males of the family. Your first step at making your daughter grow as a confident being is by helping her accept her bodily processes. Normalise periods, normalise the pain, let her ask her father/brother to get her a hot water bag. Don’t make her feel guilty for something that is not in her control.
The ‘Like A Girl’ Mentality
Sit like a girl, talk like a girl, laugh like a girl. Who defines a girl? Who says a girl with an opinion is any less of a girl than someone without it? This is a patriarchal thought process where the society has long tried to shut women down by declaring those who take a stand as less feminine. Encourage your daughter to speak up if she wishes, stay quiet if she chooses to. Her actions don’t justify her gender, these are independent of each other. By telling your girl what is the right thing to do as a girl, you are growing a woman who is scared to voice her opinions, who will constantly make compromises because that is what she thinks is a ‘girl like’ thing to do.
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Shape of the body and the skin colour don’t determine beauty. Don’t make your chubby girl look at the mirror and wince at how ‘ugly’ she feels she is. Don’t create an environment at home where your daughter who has a dusky skin tone avoids mirror. Beauty is independent of shapes, sizes and skin tones and make sure you tell this to your girl. If your daughter’s skin colour has become lighter don’t celebrate as if this is all you have dreamt of, a fairer daughter. You will shatter the confidence of your young girl by constantly pointing at her bodily features with disgust. Make sure she knows that there is nothing more beautiful than a strong-willed woman.
Leave It, Let Your Brother Do It!
If you have been saying this to your girl you are just making her feel that she isn’t competent enough, that she shouldn’t take up any responsibility upon herself. This is what makes girls grow into women who are at a constant need of male validation. They do all the work but are not confident enough to own it because they have grown up in an environment where they were not allowed to do anything without their brother’s help. Let them try it out, let them seek help if they wish to.
You Are Just Like A Son!
This is the most appreciated statement that is also extremely problematic. When you say this to your daughter you surely mean that you do not differentiate between her and your son. Noble thought. However, while making sure your treat your daughter like a son, you might lose your daughter in the process. She might grow up to be a person who tries hard to do everything like a boy would. Yet another game of stereotypes. What you should say instead is that “I don’t discriminate between my children.” The ‘Like A Son’ mentality places the son at a pedestal and the girl will constantly try to reach there, losing her individuality.
Do these things to make sure your girl grows up to be a woman who crushes the gendered mindset of the society. Stay Tuned to Her Zindagi for more such content!