GENDER IS JUST A BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE, NOT A WAY OF LIFE

I have a girl and I love her to bits, as I imagine every Mother in the world must do, regardless of the sex of her child. But even though my child is my everything, the centre of my universe, there was still a fraction of a second when I betrayed her and wished she was born a boy.

Did that surprise you? It surprised me too when it happened. When I lay motionless,  barely conscious in the operating room, and when the Doctor pulled her out from the gaping hole in my belly, she held her up for me to see her for the first time. I was overjoyed to see my baby finally, but right on the heels of that pure joy came that sickening moment which was the biggest betrayal to my baby girl. Because in that moment, however small it was, I wondered how it was that I brought forth a girl, when its a boy I had prayed for?

It’s true, I wanted a boy. People used to tell me how myopic my views were, how archaic my reasons sounded for wanting a boy in a family that was overflowing with boys. They accused me of being patriarchal and old-fashioned. They didn’t know the real reason, and I told no one because I feared a backlash if I did – I didn’t want another girl going through what women go through every day. To be specific, what I went through. If I bore a girl and brought her up only for her to be stared at, catcalled, or heaven forbid, touched or violated by some disgusting leche; or even to see her being mentally tortured or conditioned into believing that she was weak, that she had only one job in the world, or that she was secondary to someone, it would break my heart just like it breaks the hearts of millions of mothers out there who have daughters who have faced the ire of the world for being a woman. No mother would want her child to suffer through things like differential treatment, lewd stares, periods, leaving her home for another, dowry, domestic violence, family pressure for babies, and the list goes on…  But the heavens gifted me a girl, and now I wouldn’t exchange her for any number of boys.

But am I the only one who wished to have a boy for the reasons that I enumerated above? I suspect not. There are parents who have wanted a boy for reasons far worse than mine. And that’s why we have baby girls being killed off in India – a nation known for its reverence to its vast array of goddesses, yet infamous for little regard to the women in their own homes.

I will not go into the gory details of what female foeticide and infanticide are and what the stats say about them. If you wish to know that, please click here. I’m here to discuss the reasons behind it. And my own story is part of the perception that fuels this problem. I know that women, in general, don’t have it easy in any part of the world, but I can only attest to the situation in my own country. In India, a female child is unfortunately considered by many, an unwanted commodity, who has to be fed, clothed, educated only so that she can be the nurturer for someone else’s family. And even though it is this girl who is going to eventually perpetuate the family of another, it is the burden of the girl’s family itself to bring the dowry. Is that not the wrong way around? Forget that, why must there be a dowry at all for a ‘family member’, or for a ‘human being’? Is that how families should begin – by a barter of the boy’s hand for money or gifts from the girl’s family? Who’s genius, twisted and mercenary idea was it anyway?! But dowry remains the prime reason why girls are killed in a mother’s womb or right after their births in India. The economic strain of rearing and the eventual loss of a girl becomes the reason for their doom.

Where does the problem lie? I believe it originates from our beliefs that there is a difference between a girl and a boy, apart from the biological ones. We rear them up from infancy to think that they are bound to certain ‘roles’ in society because they were born with certain body parts. I also believe that the problems faced by Indian girls and women today have their origin, partially, in how we bring up our boys to consider themselves the ‘superior gender’; the other half originating in women themselves who think that a girl is a commodity, to be hawked away at a price. The problem of female foeticide and infanticide persists even in the modern era because of our skewed perception of what a girl signifies. To most traditional and pseudo-modern Indians, a girl signifies a freeloader. Like every freeloader, she is taken for granted and treated as secondary, in matters of health, education, occupation, even in marriage. Who wants a freeloader? No one. And so, no one wants the responsibility of raising a girl, but they only want the ultimate benefit a girl brings – the furtherance of the family name. What noble intentions indeed!

To be sure, there are laws, government initiatives, family planning programmes, free education initiatives and other sops offered to parents to deter them from sex-selective abortions and infanticide, but to eradicate the problem from the root we must teach ourselves that a gender is not a ‘way of life’… it’s only a gender, a biological difference. 

I bet if we were to bring up a boy and girl in isolation they would exhibit emotions and preferences conventionally ascribed to both their own gender as well as those ascribed to the opposite gender. It’s only when society and cultural influences come in, that the gender stereotypes begin to emerge in a child. My girl, for example, loves cars instead of dolls, she digs shorts, not skirts, she won’t allow her hair to be pulled into a ponytail , she won’t wear ballerinas, but shoes and has a morbid fear of headbands. She loves any activity that involves getting filthy and tumbling around, and her emotions are never tempered by any feminine restraint. And yet there are times when she’s affectionate, motherly even, and does not flinch from being a diva – like when she says ‘cheese’ for the camera! She’s at once, a girl and a boy, and all of that is because SHE IS HUMAN. 

Perceptions like ‘you must cook because you’re a girl’ or ‘you must be strong because you’re a boy’, may have originated in necessity, so that the man could forage for the family while the woman tended to the home, but those times have come to a close. We live in an age today when our technologies and our education afford both the genders the ability to be either the nurturer or the bread-winner, or even both. Then why must we doggedly hold on to the archaic beliefs about ‘gender roles’? Why should we as parents perpetuate those stereotypes? Why teach our daughters that they must be demure, pliant, understanding, forgiving and kind ONLY because they are girls? And on the contrary teach our sons to be fierce, strong, unabashed and sharp ONLY because they are boys? Are these attributes not human attributes? Why must they be divided to define only a type of gender? 

Being parent to a girl should not be a burden, but being parent to a human being, requiring the same amount of care and effort that one puts into the upbringing of a boy child. Even if our worries about our girls are founded in the loftiest of good intentions, it’s ultimately a way of telling our girls that they are somehow weaker than boys. If we are to breed stronger women, we must start by making them stronger at home, bringing the change in our families, our perceptions, cut off traditions that teach us otherwise, and only then can this become a nationwide, or a worldwide change.

But until this change occurs in the upbringing of every child, boy or girl, and every family member, there will always be an ounce of worry attached to the birth of a girl.

 

WHAT MOTHERHOOD TAUGHT ME ABOUT TIME

I need to make time for working out.

You should make time for the kids.”

He needs to make time for his check-ups.

These are just random sentences, from everyday lives, but notice how they all use the phrase ‘make time’. How do you think this phrase originated? I mean come to think of it, you can’t make time. It’s there already, right? Did the English make a mistake? Remember how Amitabh Bachaan says in the movie Namak Halal, “English is a fun-ny language”? Not really. There is a lot of wisdom in that phrase.

Why we say ‘make time’ is because, even though time itself is infinite, we have only a finite amount of time to do everything that we want to do; we have to fit it all in those few minutes, hours, months or years that we have. Making time means shifting around your finite amount of time, to make space for that something that you have been sitting on. Ultimately, it’s upto you to manipulate your time to find the time to do something.

These days everyone is busy. We have jobs, bills to pay, our homes to look after, families to tend to, and social events to attend. Getting a breather is difficult and we’re often even working on vacations and on days off. We are so busy that we don’t have time to call, pay visits, celebrate festivals or events with those who matter to us. We just text them  or WhatsApp them and tell ourselves, ‘That should do. They’ll understand because I’m busy’.

But are we busy? Or are we hiding our laziness behind our ‘busyness’?

Do we really have no time to spare, no time to ‘make’ for things that we want or ought to do?

 

Why am I patronizing? I’m no less.

When I was working full time at a law firm, I used to think that I was the busiest person on the planet. I had no time for anything at all. No time to meet friends or family, no time to care for my health, no time to indulge in my hobbies, no time to prepare for my CS exams. I would always cry, ‘I have no time!’ Yet, I would find time to watch the latest flicks, chit-chat non-stop with my homies or go our on shopping sprees with my besties.

Then I got married and suddenly, even though I wasn’t working anymore, I was busier than before. Boy, those late nights watching reruns of shows or Whatsapping friends over the phone, were history. Chores at home won’t end. One would finish and the other would line up for my attention, and by night time, I would be dead tired. But then I enrolled for Masters in Law. And then everything went for a toss! Days blurred into each other as I tried to cope up with the syllabus and the truck-loads of assignments. My family used to complain how they never got to hear from me for days on end. But even then, I would find time to hang out with friends, go out, work out, what not. I hope by now, you’ve noticed something.

But motherhood changed everything!

Time is elastic. When you’re a parent, suddenly you’ll feel like time is flying by and you have no control over your own life. And yet there are moments, like when you’re trying to put your child to sleep, or in my case, when you’re trying to make her eat, you’ll feel like time has come to a standstill. There were days when I had no time to brush my teeth, take a bath or even change my clothes! Everything took a backseat and the one thing I was giving all my time to was my baby. Eventually the baby grew a little self-dependent, but I still found myself struggling with time. Then came a knee injury which finally put things into perspective for me.

I realized that I need to ‘make time’ for doing all that I want to do – like getting a job, or working out to keep myself in sound health. I realized that my excuse of not having time was just a farce for hiding my laziness. I also realized that if I carried on this way, I’d have a lifetime of regrets of never being able to do what I want. That’s when I started working as a freelancer, started my blog, picked up all those hobbies that I’d left behind, reconnected with friends and family that I hadn’t spoken to or seen since forever. In short, I started managing my time so I could ‘make time’ for all that I wanted to do.

I realized that time management comes from constant practice, trial and error, but most importantly, from trying.

The two most important lessons that Motherhood taught me are –

  • While you care for someone, you must care for yourself too.
  • No one will give you free time; you must make it for yourself.

Two years down the line, I’m happy to tell you that I’m a happier person. It doesn’t matter whether my job is working out for me or not, or that my blogging or hobbies are going unnoticed, or that I don’t get to see friends for more than a few hours every once in a few months. But it matters to me that I’m doing all of this while not sacrificing my duties as a mother or as a wife. I’m not giving myself the excuse ‘I’m busy’ anymore. I’m keeping busy in the real sense of the term.

To optimize the use of your time, you have to prioritize and compartmentalize your time so that you can squeeze the most from the very last second of your day. Read a book while you’re putting your child to bed, or call a friend while you’re taking that train to work. If you keep telling yourself that you don’t have time, or keep turning down opportunities on the pretext of ‘being busy’, then you’ll never get anything done, not even your jobs, because there will always be a part of you aching to do something else.

Being busy does not just mean working at a desk job. You can be busy being a parent, or busy being a student, or even as a couch potato. But being busy doing just that one thing, is a waste of a lifetime, because life has so much to offer.

So ‘make time’ for all that you’ve wanted to do – be an artist, a dancer, a photographer, a tourist or just spend time with those you love and want to connect with. Call instead of texting. Meet instead of calling. But don’t hide behind the excuse that you’re busy.

You have just one life. Make the most of it.

 

Pradita Kapahi

CHANGES IN LIFE – THY NAME IS MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD

Hi Everyone,

Change is permanent.

Got a new i-phone, proudly showcasing it but got to know that your friend got an upgraded model at revised (read lower) price, what a change? Everyday new, newer inventions and discoveries strive to change our lives.  So, change is here to stay and it’s everywhere.  Weather changes everyday, season changes quarterly, water in river changes every year, government changes every five years (if we are fortunate enough and no mid-term polls) and numerous examples to establish the fact “change is permanent”.

When change is mentioned in reference to human life one incidence that effects life of every soul irrespective of their social standing, caste or creed is the sacred institution of marriage and following that is parenthood.

Marriage changes life for both the parties involved.  As soon as a girl and boy gets married they have big changes awaiting them.  Now the words “my family” embraces a new world altogether.

For a girl the change starts with the surname.  Soon everything associated with her parental house is a past including her habits and hobbies.  She might not have entered kitchen till the D-Day of her life but soon after marriage she is supposed to don the cap of cook and excel in the culinary art.  As soon as a girl enters her new home she is entrusted with every responsibility doesn’t matter how trivial it is.  That’s a “BIG” change for her.

When talking about the changes after marriage it will be unfair if we don’t talk from boy’s point of view.  Now every information turns into seeking permission.  Before marriage “mom I am going to see my friends.”  After marriage ” can I go to see my friends?” This is just one example. Many such instances can be given.

And what follows marriage just sets the life on a roller coaster ride, Parenthood!  Yes it does.  When a couple becomes parents they are hosting a whole gamut of changes in their lives.  Suddenly they are night watchman (woman), timetables keeping an account of feeding times, can no longer stay relaxed on weekends and binge on leftovers of day before, have to perform the role of clone as well.  In short you have to be whatever you are not before.

Till now whatever we have discussed they are more or less on lighter note.  An incredible change that marriage and parenthood brings is that they make us responsible. They make us think beyond “Me”.  They make us learn the importance of patience and compromises.  More importantly it galvanize the concept of “sharing is caring” in our lives.

It’s a difficult but a good change nevertheless (more often).

Raise your hands who agree with me, please🙋

THE ‘WHAT’ AND ‘WHY’ OF TANTRUMS

Children between the ages of 2 years to 5 years crying their heart out to get their desires fulfilled are a common sight in most shopping malls. They cry and cry till they can no more cry, or till their desired thing is purchased for them. Parents find it difficult to handle such children. They feel offended with the thought that people around would be labeling them as incompetent parents. After a couple of such episodes, many parents resolve never to take along their kiddos during the family’s time out.

Most children throw such wild tantrums. Few quiet ones are rare exceptions. Tantrums are children’s ways of dealing with emotions that are too big for them to handle. At this age, the brain of a child is still developing. The child is learning how to express his/her needs. The concepts of requesting, waiting, delayed gratification have not yet been learnt. This is the phase in which children are gradually learning to wean themselves out of the ‘demand and get’ mode, which they were used to as infants.

When children throw tantrums, they may be feeling several different emotions – out of control, tired, frustrated, hungry, etc. Hence, it is necessary to handle them wisely. Here are some ways to handle your child’s tantrums:

Stay calm

Don’t engage in power struggle with your child

Acknowledge the feeling your child is trying to express

Never leave your child alone thinking that he/she will become quiet with time

Don’t take your child to places which are beyond your means

Arrange your environment to prevent tantrums

Avoid using negative strategies such as criticizing, comparing, discouraging, shaming or physical punishment

Use positive strategies. Affirmative discipline eventually makes way for self-discipline

Patiently explain to the child what is wrong in behaving in a particular way

Reward the child for showing good behaviour till he/she masters it

Model appropriate behaviour

Don’t say NO all the time

Don’t give in to their demands all the time

The principles of behavior that you teach your child during these formative years, will go a long way in shaping their adult behavioural patterns.

 

PARENTING: WE LEARN, AS WE GO

I knew my life has changed right at the very moment I looked into my daughter’s eyes at birth. I became a parent and knew this will be the best, most important job I will ever hold this lifetime. Was I scared? Yes, terrified and I found the quote “You can’t write a prescription about parenting, because every child is different”, very true.

Thankfully, I was blessed with mine, an “easy” child. Her curiosity was unsatisfiable from an early age, which made me realize the importance of role models in her life. Not just talking about my own behavior, but to surround our family with positive, well grounded people. People she can look up to, people she can learn from. With keeping in mind, that even when you think no one is watching… think again!!!

I also found it important to involve her in extra curricular activities such as; athletics or playing a musical instrument, to help build a wider social circle and teach her how to be committed to something, building a persistent character.

Last month she became a teenager. A new phase of our life, a new phase of parenting. So far, I learned, that listening could be a better friend, than lecturing, in building a strong relationship. Listening carefully is how I can gather information about what’s going on in my child’s life and head. Listening is always the first step in solving problems.

Parenting, is something you learn, as you go. Just keep calm, and listen to your kids, and they will teach you how to raise them!

— JUDIT

BEST PARENTS TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO OVERCOME INSECURITY

Parenting is a daunting task. I am not yet a parent but still I have so many kids around me… of my sisters, my brother etc. I watch them closely. I see how parents struggle and how kids grow up reacting to their parents’ behavior.

This is an age where kids grow up surrounded by thousands of competitions. They face competition at each step in their life. They struggle when their parents put them in those scenarios where they have to go through competitions instead of just enjoying their childhood. I really pity those children who are in different reality shows and competitions participating and fulfilling their parents’ dreams & desires.

I read a study by Author Rick Warren where I found something interesting connected to this subject. I want to share that here for you all to read.   Rick says…

What we need to teach children from an early age, even before they get into school, is: God is my father, he loves me unconditionally, and he will never stop loving me.

If our children can understand and absorb that truth then, when they are confronted by someone who wants to diminish their self-worth, they can have the confidence to say, “If God likes me and I like me, but you don’t like me, what’s your problem?”

Unfortunately, most kids don’t grow up with that kind of confidence. They grow up under the cloud of comparison, constantly asking, “What does everybody else think of me?”

That’s why it is important to teach children that God is their ultimate, heavenly Father. And they need to understand that God is not like some earthly dads they may have encountered.

So what kind of Father is God? He’s …

  1. Caring. God is a caring Father who loves you and will never stop loving you. Some dads don’t care, but your heavenly Father cares about you all the time.
  1. Close. God is a close Father. Some dads are distant, but your heavenly Father has promised, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (The Bible).
  1. Consistent. God is a consistent Father. Some dads are fickle and moody, but your heavenly Father is never changing.
  1. Capable. God is a capable Father. Some dads are like Homer Simpson; they can’t do anything. But your heavenly Father is capable, able to do all things.

Amazing! Isn’t it?

Dear parents, teach your children well about God, the Father and also take care of the issue of insecurity developing within them in the midst of competitions at every stage of their lives.

Stay Blessed!