In the month of March where the world celebrate International Women's Day, Cactus Foundation highlights it's unique and crucial initiative of *Key to Change - Raise Responsible Boys*
Empowering women is just one end of the spectrum to end gender based violence, another very important and ignored aspect of this fight is to raise males to step outside of the toxic standards set for them of looking at females as inferior to them.
Key to Change suggests 12 Action Points that can be put to use by families and parents to Raise Responsible Boys. This blog post addresses in detail, action point no. 2
Young children get affected by witnessing domestic violence at home
Domestic violence is a problem that affects families of all sizes and types. Unfortunately, children are often the ones who suffer the most when they witness domestic violence at home. Boys are not allowed to feel their feelings and express themselves. And when they see abuse, violence continuously they start internalizing these behaviors.
It's a heartbreaking reality that if your young children witness domestic violence at home they can suffer from long-term psychological and emotional issues. Research has shown that children who are exposed to violence between their parents or caregivers are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If your children witness domestic violence it may also develop behavioral problems, including aggression, acting out, and difficulty forming healthy relationships. As they grow older, they may struggle with trust issues, have trouble regulating their emotions, and experience difficulty with social interactions.
It's crucial that we recognize the impact that domestic violence can have on children, and take steps to intervene and provide support by ensuring they have the opportunity to grow and thrive in a safe and healthy environment.
Male children internalize father’s behavior (how they treat women)
Not all children are strong enough to have their own belief system so they think that they way women are to be treated in the similar way they see women treated in their homes especially by the father’s. It's no secret that children learn by observing and mimicking the behavior of those around them, especially their parents. And while this is beneficial in many ways, it can also have some negative consequences. One area where this can be particularly harmful is in how boys learn to treat women.
Children are constantly watching, observing and monitoring their parents subconsciously. It is true that a male child can internalize his father's behavior towards women, as children learn by observing and modeling the behavior of those around them. If you as a father consistently demonstrates disrespectful or abusive behavior towards women, your son may also develop similar attitudes and behaviors towards women as he grows up.
However, it is important to note that this is not a predetermined outcome. Fathers can also model positive attitudes and behaviors towards women, which can have a positive impact on your sons. If you are a fathers who treats women with respect, communicates openly and respectfully, and demonstrates empathy towards others, you can teach their sons to do the same.
It is crucial for you as a fathers to be mindful of their behavior and the messages you are sending to your children, especially your sons. You can take steps to promote positive attitudes and behaviors towards women by being intentional in your actions and words. This includes modeling healthy relationships and communication, being open and honest about their feelings and emotions, and demonstrating empathy and respect towards others.
You can also have conversations with your sons about respect, consent, and healthy relationships. By having open and honest discussions, you as a parent can help your sons develop a positive and respectful attitude towards women, and encourage them to seek out healthy relationships based on mutual respect and consent.
Overall, while a male child may internalize his father's behavior towards women, it is important for fathers to be mindful of their actions and words, and to model positive attitudes and behaviors towards women to promote healthy relationships and respect for all genders.
How to create a positive home environment
Assess the current environment and work towards making it possible
- Language and communication between the parents
Language and communication between you and your partner can create a positive home environment by modeling positive communication skills, fostering mutual respect and understanding, and promoting a strong sense of family unity. The way you as parents communicate with each other sets the tone for the entire household, and can have a significant impact on their children's emotional and social development.
One way parents can use language and communication to create a positive home environment is by modeling good communication skills. This includes using "I" statements instead of "you" statements, actively listening to each other, and avoiding negative language and criticism. By modeling these skills, parents can teach their children how to communicate effectively and respectfully with others.
You can also use language and communication to promote mutual respect and understanding. This includes using positive language and affirmations, acknowledging each other's feelings and needs, and working together to find solutions to problems. By showing respect and understanding towards each other, you can create a positive and supportive environment for the entire family.
Another way you can use language and communication to create a positive home environment is by fostering a strong sense of family unity. This includes using inclusive language that emphasizes the importance of family, creating family rituals and traditions, and prioritizing family time and activities. By emphasizing the importance of family, parents can create a sense of belonging and togetherness that will strengthen the relationship between family members.
When language and communication is used effectively, it creates a positive home environment that values, respects, understands, and builds a sense of togetherness. This can help your children to develop important social and emotional skills, and build stronger, healthier relationships with their family members. By modeling positive communication skills, parents can create a culture of respect and understanding that promotes a happy and harmonious home environment.
- Have and encourage difficult and uncomfortable conversations
Having and encouraging difficult and uncomfortable conversations can create a positive home environment by promoting open communication, developing problem-solving skills, and fostering empathy and understanding. Difficult conversations can be challenging, but they are important for addressing conflicts, resolving issues, and promoting healthy relationships in the home.
One way in which you as a parent can have difficult conversations is by creating a safe and supportive environment for your children to express themselves. This includes actively listening to your children's concerns, acknowledging their feelings, and validating their experiences. This can help your child to feel heard and respected, and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings openly.
You can also encourage difficult conversations by being honest and direct, avoiding blame and criticism, and focusing on finding solutions rather than assigning blame. Another way you can encourage difficult conversations is by addressing issues as they arise, rather than ignoring or avoiding them. This can help prevent conflicts from escalating, and promote a culture of open communication and problem-solving in the home. This can promote a positive and harmonious home environment.
- Disrupt the gender stereotypes
Disrupting gender stereotypes can create a positive home environment by promoting gender equality, reducing gender-based discrimination, and encouraging your child to express themselves authentically. Gender stereotypes can be limiting and harmful, especially when you restrict your child's choices and opportunities based on their gender.
One way you as a parent can disrupt gender stereotypes is by exposing your child to a diverse range of activities and interests. For example, you can encourage your sons to participate in activities typically associated with girls, such as dancing or cooking, and vice versa. This can help children develop a broader range of skills and interests, and challenge traditional gender roles.
You can also disrupt gender stereotypes by using gender-neutral language and avoiding making assumptions about your child's interests or abilities based on their gender. This can help children feel more comfortable expressing themselves authentically, without feeling constrained by gender norms.
Another way you can disrupt gender stereotypes is by providing your child with positive role models who challenge traditional gender roles. This can include exposing them to books, movies, and TV shows that feature strong, diverse characters who defy gender stereotypes.
When you as a parent disrupt gender stereotypes, it creates a positive home environment that values diversity and encourages children to express themselves authentically. This can help children develop a stronger sense of self and reduce the risk of gender-based discrimination and prejudice. By challenging traditional gender roles, you can help your child grow into confident, well-rounded individuals who are accepting of themselves and others.
- Lead by examples
Leading by example can create a positive home environment by setting a good example for children to follow. Children learn by observing and imitating their parents' behavior and attitudes, so it's important for you to model your behavior in a way you want to see in your child.
One way you can lead by example is by showing kindness and respect towards others. This includes being polite, using good manners, and treating others with empathy and understanding.
- Allow your children to think outside the assigned gender box
It's no secret that society often dictates what is considered "normal" for boys and girls. From the clothes they wear to the toys they play with, they are constantly bombarded with messages about what it means to be a boy or a girl. But what if we allowed our children to think outside the assigned gender box?
Allowing children to think outside of assigned gender roles can create a positive home environment that fosters creativity, self-expression, and acceptance. By encouraging children to explore their gender identity and expression, parents can help them develop a strong sense of self and a greater appreciation for diversity.
One way you can support your child in exploring their gender identity is by using gender-neutral language when talking about gender. Instead of referring to their child as a boy or girl, you can use gender-neutral terms like "they" or "child." This can help your child feel less restricted by societal gender norms and more able to express themselves freely.
You can also support your child in exploring their gender expression by allowing them to choose their own clothing, hairstyles, and accessories. This can help the child feel more comfortable in their own skin and encourage them to express themselves in ways that feel authentic to them.
When you allow your child to think outside the assigned gender box, they are promoting a more inclusive and accepting home environment. If your child grows up in such an environment they are more likely to be accepting of others who have different gender identities and expressions.
Overall, encouraging children to think outside the assigned gender box can promote a positive home environment that values diversity, creativity, and self-expression. By supporting their children in exploring their gender identity and expression, parents can help them develop into confident, well-rounded individuals who are accepting of themselves and others.Of course, this doesn't mean you have to get rid of all gender-related things in your home. But it does mean being conscious of the messages you're sending your children about gender and allowing them the freedom
- Adopt a gender neutral attitude as a family
Creating a gender-neutral home environment can have many benefits for your family. By adopting a gender-neutral attitude, you can create a positive and inclusive environment that allows all members in your family to express themselves freely without fear of judgment or discrimination.
To begin creating a gender-neutral home, you can start by examining your own language and behaviors. You need to start avoiding using gendered language and instead use gender-neutral terms like "they" "child" when referring to their children. You can also encourage your child to explore activities and interests that are not traditionally associated with their gender.
In a gender-neutral home, your children will be free to express themselves in any way they choose. They will not be limited by gender stereotypes and expectations, which can help them develop a strong sense of self and confidence. Additionally, a gender-neutral home can help your child learn to be more accepting and respectful of others who may have different gender identities or expressions.
Overall, creating a gender-neutral home can lead to a more positive and accepting family environment. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, families can create a space where everyone feels valued and accepted for who they are.
- Do not limit the play of your children based on their gender
Allowing your child to play freely without gender limitations can have a positive impact on the home environment. By encouraging your child to explore a wide range of toys and activities, regardless of gender stereotypes, you can help your child develop a sense of self and independence.
You can start by providing a wide range of toys that are not gender-specific. For instance, dolls, kitchen sets, and dress-up clothes cannot be enjoyed by both boys and girls, while building blocks and sports equipment can be enjoyed by all children, regardless of their gender.
You can also encourage your child to try new activities that are not traditionally associated with their gender. For example, a boy might enjoy dance classes or a girl might enjoy playing soccer. By allowing children to explore their interests, you can help them develop a well-rounded sense of self and a greater appreciation for diversity.
When children are not limited by gender stereotypes, they are free to discover their own passions and strengths. This can lead to greater self-confidence and a sense of empowerment in all areas of their lives. Additionally, by promoting gender neutrality, parents can help their children develop a more inclusive and accepting worldview. By allowing your child to explore their interests and talents freely, you can help them become well-rounded individuals who are confident and accepting of others.
Read Ahead, Know More
You might definitely be curious to know more about how to raise responsible boys. As a lot is done to pressurize girls and women to protect themselves from toxic masculinity. But nobody talks about addressing the boys about how healthy manhood is different from the toxic masculinity projectedd by rigid gender stereotypes in our society. Share and spread the message to raise responsible boys who will respect and treat women with dignity and respect. To know more about raise responsible boys stay tuned and read our next blog.
Watch this video by Cactus Founder Director, Nusrat Khan talking about the Action Point no. 2 https://youtu.be/4tpDfyQqB9Q