Dear Parents, Here’s How You Can Raise Your Boys to Respect Women

Parents, you play a very important role in teaching your boys not to give in to gender stereotypes.

4 min read
Hindi Female

‘Teach the boys better’ is a frequent message as the discourse on equal rights and respect for women gains momentum.

As a parent though, HOW do you do that? After all it’s not a “knives can cut you” kind of topic where a single example of the right (or wrong) thing to do gets the message across.

What complicates bringing up the boys ‘right’ is the conditioning we’ve undergone for generations as grandparents, children, spouses, friends and parents…. While things are changing, in how many homes – even in urban India – do both working spouses equally divide household duties? Isn’t the home STILL considered the woman’s bastion?

Parents, you play a very important role in teaching your boys not to give in to gender stereotypes.
THIS is a classic example of old-time gender stereotypes. (Photo: iStock)

And then there are joint families where this conditioning is applied even more generously and consciously. Where the grandma still asks the granddaughter to fetch a glass of water and not the grandson. Where the working bahu is still expected to lend a helping hand in the kitchen after work as the son catches up on the news.

It may be subtler in some cases, but gender bias is omnipresent in various avatars around us.


Watch how psychologist Sadia Saeed Raval tells parents how they can raise their boys better.


So how do parents ‘tackle’ this issue? How do they ensure that gender sensitisation doesn’t end up being gender discrimination?

There’s probably no ONE right way.

But you could take a cue from these parents who are raising young boys:


Prachi and Anmol Guron: Parents to Boys Aged 8 and 3.5 Years

Parents, you play a very important role in teaching your boys not to give in to gender stereotypes.
Prachi and Anmol Guron, parents to Fateh and Farid. (Photo Courtesy: Prachi and Anmol)

“We have, as a couple, chatted about this topic and sometimes we disagree on our individual approaches,” says Prachi. “So far we have consciously tried to not bring in the question of gender.

“We want both our sons to see girls as individuals first. The only place where my husband has asked our older son to be careful is in the playground so that he isn’t physically aggressive with his girl playmates.”

Since Anmol travels extensively for work, Prachi, who also works, takes on the lion’s share of the household work.

Does this send out the wrong message to the boys?

“Not at all. My boys see me as someone who can do everything in the world! Besides they have seen that their father can take care of them and the house exactly the same way I can.


Asha and Sumant Batra: Parents to 13-year-old Son and 9-year-old Daughter

Parents, you play a very important role in teaching your boys not to give in to gender stereotypes.
Asha and Sumant Batra, parents to Dev and Siya. (Photo Courtesy: Asha and Sumant)

“Our way to encourage gender parity between brother and sister is to give them equal choices. We don’t bring in gender when it comes to making friends or even selecting activities at school. We allow them equal choices,” says dad Sumant Batra.

It is also important to challenge the norms we ourselves have grown up with. For example, my son thinks it is his right to sit in the front seat of the car. We are changing that perception of his by asking our daughter if she wants to sit up front. What we’ve communicated to our son is that she has as much right to that seat as he does.

Sumant Batra, dad

What about the larger family though? What happens when grandparents and relatives push stereotypes upon their kids?

“I come from a conservative family where typical gender roles play out. It is not always possible to change old mindsets so we focus on having free and fair discussions with our kids about these things. We also speak to the grandparents separately if need be,” answers Sumant.


Tina Sharma and Manish Tiwari: Parents to Boys Aged 8 and 7 Years

Parents, you play a very important role in teaching your boys not to give in to gender stereotypes.
Tina and Manish, parents to Jaivijay and Dev (on Holi last year). (Photo Courtesy: Tina and Manish)

“There is zero gender stereotyping in my house since my boys see me and my mother-in-law working and managing home as much as the male members of the family. However, there are influences that come in from peers, cousins, the school, etc. It is important to keep tabs on their interactions with those outside the immediate family,” says Tina.

“For example I once found my older one giggling at a picture in a magazine. It was an actress enacting an item song. I asked him what he found funny about the picture and he said ‘girls who wear such clothes are bad girls.’ I was alarmed and it took me a few minutes to figure out how to approach this. I asked him why he thinks so and was told his older cousin had made this remark. I sat down with him and asked him what if he had just taken a bath and a houseguest saw him in his towel. Should the houseguest then think that he is a bad person because of what he is wearing? His immediate response was NO.”

“I then explained to him that clothes don’t decide what a person (girl or boy) is like. I feel simple explanations do get across to the kids.”


(Radhika Bajaj is a journalist and news presenter with over a decade’s experience in Indian media. She has also designed and created content centred around women, lifestyle, health, entertainment, business & travel and enjoys writing about the same.)

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Topics:  Parents   Grandparents   Gender Stereotypes 

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