Bringing Up Boys

11 October, 2016
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Bringing Up Boys

11 October, 2016

The very worst thing about having sons has got to be the somewhat strident, always unsolicited advice that I receive on bringing up boys. All the conversations inevitably revolve around respect and sensitivity, the subtext being that boys are programmed to grow up into violent brutes, an inevitability that can only be averted by the intervention of everyone who has some free advice to dispense. There is a perennial stream of forwards and open letters to ‘mothers with sons’ which turns into an avalanche sometime around the Women’s Day. This year, on schedule, I was forwarded a particularly irksome article by the mother of a daughter. Months later, I am still grinding my teeth in fury.


Not only is this generalization unfair to men, it does no service to women either by stereotyping them as perpetual victims. Sure the world would be better off with less machismo, but it also needs less victimhood. While we need men who respect women, we also need women who refuse to accept unequal relationships. About bringing up girls right –most advice on the subject is tempered with a compassion that is sorely missing while discussing the male child. What I have generally received is aggressive admonition that sets my teeth on the edge.


As a mother of two adult sons, I too worry about my children being trapped in abusive relationships. I worry about them being subjected to emotional abuse and manipulative behaviour by insecure partners seeking to control them. Domestic abuse against men is a real issue with little legal remedy or social reprieve available to the victim. But that is an issue for another day, another blog.

For now, here’s my unsolicited advice to mothers bringing up girls. Thanks for all the counsel down the years and here’s some of my own. Have conversations with your daughters about having a life of their own, about seeking their own destiny instead of sitting back and expecting their partners to “make them happy”. Countless mothers like I have had all the conversations possible with our sons; we have raised men who are honorable to a fault. Now it’s your turn to have a go at bringing up girls who are capable of forging an equal relationship with them.

Archana Rao-D'Cruz