By Shachi Irde, Executive Director, Catalyst India WRC
You are stepping into the next phase of your life. While you will always be my little boy, you are growing up and so are your interests, relationships and everything around you.
You will soon start noticing girls, wanting to get to them better. You will hear about dating, the joys of having a girlfriend versus not having one and so on from friends and others around you.
Whether you have a girlfriend or not is not of much importance--what's most important is how you will treat any friend of yours who is a girl.
Don't differentiate between 'her' parents and 'my' parents... Treat her parents how you would like her to treat your parents.
Girls too will have gone through a physical and emotional transformation. For the most part they know how to take care of themselves and don't need molly-coddling. However, some men who are really very bad elements of society, like to think that women are some piece of property that they need to own. While parents guide and advise their daughters on how to be careful and take care of themselves, you shouldn't rest easy. If you notice women being harassed, I would like you to take charge and take action against these men. This is where your years of self-defence classes and years of karate practice will come handy.
As you grow older and are ready to marry the girl you love don't forget to discuss a few important things. First and foremost, acknowledge that marriage is a huge step for both of you irrespective of whether you stay in a joint family or independently. Both of you have been the apples of your parents' eyes and will have to make adjustments.
Make sure you discuss and communicate things and agree on how both of you would like to live comfortably.
Support each other's career ambitions and make adjustments to make it work. Remember she was also her parents' princess before becoming your wife.
Don't differentiate between 'her' parents and 'my' parents. I have seen many couples get into huge relationship issues because of this differentiation. Treat her parents how you would like her to treat your parents. Show respect and be thankful for the wonderful daughter they have brought up.
I would like to believe that I have brought you up without differentiating between which chores are to be done by mom or papa. You know, papa loves doing the laundry and that's why he does it; you love loading the dishwasher and cooking amazing food so you do it. It has never been mom's job to do the laundry or cooking and cleaning. Each one of us does tasks depending on our availability and inclination. I would like for you to continue to look at chores at your home in the same way and not try to force her to take on tasks.
Make sure you discuss career aspirations with your wife. When you are young and in love everything looks easy and rosy. But let me tell you the challenges are different after you are married. There are many pressures both at home and in office which need to be balanced. Support each other's career ambitions and make adjustments to make it work. Remember she was also her parents' princess before becoming your wife. She too was used to all the comforts, perhaps more than you, in her own home. There will be some things both of you might have to let go. Focus on what will make both of you happy and work towards it.
A woman goes through a lot to give birth to a baby. Be supportive of her needs, not only during her pregnancy, but through all the choices she makes.
If you decide to have a child or children, remember it is a huge responsibility. Things change a lot when you have to care for a little hapless human being which both of you created.
A woman goes through a lot to give birth to a baby. Be supportive of her needs, not only during her pregnancy, but through all the choices she makes. I was indeed very lucky to have both your grand-moms to support me when you were born. It was your grandmother who helped me make up my mind when I had to make a choice between going back to work leaving behind my precious baby or quitting and taking a career break. I may or may not be able to care for your child as my parents did, but I will do whatever I can possibly do to support both of you. Having a child should not be a reason to deprive your wife of her career and in many ways her identity. Believe me, the baby will not even remember if her/his mother was there every day to take care of her/him (you don't remember of that time, do you?).
I sincerely hope that by the time you start working and building your career, men and women are treated equally and both of them have equal opportunity to voice opinions. If not, be there for her. I have been very lucky to have your father as not only my husband, but also a dear friend, mentor and someone who believes in me and the supports the choices I make.
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