Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - COVER STORY -

So what can par­ents do at a prac­ti­cal level to make sure their sons grow up to be good men?

• Al­low boys to show emo­tion – and not just un­til they are 8 or 9.

• Be con­scious of what you model at home. Hetero­sex­ual par­ents per­form­ing rigid roles teach kids from a very young age about what it means to be a hus­band or a wife, a fa­ther, or a mother, psy­chol­ogy lec­turer Pani Farvid says. Women who work out­side the home still do half as much un­paid labour on av­er­age weekly than men. That doesn’t mean tra­di­tional fam­ily set-ups with mum at home and dad at work is bad mod­el­ling. It is im­por­tant to teach kids that what works for your fam­ily doesn’t have to be the same for ev­ery­one.

• Re­spect chil­dren’s pri­vacy and bod­ily au­ton­omy. Don’t force them to give hugs and kisses.

• Talk to your chil­dren about con­sent, gen­der norms, men and women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the me­dia and what it means to be a good per­son. Reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tions in the car, at the din­ner ta­ble, while watch­ing TV play a role in rais­ing em­pa­thetic chil­dren. Re­search sug­gests that most kids will even­tu­ally adopt parental val­ues im­parted in a lov­ing way.

• Watch out for benev­o­lent sex­ism. These days overt sex­ism is rare. It’s be­come more in­sid­i­ous. Seem­ingly re­spect­ful acts such as men open­ing doors for women or tak­ing heavy loads off their hands can send the mes­sage that women need pro­tec­tion be­cause they are weak or in­fe­rior.

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