TIPS FOR PARENTS
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.