Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Household chores

How many of you find household chores demeaning?? Especially in our Indian society and especially in smaller cities like Mangalore where I come from, I have experienced that household chores are reserved only for females. Be it cleaning, dusting, cooking, washing, everything is reserved for females and females only. Why?? Long ago when I was a teenager (ya, it does seem long ago) I remember having an argument with my maternal grandmother. She was of the opinion that girls should learn everything regarding household work. Girls should learn to eat everything. Girls should be subservient. I asked her why not boys? Why don't boys have to learn household work? Why shouldn't they learn to eat everything? Why shouldn't they be expected to adjust? Her only answer to this was that, that is the way society is. Who is society?? Are only men a part of society?? Are only men allowed to make and break rules? I am not being a feminist here. I am only saying that it is high time that we get rid of this discrimination. If women these days can go out and earn (not only out of choice, but sometimes out of need), then men should be ready to share household chores. I am lucky that I married into a family who believed that everyone in the family should share the household chores as all members of the family were working. It made life easier for all of us.

Where does this hated from household chores come from? Why do people, even in these days, find household work demeaning? Gone are the days of joint families where men would go out to work and females were entrusted with caring for the house. Gone are the days when there would be a battery of servants to do all the different day-to-day household chores. These days, especially in cities, families are mostly nuclear families where both husband and wife are working, servants are hard to come by, and so the onus of sharing the household chores rests on the family members. If a child is trained since a young age to do small duties like arranging the table, clearing the table, helping the mother or father in cooking, cleaning etc, the child automatically cultivates this habit for life. That way the child will not feel that doing household chores or sharing responsibilities is demeaning. It becomes a part of his/her life and makes him/her a better person.

My Mother trained both her daughters well in household chores. By the time both I and my sister got married, our Mother had trained us so well that we could easily manage our homes and our careers. Never did we find it difficult to balance both. When we were growing up, we did feel at times that our Mother was a bit harsh. When other kids were leading a carefree life, we were expected to be responsible. But today when I reflect on this, I am thankful to my Mother for imbibing the sense of responsibility in me and training me so well that it is easier for me to take charge of my life. My Mother has been sneered at by others who ridiculed her saying that she was making her daughters do her work. She shrugged off the sneers and continued to teach us. She didn't teach us all that just because we were girls. She did it to equip us for life. She did it so that when we grow up, we wouldn't have to be dependent on anyone. She encouraged us to make our own careers. She encouraged us to take up hobbies. She encouraged us to care for our homes. When I was in my 10th standard, I was able to rustle up a meal for my family. When I was in college, my Mother entrusted me with the responsibility of making lunch for me and my younger sister which we carried in our lunch boxes. By the time I got married, I had the confidence of cooking a meal for even 20-25 people at a time. Even to this day, I enjoy having people at my place and serving home cooked meal for them. I am not scared to take up any kind of responsibility and the credit for this goes to my Mother.

In our conservative society, even to this day, a boy is not even expected to pick his plate and at least put in it the sink, forget washing it!! Even girls these days, past their marriageable age, are barely able to cook up a meal for themselves!!! I am shocked when I hear girls proudly declare that they know only how to make a cup of tea or a a cup of instant noodles. The reality strikes when the boy or the girl has to live away from their families for the sake of their studies or jobs, and they find it difficult to even take care of themselves.

My husband helps in all household chores if need be. That is the way his Mother trained him. But he did not know to cook to even save his life! When he was selected by his company to go overseas for a project for a period of 3 months, I made sure that he learns at least the basics of cooking so that he could at least have home-cooked meals rather than eating outside daily. He was a quick learner because he was open to learning. It not only made his stay abroad comfortable but also equipped him to take care of himself in any kind of eventuality.

I have come across mothers who do everything for their kids thinking that the kids need not do anything as long as their mothers are there for them. But by doing this they are only doing them harm. Every person learns by trial and error and when the learning process starts from an early age, he/she will be better off by the time they grow up. By teaching kids, the right values and respect for household chores, one can only equip them for a better future. When the time comes for the kids to leave their nests, every skill that they learnt from their parents will help them to make the transition easier. It will equip them to take care of themselves in any situation. Do not feel guilty when you make them do small chores at home. You are only training them for their better futures. Make learning interesting. Do not force it on them, but make learning a part of life. Let them learn from their mistakes, but never make household chores gender-biased. It is shocking to hear little boys shrug from work saying it is "girls job"!!! Where do they get this idea from?? When these little boys are not corrected, then by the time they grow up, they feel that household chores are demeaning!

So let us all help our children, both boys or girls, become more responsible which will only help them in their futures. Remember, no knowledge ever goes to waste and no skill is useless. So don't hold them back. Let them fall and learn. Let them learn through trial and error. But let them learn!

10 comments:

Sangeetha Nambi said...

Award is awaiting. Do collect it in my space.

Reshmi Mahesh said...

You got a lovely blog...

FunWidFud

Mangala said...

@Sangeetha, that's very sweet of u!! thanks!
@Reshmi, thanks for stopping by...

Mangala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mak said...

two awards..first one to all the mothers... the second one for you.

You have very well highlighted the bias in the society. I believe that women deserve a lot of respect.

Mangala said...

@Mak, thanks a lot!

A said...

Mangla,

To start with, in our house, I do a lot of household chores including dishes, cleaning, laundry etc. It is pretty common in the USA for males to do these. However in the USA also, some Indian males do not do it. When my Mother in law comes she DOES NOT like me doing these - she says it is not man's job...


In some families children are spoiled - girls and boys....I have seen that in rich Indian families.

Your post is good one.

Mangala said...

@A, thanks for ur comments!

sweetnovember said...

This is a great write, M. You have hit the nail there, when you say no knowledge ever goes waste and no skill is useless. Kudos to you for seeing all the hardwork your mom made you do, in a different light

I do have a comment to make though, while it might be difficult in the beginning for people who have never done a single chore for most of their childhood, I think people are resilient. With the right attitude, it is amazing what they can do whenever the situation calls for it, so it is never too late to start!!

Mangala said...

@Sweetnovember, u are absolutely right...better late than never!

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