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Government Gazette

It's her job and his too


Many men shrug off household chores, saying it's a woman's domain. But, they must learn to pitch in


Raju uncle, my 65-year-old neighbour, makes filter coffee for his wife every day before she wakes up; he can cook when called upon to do so, buys groceries for the house, and does other chores week after week... all on his own, without being asked to. In fact, I have seen many elderly men with a similar attitude.

Starve than cook

On the other hand, Raju uncle's son, and many other men of his age, would rather starve than cook a meal themselves; they never ever venture into the kitchen, except, perhaps, to drop a greasy plate into the sink. And, I hear their mothers say with an air of pride: "My son can't make a cup of coffee for himself". This attitude will not help any more. Mothers need to remember that the woman their son marries is most likely to be employed. She may be equally, better or less employed, but nevertheless, girls of the present-day expect their spouses to share the housework. She is not going to be amused if her spouse sits glued to the television, the computer or the newspaper, leaves her to do the housekeeping and tells her "That's your job, not mine".

To imagine that men can somehow bypass home chores and outsource their housekeeping is to ask for trouble. Like in the West, domestic help is soon likely to be in short supply in our cities too. Even if your son is going to earn wads of money, it might not get him trustworthy household help. The point is boys need to experience what it's like to do household chores. They need to be initiated into housekeeping so that they don't snigger or think it is for the sissies.

As a matter of fact, both boys and girls need to be initiated into housekeeping and practical life skills, as much as they need to be trained to manage their emotions and career. Not just fixing a light bulb, a leaky faucet, or changing tires, boys should even be taught to sew buttons. "Believe me, your son will thank you when he sees this attitude help build smooth relationships," Mriganayanee, an elderly mother, says.

Assign chores

The best way to assign chores is to start early. Here are a few ideas. Earmark chores for your son, according to his age. At four, you may get him to help. At five, boys and girls need to be taught to wash their own plates and cups. At six, they can learn to lay the table before a meal.

Your own plan

At seven, they may be given the additional chore of wiping the table after a meal... Make your own plan for your son, and encourage him to come up with suggestions on where he can chip in.

Take this tip. "Working becomes a lot easier for my son with music playing in the background," says Nalina, Gaurav's mother. Try switching on your son and daughter's favourite music and let the entire family plunge into dusting and organising the home during weekends. At times, you can eat out or go for a movie, play a game, or trek, post this household ritual.

A cousin of mine who had never as much as even washed his own socks was miraculously transformed following a single event - he went abroad for studies.

"Abroad, with the limited resources students have, it is either cook and wash on your own or starve and stink; every chore you outsource costs so much that you start doing things on your own," he tells me.

When he returned to India, he amazed his mother by washing his plate, ironing his clothes, and helping about in the kitchen. Well, habits die hard. Hmm... perhaps, all males need to live abroad for a while to lend their wives a hand with the household chores. The Hindu


LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
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