While celebrating Mother’s Day, I missed observing Father’s Day. Then when we celebrated Father’s Day, I thought mothers were left behind. Couldn’t we have a day when we embraced both parents together? Mothers are considered the primary caregivers in our culture. Fathers are, nevertheless, important as well. Unfortunately, children only see mothers making all the sacrifices or fathers doing all the breadwinning jobs. Children must be taught to acknowledge and appreciate both parents. A Special day can be great to formally remember and recognise parents’ contribution. On this note, in 2012, the UN General Assembly declared 1st June as the Global Day of Parents, to be observed annually in honour of parents throughout the world. The day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their “selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship”. Though we do not need a special day to appreciate our parents, let’s still celebrate the Global Day of Parents to teach our children to be appreciative of both parents.
Nevertheless, Global Day of Parents is only the starting point. Teaching anything to children follows a gradual process. The first and the most common way to help children recognise their parents’ worth is by verbal appreciation. We can simply start by asking them to pay closer attention to the things parents do on a daily basis. Sometimes, children do not notice or fully understand their parents’ roles. Previously, I observed that my children were more attached to me, prioritising and choosing me over their father. I have been a hands-on mother heavily involved in parenting. Still, it saddened me to realise that my children did not fully acknowledge their father’s role. They might have learnt about gender-defined parental roles from various sources, including books and their surroundings. It became crucial for me to challenge these stereotypes and explain the reality of our roles as parents. For instance, I made sure to emphasise that I CHOSE to cook though their father had basic cooking skills. It has been an ongoing process of communication and helping them understand that both parents play significant and complementary roles in their lives.
I also do something interesting to make sure that my children notice and recognise what both their father and I do for the family. Every month (and sometimes every two weeks), I have my children prepare a list of work both of us do. I ask them to tell me what they notice about our work. I usually prepare two columns: one for their mother (me) and one for their father. I want them to pay attention to our activities and come up with points that stand out to them. I have two purposes: to help cultivate mindfulness in my children and to encourage them to be grateful for the things their parents do on a regular basis, not just on special occasions.
Another effective method to foster children’s appreciation for both parents is by engaging them in various activities that the parents undertake. For instance, during my cooking sessions, I encourage my children to assist me in preparing the ingredients. Additionally, my kids contribute to maintaining a clean household. They help their father by assisting him with laundry tasks and disposing of trash bags. Through these experiences, they develop an understanding of the happiness derived from actively participating and fulfilling important responsibilities in a family. Consequently, they learn two significant lessons: firstly, household chores are not gender defined, and secondly, both parents contribute significantly to the family’s well-being and thus deserve equal appreciation.
These are my parenting choices which I have been making for years. Telling or showing nothing works if we do not sustainably and consistently do it. It is crucial for parents and older family members to ensure that children develop appreciation for both parents. In this context, the extended family plays a significant role within our society. Unfortunately, I have observed instances where individuals speak negatively about either the mother or father to the children, poisoning their minds. As a result, children begin to view their parents as competitors and are forced to choose sides. It is essential to teach children to value and appreciate both parents. When faced with such choices, they should consider their parents as a unified entity and distance themselves from toxic individuals who seek to create divisions and exploit them emotionally. It is important to refrain from asking children questions such as “whom do you love more?” and instead encourage them to love and appreciate both their mother and father equally.
Henry Ward Beecher was right: “We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves”. Now that I live far from my parents and parents-in-law, I understand how important they are in our lives. I want to return to my country, be around them and raise my children with moral values. On this Global Day of Parents, I extend my prayer for all the parents. They must live healthier, happier and longer lives for the sake of their children. In our culture, we often do not verbally express ourselves, but we truly, insanely and wholeheartedly love and appreciate our parents. This year, I shall enjoy being a parent and encourage my children to write notes of appreciation for both me and their father. How would you encourage your children to celebrate Global Day of Parents?
English, North Dakota State University