By SHAMALA VELU
Most parents try to give their children equal opportunites, regardless of their gender. However, when it comes to curfews and late nights, parents tend to be more protective over their daughters than their sons.
Some parents say this is because the fairer sex is easier prey for rapists and muggers. In the past, girls were expected to be home by a certain time, while boys could stay out late, or had no curfew at all.
Is it true that double-standards exist in raising daughters and sons?
Abdul Aziz Hamdan
Management consultant Abdul Aziz Hamdan has two sons and two daughters, aged eight to 22. He says:
“When it comes to raising our boys and girls, there are obviously no written rules or strict ones that are set by me or my wife. Rules are meant to be broken and many times, it is difficult for children to abide by rules. Looking back, I see that there were many restrictions placed on girls in our family. This kind of upbringing is harmful as it will not allow them to make family decisions. The girl will only end up listening to her husband and she will not have a happy life.
Thus, I encourage my girls to be open with me. If they have done wrong, I want them to be honest and tell the truth. A girl, who hides things, will only suffer when time catches up with her. I am protective over both my sons and daughters but I'm not overprotective. Anything that is excessive is bad in my opinion. I stay close to them and watch them from a distance. If they fall, they should know how to get up as well. On weekdays, Noah and Naomi are allowed to stay out until midnight and on weekends, the curfew is until 1am for both. However, they are not allowed to go out with friends I don't know or haven't met.
Outgoing young girls today want to be treated the same way as their brothers and I think it's all right for girls to enjoy themselves. However, they should not be naive or act foolishly when they face the real world. Obviously, girls want and should be treated the same way as boys. If my son is allowed to stay out late, then I will also allow my daughter to do so, too.
Times have changed and youths today are more aware of what they can and cannot do. It is an open world now. I find that by the time you can explain things to a child, they already know the answers. When my eldest son was six years old, he told me how whales make babies – it was something he learnt from a documentary on television. It was certainly different in the 1960s when I was growing up. I have 13 siblings and we come from a small town. The answers I got from my older siblings were mostly silly ones, such as, “If you do this, this 'hantu' (ghost) will haunt you,” or “If you do that, the other 'hantu' will get you.”
Fast-forward to the present and you get a very different picture. My eldest son, Noah, and daughter Naomi grew up watching How I Met Your Mother, a comedy about a single, young man who meets many different women. As such, they are exposed to modern day lifestyles. I think it is unfair to give my children different sets of rules when they are mature enough to understand so many things. For the same reason I expect them to help out around the house.
My eldest son knows how to cook as do my daughters. They participate in our weekly cooking and I always tell them that when looking for a life partner, they must make sure he or she is helpful and caring as well. If they have these qualities, it will make them a good husband or wife.
When my wife is busy, I do the cooking, ironing and helping out wherever necessary. I do the gardening and I still have time to play golf three times a week.
The biggest challenge for parents nowadays is trying to tell younger children that the world is not a perfect place. There are a lot of people out there who tell lies. The older kids may already be able to tell the difference and be wary, but for young children, we need to explain to them to be very careful, especially about strangers with bad intentions.”
Rahma Daud, manager and mother to daughters, Izza Azizah Rosli, 23, Nur Khumairah, 15, Nurhana Hasanah, 10, and son, Muhammad Syukur, 20, says:
“In my house, the same rule applies to all my children and it is simple: Outings are allowed but not until very late at night. Everyone must be home before maghrib(dawn prayers).
Any night outing for girls will be accompanied by me. This is because I believe girls are at greater risk of being in danger than boys. Boys don't get pregnant, but girls do. I'm not saying it is all right for a young man to womanise. However, society always puts the blame on the girl if something awful happens. There are so many cases of baby dumping and it's usually the girl who is blamed and ends up being called the culprit. Where is the perpetrator?
It sounds so unfair, but that is the reality. There needs to be some boundaries for both boys and girls to follow when it comes to relationships. Thus, when parents impose any rules, it is for their own good.
My son loves to play futsal at night. Once, when my husband turned down his request, he sneaked out of the house after bedtime to go out and play with friends. Since then, we have relaxed the rules a bit. Now, we make sure that he informs us where he is playing and with whom.
We don't encourage our children to go out at night with friends because it is difficult for us to monitor their movements. As parents, we wonder what they are doing with their friends. If my daughter says she wants to go to her friend's place for revision or to a party to celebrate a friend's birthday, I normally send her to the place and make sure that she gives me the contact number of her friend.
I'm protective of both by son and daughters even though most of them are grown up and are able to look after themselves. I still worry if they get into trouble or if they get into the wrong company. I also don't allow my children to drive to university, or my son to ride on his friend's motorbike because we are afraid that they may have an accident. My son always asks, 'Why do you let us get driving licences when you don't allow us to drive to school?' ... And I have no answer to that!
When it comes to cooking and doing household chores, I feel that it's important for the girls to do household chores. In fact, I don't really force my son to cook. Girls, I feel need to be prepared as they will have their own families to care for later. I think most teenagers don't like cooking even if they can. If I'm out running errands until late evening, my children will wait for me to come home and cook. If they are hungry, they usually make fries, burgers or toast bread.
However, they all do their share of housework. My children, I believe, share my views because they see me as a role model. They respect me for who I am. Thus, when I lay down the rules, they know it is done with good intentions.”