On Raising A Boy In Egypt: A Mother’s Perspective

I have been blessed with 2 children in a 7 year marriage; a boy and a girl. Although I love my children both equally, I tend to lean towards my son, and I believe this is a natural reaction considering that opposites attract. This never means that I favor either of my children, it just means that my son is a tad closer to my heart, noting that he was also my first. I think that all mothers deep down believe that your first kid is always your favorite whether you like it or not.

Boys: weird, stubborn, beautiful, caring creatures that live and thrive by feeling superior and wanted from day one. It really is no wonder that men in general tend to dominate and feel higher than women; it just runs in their blood. I sometimes look at my boy, while playing with his little sister (who is quite strong and rock-headed) and smile. He wants to be the boss, but she “smartly” won’t let him. He wants to take the lead, and yet she is always in front. He has a louder voice, but my god she has the loudest actions ever. My kids represent the truth. If you all look around you, explore your environment, you’ll always find women silently leading the way, whilst men brag about all the hard work they exerted.

It’s really crippling raising a boy in Egypt. It’s a challenge; and by that I mean you have to stand up and challenge the whole of society to raise a sane, balanced man. I want my kid to be a decision-maker, but not a narcissist; a caring person, but not characterless; a smart man, who knows exactly how to fight for his rights and treat women the way they should be treated. Above all I want him to lead a life where he understands that women and men are equal. Society mutates boys; it turns them into loud, angry, narrow-minded creatures that seem to hinder the process rather than take the lead and become proactive.

One of the most important lessons that I am teaching my boy, is that it is not okay to get angry and explode. Anger; a vicious vice! In our society boys are taught that it is ok to throw tantrums, break things, and explode if you are angry. Women, mothers, daughters, subordinates, and colleagues; everyone has to wait until you are cool. No, it’s not ok! I will not tolerate tantrums, and I will not wait until you calm down. You will not raise your voice or your hand to your sister, and I will not allow demeaning behavior towards anyone. I teach my son, that when you are angry it’s ok to express yourself, and in return expect people to react.

One of the really annoying things that I have seen happening is parents framing the boy to be the leader of the house. Boys are always asked to do ‘man chores’ like opening the door or going to the supermarket, whilst women are always asked to do ‘cleaning chores’. In my house, where I work and my husband works full time, we all do chores equally. They both arrange their toys, and both are responsible for sorting the table and preparing their essentials be it for the club or school. My daughter will not do the dirty business, they will both co-work to get the chores done.

Being a successful woman doesn’t mean that I should not rely on my husband and ask him to do things that I find hard for me. I teach my son that his sister is not his responsibility but he is in one way or another her backbone. He is her support-system and will fight for her if needed. I teach them to be friends, and yet I instill in my son ‘old fashion’ values like being protective and acting as a shield for his sister. I ask my children to lower their voices all the time, but I always tell my daughter that a lady never raises her voice ‘too loud’ because a lady never does.

I agree that boys will always be boys; they will always be more active, higher sense of protectiveness, louder voices, and feeling of dominance and this is something we can never change. As a mother, I always try my best to have my boy channel all these feelings in the right path, by teaching him that if he really has to feel dominant and superior let this show through his hard work, supportiveness to those around him, and by setting an example to everyone around him.

Find Nora Moustafa, the Fatonista, on Instagram @fat_o_nista

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