The problem with today's world? "[W]e love our boys, and we raise our girls."
This, according to former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, who in a conversation with poet Elizabeth Alexander at the inaugural of the Obama Foundation International Summit earlier this month, touched on gender issues, male entitlement and the role women play in this regard.
Her speech sparked a conversation on how mothers unconsciously conflate traits like bravery and strength with masculinity, and how little attention they pay to other traits like compassion and respect.
We often see this pattern in the way Arab moms raise their sons, indirectly or directly overly-nurturing them to the point where they become entitled and self-righteous.
The long term effects of such an upbringing are toxic and detrimental, and we need to address the ways Arab moms enable it.
Starting with the way...
1. They unintentionally create a master/servant relationship
It’s no secret that most Arab moms take full responsibility for cleaning up and taking care of the house and kids.
This servant-like behavior may often lead to adult sons never contributing to household chores or taking action when it comes to their own needs.
When mothers don't treat their kids equally, men will keep on expecting the same treatment from their wives.
2. They treat them like they deserve to be the center of everyone’s attention
When boys are granted all they wish for and are given the freedom not afforded to their sisters, a sort of narcissistic behavior is fed and rewarded.
As adults, they expect people to treat them like they are owed attention and respect.
We see this most commonly expressed in husbands who deny their wives a career in order to fulfill their needs.
3. They make excuses to cover up their sons’ wrong behavior
This starts at an early age, with both parents often reprimanding the sister for her brother's own shortcomings.
As they continue to make excuses for them, their sons grow up never having to take responsibility for their own actions.
We see this made manifest in the behavior of some men who resort to physical or verbal abuse as a means to an end.
4. They teach them that feminine traits are insulting
Many Arab moms, and parents in general, firmly believe that feminine traits are a sign of weakness and teach their sons to "man up" or else face societal judgement.
Normal human behavior, like crying or communicating raw emotions, is often frowned upon when expressed by young men.
This attitude is not only harmful, but also paves the way for a culture of toxic masculinity that undoubtedly hurts both men and women.
Has the time not come for a new narrative?