Mind Matters


By Paonam Thoibi

`School is one place where a child develops into an adult he is made to grow up into`

Q 1. My 5 year old nephew is the only boy child in his family after three elder sisters. He has grown up to be a little sensitive boy. He has started his school this year but finds it a little difficult to adjust due to his over sensitivity and inclinations towards more girly stuffs. Like most boys, he likes car and bikes, but he really likes many `girl` things like Barbies which his sisters play fondly. His choice of color of his bag, pencil box all are influenced by his sisters`™ choices. I have heard that he is made fun of quite easily due to this by his friends in the class and his mother is really worried about this. I have tried to tell her that it is quite ok for a boy to like girls`™ stuff but cannot do more convincing than this. Please advise if making him want traditional boy stuffs will help to have my nephew avoid being bullied? Sunita Ksh

Ans: Dear Sunita, you worry is quite valid since it concerns your nephew being introduced to the harsh realities of life, head-on. Your telling your nephew`™s mom that it is ok for a boy to like girly stuff is reflective of how you are concerned in making the child to `be himself`™ and not succumb to norms set by traditional values and thinking. Therefore it is not much advisable to have him want boy things and suppress his choice of things and preferences. Most probably, his choice and play preferences will surface up. So his parents should let him make his own choices as they help him understand why certain consequences follow due to his different manners and choices. The parents should appreciate his good choice of things and encourage him to stand for his likes, passions and desires.

You also mentioned that you nephew is very sensitive which may be probably because of his spending time more with his sisters in the house. But being sensitive is one good attribute which should be encouraged rather than be scared of. Of course this can be also one reason for which he could be made fun of at school because most children who behave differently than the majority are susceptible to being picked on and made fun of. And there are a lot of children who have successfully braved through bullies and grew up to become far better than the rest of his classmates. The school is one place where a child develops into an adult he is made to grow up into. It is the first place where life`™s hurdles and difficulties are handled and resolved. The teachers play a vital role in this development.

Lastly, if he gets bullied because of his preferences and choices then it is not his problem, rather it is the other kids who have a big problem and the school should intervene immediately.

Q 2. Dear Madam, most of us are familiar with the difficult kind of neighbors. Ours is particularly difficult as we live so close by and their family indulges in petty fights and violent behaviors. Many a times, I have come across the man beating up the wife in front of his two small children who would burst into tears and cry. We could have intervened but again it is a temporary thing and I know it won`™t bring about any lasting change. Still, I am very much worried about their small kids and at times, I feel embarrassed to be a passive onlooker and not being able to do my bit in this regard. – Anonymous

Ans: This question is quite relevant in our time now where many people are becoming intolerant on the one hand and one`™s family affair negatively affects their neighbors who live so close by. It would have been better to know the gender of the writer since the different gender roles could have played differently in the best possible way to intervene in such tricky situations. One in authority and older in age, both male and female could have been at a better disposal in these equation. For someone middle aged or a youth, this needs to be handled more carefully and in such a way not to appear very interfering and more arrogant or inviting more harm towards themselves.

A man who would beat up his wife in front of his children is someone who is both arrogant and dangerous. There was little or no way you could have stopped him but you should have reacted with a shout or a yell to bring him to his better sense. The reason to do this is to show the man, his wife and their children that another person is standing up and expressing, `This is unacceptable. This is not right. This is not how men should behave.` Letting the children experience brutality and the helplessness of the other people around was equally not good. These children will grow up with their trauma and may find adjustment issues in life.

Calling the police, local women folk (Meira Paibis) or other elders can also be another way of intervention. The frequency of such torments can be accounted to see if that was a onetime event which would not repeat again or the man is a habitual abuser. The woman can also be given counseling to approach their relationship in an assertive and respectable manner and not yield to abuses in the future. She may be compelled to take difficult decisions and the neighbors can give necessary social support to her and the children to restore their sense of safety and security.

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