Recent reports indicate that, although it is decreasing, there are still prejudices against women that justify gender inequalities , as well as an unequal distribution of domestic tasks, both in Spanish homes and in the rest of the world .
Education, both the formal one in schools and institutes and the one that is carried out at home, must continue to promote more egalitarian and healthy relationships for all people. As?
They are not worth only speeches
The first impulse when we observe that a young person has an unequal or sexist behavior is to explain to him and reason why what he did is not correct.
For example, we can think of a teenager who does not take on household chores: laundry, cleaning, or food. The first thing we would do is call her attention and explain the need and obligation of her collaboration in all this. This is necessary, but not sufficient.
The importance of limits
A problem that has been observed in recent decades is the difficulty of establishing limits . This difficulty is understandable given the historical context in which we find ourselves.
The normative family model of the last century is patriarchal, where the father holds power and imposes order in the home. The progressive and necessary dissolution of this model leaves us educators, and especially parents, without a clear reference to hold on to and with the fear of not wanting to replicate that archetype.
But when talking about the need for limits, it does not imply the coercive imposition of these, nor the continuous use of threats and punishments. It is about young people being able to think about their concerns, what they can and cannot do. Because not everything is allowed, nor is there someone who is capable of everything.
Repercussions and discomfort
We must assume that a healthy life goes through the construction of a vital project that takes into account that we cannot do everything, that our actions have an impact on others and that, therefore, only what cares for and respects the lives of others is possible. .
Because, furthermore, what we find in the research is that when young people do not channel their desires within the framework of these limits, different forms of discomfort appear, such as depression, self – harm , anorexia or addictions . In other words, limits are not an obstacle to development, but just the opposite: they are the channels through which life can pass healthily.
Personalization and adaptation
It is necessary to clarify that these limits are not universal, because each person has different capacities, singular interests and particular contexts.
There are people with more ability for music, others with more time to exercise in the art that they are passionate about, in some families they like to have dinner together, in others everyone does it when they return hungry from work, some houses need continuous cleaning of the terraces because of the saltpeter that comes from the beach, others have to take the dog for a walk, or have older relatives to take care of.
Therefore, in order to build egalitarian relationships, in each context it is necessary to think and act differently in relation to what each person wants and can do.
So, we must focus not on the imposition of universal norms, but on a way of thinking and acting that is sensitive to the environment and to others.
What the research tells us is that our actions are not mobilized only from ideologies or discourses . When we act, a complex process that includes our knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and emotions is automatically and unconsciously put into play.
In this gear, the speeches we make are a small piece, but not the only one. So how can we reconstruct our subjective position in a way that allows us to both live our desire and be respectful of others?
Recent studies point to the need for, among other things, educational professionals and parents to assume the responsibility of being a benchmark for young people . This means something that is easy to say, but difficult to do: think about our day to day, look for mistakes and dare to change them.
It means thinking about our discomforts and finding ways to address them, be it in therapy, with artistic activities or as everyone needs.
And all this in dialogue with young people so that they can be present in this process in which we think and change ourselves, and the well-being that all this brings us. So this will become an invitation for young people to think and grow in equality.
A passionate life
In short, it is not about being an exemplary father, but about being an example of a father. Young people should look for their own ways of living and follow their wishes, not those of their reference adults. That is why we are not talking about an exemplary and model father to imitate: that would be in line with that patriarchal father who imposes a way of being and relating.
What it is about is taking responsibility for showing young people, with our own experience, that there are healthy and passionate ways of living that are respectful and caring for others.
Author Bio: Diego Martin Alonso is Professor of Didactics and School Organization at the University of Malaga