6 ways to teach boys to respect women

Parents have a massive responsibility of raising kids. And parents of boys have a greater responsibility. They must raise their boys to respect women. Use these subtle techniques to teach your son gender equality and respect for women.

There is not enough being done to make young boys grow up to be men who respect women. As a society, we are failing the generation of young boys that pass through our care. We sit in our armchairs and condemn incidents of sexual harassment and violence against women that we hear, read and see in the news. But when it comes to real action, we fail miserably.

What are we doing as parents to educate our sons? What values and lessons are we passing on to them? Are we creating an environment that spells respect for the opposite gender? Are we good role models? These are the questions every parent of every young boy needs to answer.

The child's first lessons begin at home. The child's primary teachers are the parents and the other adults with whom he interacts. He watches and learns your ways. He becomes a reflection of you. And if you don't give him a strong foundation replete with moral values and respect, he will go out into the real world and ape the rest. Give your sons a solid grounding, so they always know to behave respectably and don't become influenced by scoundrels in society. Let's give you the lowdown on how you can raise your sons to respect girls and women.

Good male role models

Young boys need to be surrounded by good men, the real-life heroes, whom they can imbue. Boys who grow up around decent men, pick up similar traits. So, dads, uncles, granddads, cousins and big brothers have a major role to play in the shaping of young boys.

Boys observe the way the older men in their lives treat their women. A father who treats his wife, daughter, mother and sisters and other women with respect will leave a lifelong impact on his son. On the contrary, a boy who sees his father display boorish behaviour will learn to act in the same way. Sometime back, a good friend of mine mentioned how her teenage boys had turned chauvinistic and passed comments that reeked of sexism. She was puzzled where the boys had picked up such behaviour, what she failed to see that the influence was right there in her home. The men in her family – husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law, were misogynistic. There was a hierarchy in the family and she, as the daughter-in-law, was on the lowest rung.


Children copy us and turn out to be our reflection. Preaching and teaching don't work. They watch and learn.

Mums have jobs too

Mothers also have a role to play. They, too, can influence their sons. Let your sons see you as loving and caring and strong and independent. Don't lose yourself amid all your responsibilities. Don't come across as a hapless person, whose only job is to cater to the needs of the men in their lives.

Love and respect yourself. Take pride in being a woman and more importantly watch how you refer to other girls and women. Don't use derogatory words when speaking about a girl or woman. Don't encourage loose talk about another woman. Don't character assassinate someone based on what they wear or how late they get home.


Gender-based disapproval affects the psyche of young impressionable minds. Young children become opinionated about women based on their environment. Let your child see you respect women, and they will learn to do the same.

Speak of sexuality

We are responsible for the sexual attitudes that our sons (and daughters) imbibe. Yes, the mainstream culture has a great influence, but the subtleties we portray have an impact on them. Are we comfortable with our sexuality?

Our society does not see sex as something healthy. Yes, we a defined by our culture that makes it a taboo subject, but the times that we are living in are different. The rules of the past do not apply, especially when your teenagers have access to devices where they can watch sexually explicate content whenever they want. It is good to talk about sex being a natural aspect, but it is equally important to stress the need for consent. Your teens are exposed to content that gives them the wrong impression, and they carry those attitudes into real life. You need to ensure that it does not happen.


The way you handle the topic and things related to it will teach your child the importance of respect, even within sexual encounters.

Make it about people

Gender differences exist, so we need to accept and talk about them. Menstruation, a hitherto taboo topic, is a natural biological function. There is no need to keep it under covers as if it's something shameful. Women get pregnant is another biological fact. Hormonal differences between men and women cause women to be physically weaker than men. When you talk of these differences, you highlight that they are natural. And males should not assault women physically or sexually.

Talk to them of equality, despite these differences. Cite examples to show women are as equal as men when the differences that nature has bestowed on the genders are cast aside. Bring respect into the conversation and focus on its significance and that it has nothing to do with gender. Men and women deserve the same respect. More importantly, fashion a healthy environment at home, where equality and respect are practised.


Children need role models who exhibit good qualities. Be that person in your child's life, so he watches and learns.

Stand for what's right

Stand up against something wrong. Sound off if you must, but it is important to do it. Speak up and confront people for their chauvinistic, sexist comments, no matter what their gender. Do not be cowed down by misogyny and patriarchy; assert yourself. Remember, your silence also teaches your child things. He learns that it is alright to berate women with sexist comments.

We live in a society where roles are defined. However, the definitions are not always correct. Most people make nothing of comments that are derogatory and insulting to a woman. Most choose to ignore that women are expected to be subservient to the males in their families. You need to let your child know that it is not acceptable. If you do not do so, you will raise another generation of patriarchal society. You may be scared to confront someone who is controlling. In such an event, register your disapproval in a calm voice, but do it, so your child learns that it is wrong.


When we speak out against atrocities, our children learn to do so as well. We do not have to tolerate anything wrong because society thinks it is alright. Help your child find his voice too.

Women's rights

Even in the twenty-first century, there are men and women out there who do not believe in or support women's rights, women's liberation and feminism. I have heard people term feminism as the 'F' word, making it appear to be something offensive. Feminism is not about loathing men; it is about demanding equality, in all spheres of life – social equality, financial equality and political equality. Gender inequalities exist, within families and in the outside world.

Men can be feminist, too; it is not restricted to women. They also can support women's causes; after all, it is a way to bridge the gaps that exist. Gender differences will exist, in terms of what cannot be controlled, such as biological differences. However, let's encourage change where we can influence it.

Men talk of women enjoying maternity leave. Let's keep in mind that there is no other way to bring children into the world. And every nation needs a young, thriving population, and women make that possible. Women can choose not to have children, but are you ready to face the consequences? If a woman has a child, let's not hold it against her and make her pay for it by losing her chance for promotion or a raise. Judge her for the work she does. Don't punish her for what only she can deliver as a woman.


Feminist is not a dirty word. Feminist stand up for equality, and every child, boy or girl should be one. Only then will they grow up treating each other as equals.

Are you a parent of a son(s)? What do you do to teach them good habits? Share your experience in the comment section.


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