Your baby arrives into the world and the doctor calls out, "It's a boy!" Or, "It's a girl!" The gender is announced because the doctor looks at the body part which indicates a male or female anatomy. You are elated as you inspect the most recent member of your family for ten fingers and ten toes. You care to know if your child is healthy and gender biases are the furthest thing from your mind.
Your job as parents is to protect your child. To help him navigate the world and expose her to many opportunities. That also means not falling into the trap of limiting them by pushing them into narrow gender stereotypes - but that can be tricky in today's world!
10 Mixed-Gender Play Dates
With mixed activities, children are more likely to choose activities that stimulate their senses rather than forced stereotypes. When children are faced with choices they tend to go with what makes them happy. Children are not aware of the social norms until they are told of them. Gender stereotypes are taught in the home, schools, religious institution and mainstream media.
When boys are girls interact in a consolidated activity they may choose to play tag, hide and seek, finger painting or work on a project that exercises their creative skills. The thought of gender may never arise as it becomes more about the experience and having fun with their friends.
9 Let Toys Just Be Toys
Fill your home with a wide assortment of toys for your child to choose from. Telling the boy that dolls are for girls creates a belief that objects are masculine or feminine. Girls should have the right to choose action figures while boys can decide to use an Easy-Bake Oven.
Toys are a way for us to see into the future of who our children could one day become. The pink Easy-Bake Oven could be the reason your son becomes a famous Chef. The action figures could be the reason your daughter stars in a box office movie as her favorite Marvel comic hero.
8 Don't Split Chores By Gender
Assigning chores by gender often happens by accident. Parents need to be mindful of who they give certain responsibilities to. Let your child help in the decision-making process of what he or she gets to do around the house to help out.
As an unspoken rule, girls clear the table and do the dishes, while boys empty the garbage or mow the lawn. If your daughter much prefers to do the mowing and she is capable she should be allowed to carry on with this task.
Chores are to be selected by the age of the child rather than old- fashion traditions. Overall all children should learn to do all these tasks as they will need these skills as adults.
7 Pink For Girls, Blue For Boys
Jo Paoletti, a University of Maryland historian, did a study revealing that up until the 1950s there were not gender coloring. The introduction of pink for girls and blue for boys was deliberately created by the fashion industry.
This may be one rule that you can break easily by curating an outfit that is not focused on gender bias coloring. Gender reveal parties for expecting mothers have become a standard for color results. Perhaps we can make a conscious effort to have the bakeries create a yellow or green cake. Let the word boy or girl be the reveal instead of the colors.
6 Allow Gender-Neutral Expression Without Judgment
Children by nature do not see limits. The adults in a child's life impose the boundaries and make the world smaller and smaller by implanting limiting beliefs. This can be avoided by listening to your child and responding to his or her actions without judgment.
If your son wears nail polish or eyeliner, see it as neutral self-expression. Remember that make-up was used by Egyptian men before women ever claimed it as their own. Your daughter may prefer male boxers to ladies underwear. Listen to her reasons and not assume anything beyond what she gives as information. It is the feedback you give that shapes the person your child becomes.
5 Focus On Your Child's Character
Whatever a child's gender, they enter the world with likes and dislikes. They have personalities that are not affected by the environment. This is the character and it usually has nothing to do with gender. Concentrate on your child as an individual, compliment her strengths and assist him with his weaknesses.
Raise a person that has a strong moral compass and good values. The struggle with gender seems to appear when a fault is applied to being a girl or a boy. If your child knows that he is a good person and that she is capable of doing good in this world, then gender will make no difference to what they can accomplish.
4 Reinforce Gender Neutral Behavior
As stated above, children do not have a judgment about gender until they are told to by the adults in their lives. Therefore they naturally interact with each other and play games with every other regardless of gender or anything else.
Cheer on your daughter when she plays soccer and let her know that you are proud of her involvement. Boost your son's ego by letting him know that being gentle with his younger siblings was amazing and he is welcome to continue more of those actions.
3 Make Gender Issue Moments Teachable Ones
Have conversations about news topics and current issues about gender and stereotypes in the media. TV shows usually exaggerate the gender stereotype of characters. An example of this would be the very feminine girls who wear only pink and glitter. Or the jock boys wearing blue and are overly aggressive. After watching a TV show filled with gender biases, it is best to see if they understand the reason why these archetypes are being used.
It is done to communicate the story to the audience quickly. The main character may not fit into the typical feminine role or the boy may not be very athletic. In most cases, the point of the story is to show that the main character can overcome these setbacks.
The discussion we can have with our children is to let them know that these issues are not setbacks in the first place. Everyone is born unique and will not fit into all groups.
2 Expose your child to heroes who have broken the gender rules
Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player who has no time for boring gender rules, and knows how to show it. James Charles is an American make-up artist. He became the first male ambassador for CoverGirl. Charles has an androgynous look as make-up allows his more feminine features to come out. He is a gifted artist in a field that would be traditionally reserved for women.
Gender should only be used when referring to your assignment at birth and not your capabilities as a human being, and showing kids admirable celebrities who embody this is a great way to teach that lesson.
1 Think before you speak
Telling your daughter that she is a "Tomboy," for climbing a tree can be detrimental to her self esteem. She may only be thinking of picking an apple. Then your comment goes to the point of attaching a gender bias to climbing. On the other side of the spectrum saying to your son, "Big boys don't cry." Could be the reason he keeps his emotions to himself in the future.
To ensure you are not enforcing gender stereotypes on your child. Make an effort daily to transform your language and remove gender bias statements. Fill your home with love and tolerance. Allow your child to live without judgment.