Gender is the very first label we receive as we enter the world, but that's a mentality which has been challenged in recent years. As early as four months, babies are segregated into a box that contains them in a specific mold—either the pink or blue and nothing in between, but do they need to be?
And by just knowing the sex, people, including parents, already have a predisposed way of how to treat a baby. Boys are meant to be tough and stoic while girls should be reserved and nurturing, and if anything else, they're not considered an epitome of their own genders.
This way of thinking, however long had it has been practiced, still proves to be perilous for children as it inhibits them in expressing who they truly are. If you're looking for inspiration on how to raise a gender-equal child, here are a few ways to make it happen.
10 Read Books That Teach Gender Equality
Aside from reading classic storybooks that teach the basic values, it's also important to read your children stories that explain equality among genders. There are a lot of great reads that children can easily grasp like Rosie Revere, Engineer, Pink Is For Boys and No Difference Between Us, among others.
At the age of two or three, children already have a primitive understanding of gender, and they learn the "roles" that society imposes to them only as they further age. To kill this belief in so-called roles, it's best to start at an early age when their brains are most malleable.
9 Don't Limit Toys
There is no such thing as girl's toys and boy's toys. All toys are for everyone, and this is what you should teach your child. To encourage this, introduce your child to a variety of toys and don't hold back in buying what they truly want.
If your girl wants a set of tools, then don't hesitate in buying her one. Tools aren't only used by men, and why should we stop our little girls in playing them? Likewise, if your boy asks for some kitchen toys, go ahead and don't mind what others will think. Who says only women can cook?
8 Role-playing Is A Great Practice
In the same respect with toys, let your children's imagination run free by letting them play as who they like to be. In today's world, we are so penetrated with the idea that some jobs only fit a specific gender.
Growing up, we are limited by the societal roles that we intuitively conform to. Apart from what we've seen from our elders, the media, which has been mostly a male-dominated institution from the very start, massively harnessed these stereotypes until they're fully entrenched in our subconsciousness. We're trapped, as a result, in a system that dictates who does what. It's time to break this idea once and for all.
7 Playtime Shouldn't Be Gender-exclusive
We know that males and female brains aren't biologically the same, but the difference isn't really hardwired. Our brain changes through social learnings, so to say that one gender only understands its own can be quite problematic.
Despite the differences, encourage your children to interact with their opposite gender. Girls can mingle, or even relate, with boys. The same thing goes with boys to girls. In fact, it's even better for your kids to befriend others in the opposite gender, as it teaches them socialization, inclusivity, and even compassion.
6 Give Equal Chores To Siblings
If you have more than one child, it's extremely important to allocate equal responsibilities for your children at home. Get your boys involved in some cleaning and cooking, and this goes the same for your girls.
This creates an idea that housekeeping is everyone's job and not only for women. For the longest time, we're left in a rut culture that says tending homes is only a woman's job. But in this age where both men and women work to sustain families, it's too heavy a burden for moms to be doing alone. So to instill this thought, emphasize that anybody who lives in the same house should be equally responsible for keeping it nice and neat.
5 Reward Equally
It's a known fact that we live in a world where there's a great gap for opportunities, privileges, and even wages among different genders. Females, in particular, receive lesser of any of these as compared to their male counterparts.
At home, we should reward our children without favoring one over another. It's best to reward children for what they deserve without any regard of their preference, as it reminds them that no hard work would be futile just because they're just girls or just boys.
4 Boys And Girls Are Equally Compatible
The disparity in gender is so rampant that it doesn't apply only to adults. Alarmingly, this unequal construction is as evident as in the early classroom setting.
One study shows that boys are more implicitly favored and encouraged by teachers when it comes to mathematics and science, but are undermined in terms of their interests in arts and language. Meanwhile, girls are praised for being quiet but are most likely to be interrupted when making a point compared to boys.
If we strengthen our children's foundation in our own homes and teach them all genders' capabilities are equal, then these biases wouldn't pose a great threat to their self-esteem.
3 Character Traits Don't Have Gender
Gender differences are so rigidly alive in our cultures that we even associate character traits to one gender. It's as if we're systematized to have only one set of traits, and we're expected to embody these just because it's "appropriate" for our gender assignment.
This notion confuses children in a way that it creates labels, like being soft means being a girl and being hard-headed for boys, when, in fact, masculinity or femininity really had nothing to do with it. More importantly, it limits them in harnessing their own personality as it breeds anxiety, fear of rejection, and lack of self-esteem.
2 De-emphasize Gender
Although it's hard to eradicate the age-old belief that one gender trumps another, it's still possible to make a new generation of humans who believe that everyone is equal by starting in your own home.
Teach them that gender is a less important matter. If an old woman needs a seat, she should be given one not because she's a woman, but because it's nice to be helpful for someone. The same respect goes for men.
At the same time, when pertaining to other people's capabilities, and more importantly for themselves, teach them to go beyond seeing one's gender no matter what others say. Girls can be astronauts and firefighters, boys can be chefs, nurses, or whatever they really want to be. There really is no limit.
1 Be A Good Role Model
There's nothing more effective in teaching than walking the talk. Children learn more from what they see, not what they're taught. In order for this new generation to grow as individuals who are unfazed by gender differences, they must see us, parents, as great stewards of equality.
On our part, it can, at times, be hard to do, let alone to combat. We're battling a 2,500-year-old way of thought, and the truth is that we can't really just eliminate all the disparities around us in a snap. But, for our kids, it will be a fulfilling role to do. Imagine raising your children to become considerate, full of self-esteem adults who never let gender differences get the best of them—and them raising their own children as you did. That's making a mark, not only for your family but for the world they're living in at that given moment.