What’s a Mummy? A Daddy? Sorting Through Gender Roles

Nov 10, 2012 No Comments by

A couple of generation ago, gender roles seemed clearly defined in most homes. There were mothers, who were aprons, wielded a dust cloth and a vacuum cleaner (sometimes simultaneously), and made sure their families had full stomachs and matching socks. And there were fathers, who wore suits and toes is overalls, carried a briefcase or toolbox, and made sure their families had roof’s over their heads and enough bacon for Mum to cook up with the eggs from every morning.

parents and kid

parents and kid

  1. Set an equal example. Making a conscious effort to divide housework and parenting equitably (taking into account what each partner does best) will leave a lasting impression on your child. But in your attempt to tease your child without gender-based stereotypes, be careful not to try and erase in his or her mind the differences between the sexes. Men and women are different – in many wonderful ways – and that’s to be celebrated.
  2. Nurture nurturing. You don’t have to be a mummy to offer a shoulder to cry on or a lap to struggle in – any more than you have to be a daddy to roughhouse or teach kick ball. And you don’t have to be a little girl to courage sons as well as daughter to hold the bottle for the baby or offer a toy to a tearful playmate. Children who grow up seeing both men and women are not having a fat better chance of becoming nurturing parents themselves – whether to express their feelings, rather than urging them to ‘tough it out’, will help them to grow into caring, sensitive men – and caring sensitive spouses and fathers.
  3. Praise courage and strength. Cheer girls and boys equally when they get to the top of thee climbing frame, catch a ball or go on the merry-go-round. Don’t hesitate to play rough with your little girl, as long as she enjoys it. By the same token, avoid such play with a little boy, if he doesn’t.
  4. Take the gender taboos out of toys. No toy should be considered inappropriate because of traditional sexual stereotypes; girls who want to play with balls, bricks and trucks should be allowed to do so, as should boys who want to play ‘house’ with dolls or teddies. At the same time don’t push a toy on a child (or deny a toy) in an effort to break traditional sexual stereotypes. Boys who favour trucks shouldn’t be coerced into playing with dolls; girls who favour dolls shouldn’t be pressured to play with trucks.
  5. Look for equality in books. Try to find story books in which both men and women are doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers and construction workers, and in which daddies and mummies participate fully in parenting and household work. But don’t be too zealous about screenings stories for sexual stereotypes; your child stands to lose out on some the world’s greatest literature if you do.
  6. Open your toddler’s option. Help your toddler to grow up feeling there’s nothing he or she can’t do – that everyone can aspire to the vacation of their dreams. Let them know, too, that being a doctor or a firefighter or an architect doesn’t preclude being a parent.

After The Baby Is Born, The Toddlers Year
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