For the longest time in my life, each time I would get dolled up for an occasion, I was complimented for being a perfect ‘feminine’ daughter. Whether it was for good or for bad, I’d never know but I failed to understand why that could be considered as a compliment. Why were some females described as being a tomboy or some others were complimented for being too feminine? Well, to start with- Gender stereotyping, as a parent, reflects a lot about uninformed parenting!
Each time a father tells his son that he shouldn’t cry like a girl, each time a mother tells her daughter to ‘talk’ like a girl, there’s an ounce of stereotyping that is shown in their attitude. I’m not going to tell you why you shouldn’t raise such kids but simply that there is so much to the kind of gender-neutral parenting that fixes a lot of loopholes in our society.
A classic example is that most toys for kids these days are either blue or pink in order to differentiate the gender choices. My problem with this is a far greater one. When I constantly call my neighbour’s daughter as a Tomboy, am I not giving an impression to my daughter- that this isn’t how other girls ought to be? Or simply that maybe not all girls are that way. The problem is, when you differentiate between kids and their choices, you are giving them cues about how one is different from the other.
Parenting and gender objectivity
I am a thorough believer of the fact that parenting is the root cause of most problems we face in society today. What you profess and do, your kid impersonates. When you scout your house with a gadget at all times, you indicate to your child to do the same as they grow up. Most issues we have today- is a reflection of improper parenting. Thus, gender objectivity is something that we MUST practice in the course of the day.
Here are 5 ways to raise gender-neutral kids:
- Household chores: Sure enough, we have conveniently assigned most household chores to women and happily made it seem like a lone task. Cut that concept and rip them apart. Make sure that there are no ‘assigned’ roles at home. Everybody does everything in rounds or so. Make sure to teach your child about how skills like cooking are not gender-based but more of a survival task.
- Don’t use colours for bifurcation: NEVER, I repeat, never use items or objects like colours, clothes or toys to identify with their gender- bifurcation. Buy your kids clothes and toys of all colours and patterns- let them choose what they like.
- Use right language: When you notice your kids using statements like “X cried like a girl,” or “Y is a total boy when it comes to playing cricket”- encourage them to ask questions. Do not impose any thought- let them question and work towards getting an answer.
- Don’t put them down: Don’t constantly keep telling them that certain genders are good at certain jobs like “women shouldn’t go for crime journalism” or “how men shouldn’t become dance trainers or so.” What you like, is your choice. Likewise, don’t encourage thoughts that generally end up with stereotyping as the only defense.
- Adjectives: When you want to appreciate your friend’s son- don’t always focus on words like handsome and strong but also, remember to include emotional intelligence or other adjectives that talk about more important things than just looks. Never identify a person purely on the basis of their appearance but more deeper qualities.