Friday, April 27, 2012

Gender Stereotyping

Something that bothers me a lot is when society starts putting gender stereotypes on my children.  This is something that comes up constantly within our culture. I remember when my son had on a necklace and my daughter a necktie while playing and someone said, well that's backwards.  Um no you are backwards!  We have these gender stereotypes, but our children do not.  They just want to have fun, be creative and the sky is the limit.  Then we, as adults, unknowingly start to make limits.  When we say things such as boys don’t cry, or pink is for girls, we start putting up those limits.  Then the child begins to think that they like something they aren’t supposed to, and they start to conform.  But who says they should or shouldn’t like something?  Why are we putting limits on our children’s creativity and uniqueness?  It’s our job as caregivers to take care of our children, and that includes giving them the confidence to be creative and be an individual.  We have a dress up chest in our home, that holds lots of different play things.  We have outfits for a doctor, princess, fairy, race car driver, knight, cowboy/girl, etc.  They both enjoy dressing up in all the outfits! It's so much fun letting them use their imaginations and there are never any limits to what they can become.

We like to know, before the baby is even out of the womb, whether we will have a little blue or pink bundle of joy. Would it shock you to know that this is actually a new found wonder? There are no boy colors or girl colors.  Boys would wear pink, and girls blue, in the early 1900s.  It’s relatively new that we have this standard of certain colors for gender.  Now don't get my wrong, as infants I liked dressing my daughter in pink and purple, so the older ladies in the grocery store wouldn't ask how old HE was! ;) Though now that my kids are toddler and preschool age, they want to wear certain colors. Even using certain colors on their artwork/craft, and I've heard other children say, "That's a girl color." I want them to know that they can use any color. By setting the example that their are no gender colors, we open up the possibilities for our children to be creative. So let's let our children enjoy the whole rainbow of colors.

  Boys and girls should be able to just be.  Be children.  Use their imaginations and play pretend.  Girls can be anything: doctors, policeman, etc.  We want our girls growing up knowing they can be anything.  Why not hold true for boys as well?  Boys can be chefs and hair stylists, too.  They can be anything they aspire to be.  Let children try all activities, so that they can learn and develop many skills and talents.  It’s healthy for girls to play with trucks, learning about speed and motion.  When a boy plays with dolls it helps him to learn to be caring and gentle.  He’s preparing to be a nurturing father some day, and we all know what a good thing that is.

 It’s normal for children to want to play gender stereotypical roles, even without adults teaching them. I know even though I tried to steer her from them, my daughter A LOVES princess things!  And my son loves anything with a motor.  Yet when we took the kids to a Monster Truck show, thinking mostly it was for C, A had just as much fun! We didn't limit those experiences for them by their gender.  So A's appeal to princesses is typical behavior and should be accepted, but we also encourage her to try many different activities.  We encourage our son and daughter to play together and learn from each other. Why would we want to limit these wonderful qualities in our children?  So let's help our children stay stereotype free by explaining that boys and girls can do the same things, and that the sky is the limit.

~Laura B

1 comment:

  1. I have a daughter and when I first started buying cloth diapers I bought a ton of "girl" prints, then went through a phase, "We want more children" so I need to buy gender neutral prints. Now, I'm at the point, who cares if that diaper is pink, it's a diaper and I'll put it on a boy. I onesie will cover most of it.