Parenting & Gender Bias

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This post was written as a contribution to the Boys vs. Girls Blog Carnival.  The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences, ideas, and opinions on why gender roles should be avoided in parenting and teaching practices.

Gender bias or stereo typing is a hot topic in any parenting community and best handled with care. We all have opinions and beliefs about it. And today, I would like to share mine!

My opinions are based on the fact that I have one son and one daughter. I know that that makes for a very small “test sample”, but none the less I feel it equips me with a LITTLE insight. Especially when I take the children’s friends into account too.And I do recognise that children are individuals. Same parents, different children, different behaviours and outcomes. My sample of two really IS very small.

Where to begin. I was always keen on not forcing gender pre conceptions on The Boy (the older one of the two). I daringly bought him one pair of pink ish trousers and one pink ish sleep suit (much to the amusement of family). But I didn’t go beyond that. He got a tea set and a train track for Christmas. He got cuddly toys and other gender neutral toys. We have always done a LOT of Kids Crafts. And I am pretty certain that his arty/craftiness is 50-50 nature and nurture.

They say boys don’t like reading and writing. MY Boy loves writing. Loved drawing. ADORES colouring. And loves his alphabet.

They say boys need to be exercised every day. MY Boy though of course needs to get out – as we all do, is most definitely NOT the type to climb the walls if he hasn’t had an hours run in the park.

They say boys are direct and easily read. MY Boy is a complex set of emotions that I need to regularly untangle.

At the same time… he loves all things boy. He loves cars and trains. He loves superheros. He loves short. He used to love pink, but once school started, that quickly switched to red (peer pressure at it’s best).

He plays nicely with his sister at tea and picnics and with her doll’s house. But it is clear that this is NOT his prefer activity of choice.

In short. He is a boy. He likes boy things, but he also has many “girl attributes”.

As to The Girl. When she was born, we were given a lot of pink. I (!) took to pink  much more than I thought I would. At the same time she regularly wears The Boys old stripey tops and looks great in them. She loves playing with her big brother’s cars and the train track. But oh my, she is a GIRL. On her second birthday she was given 3 dolls. Yes 3 in one go. She didn’t have one until then, but it was QUITE CLEAR she needed one. She was nurturing and caring for her toy bunnies. She threw herself at dolls in other people’s houses and there is nothing better she likes than playing “Mummy, Daddy and Babies”. She has a preference for the smaller cars (baby cars) and adores all things pink.

SO.

Where am I going with all this?

In essence, boys and girls are different. In MY view that is a fact.

However, as a parent, I think you need to give them equal opportunities. My kids do all the same “craft activities” together. I don’t do “boy” or “girl” crafts as such. They surprise me by quite how often their gender doesn’t come into crafting. They get to watch the same movies and in general enjoy them equally, whether it is Disney’s Cars or the new Tinkerbell Movie (in fact I think the boy enjoyed tinkerbell more than the girl! Read our Tinkerbell Movie Review for more).

And when they have different interests, respect them. As The Boy gets older he is definitely taking on more “boy traits”. I am sure being in the UK school system already influences that. And if he wants to do “boy things” so be it. So long as I give him the opportunities to experience the girl stuff too. And vice versa. Then the KIDS can make THEIR decisions about what they like.

My personal conclusions are:

  • Boys and girls ARE different.
  • Each child is different.
  • Embrace the difference, but don’t label them by their gender.
  • Give them equal opportunities – opportunities should have nothing to do with gender.

This post was written as part of a “Carnival” of blog posts organised by Crayon Freckles. The following bloggers have all come together and written their thoughts on the topic for you to browse.

 


Look here to read submissions by the other carnival bloggers

Gender Cliches Debunked
Andie Jaye of Crayon Freckles is a momma to a preschool boy and teen girl, looks at cliches held about genders and offers an alternate view to them. 

Parenting and Gender Biases
Maggy, mum of a boy (5) and girl (3) discusses on Life At The Zoo her observations about how each of her children do have many characteristics associated with their gender. However stresses that children should be given equal opportunities to explore, play and discover and is frequently surprised by each child really enjoys non gender specific activities – this is particularly noticeable during the arts and crafts activities they do over on Red Ted Art.
The Monko at Taming the Goblin asks “What is the difference between girls and boys at the age of three? And why do we care?”
 
Brittany from Love, Play, Learn shares how to help your child grow up happy and emotionally well adjusted by cutting through gender stereotypes and bias in children’s toys, media, and society. She shares easy and practical tips and ideas for raising happy and confident girls and boys.

Boys, Barbies, and Broken Necks
Erin from Royal Baloo writes on why ignoring gender stereotypes will give your child a leg up.

Gender Stereotypes in Society
Gender stereotypes are everywhere, among friends, colleagues, at stores and pretty much anywhere else in life. Alex, from Glittering Muffins and father to Nico {an energetic three and a half year old} looks at how difficult it can be to keep an open mind.