The world is changing and gender roles are ever-evolving. In today’s culture, people are challenging the social norms and changing them. More men are choosing to stay home with the children while women decided to take on the breadwinner role. Every family is different and every role that they play is different, depending on what works for your family. It is important for children to understand gender equality early on. While there always seem bigger fish to fry when it comes to raising children, studies have shown that this is very important and can have significant effects on their self-esteem.
So how do you raise children in a gender-equal home – especially if you have both a son and a daughter? Here are some tips to help ensure you are instilling this important lesson at home:
1Housework and chores are done by everyone. Show your children that different tasks around the house can be done by both mom and dad – brother and sister. Cooking should not just be left to women. Dads, take the time to help out with dinner and clean around the house. Moms, show your kids working outside or changing your car oil. Chores should be done by everyone in the house and they should be done equally.
2 Don’t make activities gender-specific. Signing up for the basketball season? Ask everyone equally if they would like to participate. Everyone can take cooking lessons, karate, or dance lessons. Don’t automatically assume that only your daughter would want to learn how to ice skate. Offer the same opportunities to all your children equally. This also applies to clothing and appearance. Let your children decide what they want to play or what they are interested in. Help them foster a passion for their interests.
3 Respect and validate everyone’s feelings. Boys don’t have to suck it up when they are hurt or upset. Girls are not the only sex that can be allowed to have feelings. When your boy breaks down, validate what he is feeling, and let him talk about it. It’s okay if he cries. He doesn’t have to “man up.” Let him have his feelings and let your daughter have hers. It may not feel like a big deal to you, but it is to them.
4 Don’t shy away from talks about gender stereotypes. If they bring up questions such as why their friend’s dad stays at home, or they notice a woman working on a construction site, have age-appropriate conversations about this. Real-life examples help show children that different sexes occupy many different roles. Having logical conversations with your children at a young age is so helpful.
5 Don’t use their sex as an excuse. We hear it so often: “boys will be boys,” or “they throw like a girl.” Try your best to eliminate this type of thinking. Acknowledge the behavior based on who they are as a person. Remember that boys are not predisposed to be aggressive and you are accepting their behavior when using those statements. Talk about boy and girl role models equally. Talk about what they achieved and acknowledge their persistence in reaching their goals.
While these changes may seem trivial or small, remember that making these adjustments early on in your child’s life, you are teaching them to view the world as gender-equal. Helping make the world a much better place. When kids feel unlimited from their sex, they are empowered to seek their passions. They will become a much happier adult for it.